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Dumbledore Gay, Says J.K. Rowling

Harry Potter’s mentor, Dumbledore, is a closeted homosexual, author J.K. Rowling has revealed.

Dumbledore Gay Photo Harry Potter fans, the rumors are true: Albus Dumbledore, master wizard and Headmaster of Hogwarts, is gay. J.K. Rowling, author of the mega-selling fantasy series that ended last summer, outed the beloved character Friday night while appearing before a full house at Carnegie Hall.

After reading briefly from the final book, “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows,” she took questions from audience members. She was asked by one young fan whether Dumbledore finds “true love.” “Dumbledore is gay,” the author responded to gasps and applause.

She then explained that Dumbledore was smitten with rival Gellert Grindelwald, whom he defeated long ago in a battle between good and bad wizards. “Falling in love can blind us to an extent,” Rowling said of Dumbledore’s feelings, adding that Dumbledore was “horribly, terribly let down.” Dumbledore’s love, she observed, was his “great tragedy.”

“Oh, my god,” Rowling concluded with a laugh, “the fan fiction.” Potter readers on fan sites and elsewhere on the Internet have speculated on the sexuality of Dumbledore, noting that he has no close relationship with women and a mysterious, troubled past. And explicit scenes with Dumbledore already have appeared in fan fiction.

Rowling told the audience that while working on the planned sixth Potter film, “Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince,” she spotted a reference in the script to a girl who once was of interest to Dumbledore. A note was duly passed to director David Yates, revealing the truth about her character.

Rowling, finishing a brief “Open Book Tour” of the United States, her first tour here since 2000, also said that she regarded her Potter books as a “prolonged argument for tolerance” and urged her fans to “question authority.” Not everyone likes her work, Rowling said, likely referring to Christian groups that have alleged the books promote witchcraft. Her news about Dumbledore, she said, will give them one more reason.

Of course, making this revelation after the series has concluded and the surge of sales has past seems an odd way to make an “argument for tolerance” and “question authority.” If her point was to make a statement about gays as acceptable role models for children, why not reveal Dumbledore’s dark secret in, say, the second or third book?

Andrew Sullivan, meanwhile, finds lots of “clues” in the novels themselves.

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About James Joyner
James Joyner is the publisher of Outside the Beltway, an associate professor of security studies at the Marine Corps Command and Staff College, and a nonresident senior fellow at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. He has a PhD in political science from The University of Alabama. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter.

Comments

  1. Anon says:

    Note that her comment about a “prolonged argument for tolerance” was not in response to a question about Dumbledore specifically.

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  2. bob in fl says:

    Of course, making this revelation after the series has concluded and the surge of sales has past seems an odd way to make an “argument for tolerance” and “question authority.”

    But an excellent way to make the point that his sexual orientation is irrelevant & is none of anyone’s business anyway. The stories by themselves make the argumemt of tolerance by not pointing out the political arguments. Keeping Dumbledore’s orientation out of the storyline & not commenting about it during the marketing reinforces that irrelevance in everyday life. By talking matter of factly after the need for hype passed & in response to a normally curious question from a young reader, she reinforces the lesson of tolerance & acceptance.

    Questioning authority? Homosexualty & the regulation of the practice of it is a major political issue here & in the UK. Rowling’s position obviously is that it should not be. By keeping Bumbledore’s sexuality ambiguous in the series, she is telling by example that it is none of the damn politician’s business, or our’s either. If that is not questioning authority, than what is? Is it not reasonable to believe that minorities should not have to keep fighting for rights the rest of us don’t question are ours?

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  3. floyd says:

    It’s not an “argument for tolerance”. It’s propaganda for an agenda.

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  4. Len says:

    Look out, Floyd, them homosekshuls is comin’ to getcha!

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  5. Anderson says:

    I imagine her publisher would’ve thrown a fit had she insisted on making his orientation explicit.

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  6. floyd says:

    Len;
    Judging from your choice of words [and the spelling] I must infer that you are ignorant of your obvious homophobia.
    For your information,most homosexuals,like most heterosexuals, are not in the practice of forcing themselves on anyone sexually.They merely wish to live their private lives without people like you accusing them of rabid aggression.
    Therfore,I see no need to fear any imminent attack for the purpose of sexual gratification from any source.
    [Although I am a "D**ned handsome man"]
    Thank you anyway for your unfounded concern for my welfare!

