Gay Dumbledore just doesn’t make sense

Talia Alberts

The Harry Potter world received some shocking news this weekend. Albus Dumbledore is gay. For anyone who hasn’t seen the headlines, J.K. Rowling outed her character at a question and answer session for fans at Carnegie Hall last Friday.

Before I go much further, I have to say I fully support gay rights. My issues have nothing to do with a leading character’s sexuality, or whether that changes anything about that character’s wisdom and draw.

That being said, I was extremely agitated when I heard Rowling’s seemingly spontaneous remark. I spent a great deal of time trying to decipher what was so infuriating about her comment. Do I really care that Dumbledore is gay? The truth is, I don’t.

What bothers me is that Rowling’s comments seem to go against the spirit of art. From what I’ve been taught and believe about art and literature, the creator’s job is to put their work out in the universe and leave the interpretation to the audience. The idea that Rowling feels the need to define and interpret her completed work for us is insulting.

Speculating about a book you’ve just finished over a cup of coffee with friends is one of the greatest pleasures that book has to offer. Generally, great authors are reticent to explain their writing, preferring not to dictate meaning.

Additionally, literature students are often taught that they can make any argument about a piece of writing as long as there is basis for it in the text. While many of my friends point to the fact that Rowling made up the text and therefore is entitled to make up whatever she wants about the characters, I disagree. She had multiple years and thousands of pages to either hide meaning or explicitly state it in the text, but chose not to out of some sort of fear, or, dare I say it, because it didn’t previously exist in this story.

Theories and opinions on why the author disclosed this information run rampant. Some point to a lack of security in her work’s ability to convey a sense of maturity and depth, while others view it as a cheap publicity stunt. Others say it’s a slap in the face to extremist Christian groups who already shun her for depicting witchcraft in her books, and others say it’s a huge statement for gay rights.

As a statement for gay rights, it seems poorly planned. When asked to elaborate, the author pointed to an unrequited love for the evil Grindelwald that “blinded” Dumbledore. This could just as easily be a homophobic statement – Dumbledore’s temptations from the dark side almost ruined his reputation and career and in the end he was forced to publicly defeat and banish Grindelwald in order to prove that he was good. This could easily be a narrative of repression and destroying the temptation in order to overcome a weakness. Not exactly a resounding endorsement of the gay community.

The immediate explosion of controversy among Harry Potter fans is to expected and not really the issue. In my opinion, it should have been left to the reader to interpret or imagine the unknown of a character’s essence. Rowling left it in our hands once she ended the series. Besides, I don’t know about you, but I think it’s highly likely that Voldemort was actually a left-wing vegan who used dementors to cause global warming.

Communication sophomore Talia Alberts is a PLAY pop culture columnist. She can be reached at [email protected]