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  7. Len says:

    Floyd, as someone who has been with his current partner for 32 years… well, let’s just say that is the first time anybody has ever accused me of homophobia. You missed the mark on that one, pal.

    In case it wasn’t obvious, I was responding to your “propaganda for an agenda” remark. My ignorance and bigotry flag just automatically gets raised anytime I see or hear someone refer to a “homosexual agenda.”

    My apologies if that was not your intent. Sometimes one sentence remarks are difficult to interpret.

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  8. Boyd says:

    If there were ever a situation that cries out for “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” this is it.

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  9. Boyd says:

    Seriously, though, why does Dumbledore have a sexual orientation, but Professors McGonagall, Snape, Flitwick, Sprout, Moody, et al, don’t?

    If it has any bearing on the understanding of the storyline, it baffles me why it wasn’t mentioned in any of the books. If it doesn’t have any bearing, why is she bringing it up now?

    Color me confused.

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  10. Anderson says:

    Seriously, though, why does Dumbledore have a sexual orientation, but Professors McGonagall, Snape, Flitwick, Sprout, Moody, et al, don’t?

    They *do*; it’s just that heterosexuality is assumed.

    If it doesn’t have any bearing, why is she bringing it up now?

    Rowling has said that she knows a great deal more about the characters than she would have any occasion to put into the books. Now that the series is over, she’s naturally inclined to share some of her stuff. (A selection of her notes seems like a surefire bestseller.)

    Compare Tolkien; how much of the stuff in the appendices to The Return of the King is needed to understand the story?

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  11. John Q. Public says:

    Comment in violation of site policies deleted.

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  12. Boyd says:

    While I’ve read the Tolkien quadrilogy (I can’t see separating The Hobbit from the other three, and my apologies to the late Mr. Tolkien for that) many times, I confess I can’t recall having read any appendices. Hey, I do recall trying to read The Silmarillion, and failing to slog my way through very much of it.

    That notwithstanding, I still fail to see how I understand more about Dumbledore and his attitudes and actions by knowing this little tidbit than I did before Ms. Rowling revealed it.

    And rather than assuming heterosexuality on the part of anyone else, I’ll stand by my position that it doesn’t matter which team they play for. These characters don’t interact with each other in a romantic way, much less a sexual one, so whether or not they’re homosexual matters no more to me than whether they prefer the color blue to orange.

    This statement by the author strikes me as pointless, that’s all.

    Addendum: The only known sexual orientation of the Professors I mentioned (that I can recall) is Snape, and it’s pertinent to the story; Dumbledore’s strikes me as irrelevant, especially in comparison to Snape.

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  13. Anderson says:

    The only known sexual orientation of the Professors I mentioned (that I can recall) is Snape, and it’s pertinent to the story; Dumbledore’s strikes me as irrelevant, especially in comparison to Snape.

    That is why we didn’t learn Dumbledore’s sexual identity. Though it would’ve been a great subplot, if Dumbledore’s homosexuality had been one reason why people mistrusted his confidence in Snape, Harry, etc.

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  14. Mebethel says:

    Personally I think Dumbledore’s orientation is relevant; I couldn’t quite see him falling for Grindelwald’s wizard-supremacist ideas, and this explains a lot. I think it just makes him a richer character.

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  15. tom says:

    I always thought McGonagall was a lesbian…hmmm…

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  16. Steve Verdon says:

    Compare Tolkien; how much of the stuff in the appendices to The Return of the King is needed to understand the story?

    Good point. I’ve had to explain lots of that stuff to my son who really liked the movies, but is still a bit young for the books.

    Boyd,

    That notwithstanding, I still fail to see how I understand more about Dumbledore and his attitudes and actions by knowing this little tidbit than I did before Ms. Rowling revealed it.

    You don’t; that is the point. Such information wasn’t necessary, which is why it wasn’t in the book. However, a fan asked her a related question and this information came out.

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