call it magic, call it truth
Was she going to slap you because you never in any way made him gay in the actual books, taking zero risks/doing absolutely nothing for gay characters in literature, and only announcing your “authorial intent” afterwards for a cheap shot at looking like an ~ally~
Gay people are just normal people. We are not told about any of the Hogwarts professors love lives, other than Snape, and it would be completely out of character for Dumbledore to walk around telling everyone about his sexuality.
Did you want her to make him dress in glittery platform boots, a crop top, and decorate his office in rainbow flags to make it more obvious for you? Would that be enough of a stereotype to appease you people? Or what? Please tell me. I’d like to know how you think a gay character is supposed to be portrayed.
And did you miss the Grindelwald chapters in the ‘actual books’? Or was that also not obvious enough for you? Did Dumbledore need to whisper “always” wistfully in order for you to connect that he had romantic feelings for Grindelwald? Maybe you are American and need them to gaze longingly into each others eyes with awkward close ups of their fingers almost grazing each other that Hollywood thinks means ‘true love’.
It didn’t fit into his relationship to Harry to ever say “I’m gay”, and so it was not stated explicitly (you might have noticed the book was told from Harry Potter’s perspective).
The point is though, that he is a homosexual, well respected, powerful, and very loved wizard- and his sexuality doesn’t matter because no one else thinks it matters. a.k.a. no one cares that he loves men, and that is wonderful.
And yet I knew he was gay in the first book. Fancy that.
Did you want her to make him dress in glittery platform boots, a crop top, and decorate his office in rainbow flags to make it more obvious for you?
In the very first chapter of the very first book I believe he’s wearing high-heeled boots and a an eye-smarting robe with stars all over it… that’s my memory anyway, I’d have to check.
But no really, there is valid criticism to be had here.
Because Jo Rowling made a choice to have the only gay charterer in seven books be someone who was elderly, celibate, and had no reason to ever mention his sexuality any time in the canon.
Saying ‘Dumbledore was gay’ after the last book is published is spineless and meaningless move that allows her to say that she wrote a gay character without actually working at portraying a gay character and facing the criticisms that come from portraying a gay character while her works were still in progress.
What does this mean about Authorial Intent re: the sexualities that we are to presume of all the other characters (after all, she didn’t say anyone else was gay)?
If the character’s sexuality is not apparent in the canon, then it’s up to fan interpretation and the fans are not wrong about it. Your post-work declarations are not valid, author. Time for me to once again quote Ferretbrain:
“As far as Rowling is concerned, Harry Potter is not a series of cultural artifacts existing within the world, but a world that exists in her imagination. This is why she feels so free to amend, interpret, and justify the text after its publication. As far as she’s concerned (and, as other FB articles have discussed, as far as a depressingly large number of other people are concerned) the Harry Potter universe has a distinct, external reality and the process of reading about Harry Potter is a process of bringing your understanding into line with this distinct, external reality. Essentially a person’s appreciation of Harry Potter (as far as Rowling is concerned) can be judged exclusively in terms of how closely it matches her own.”
The entire post on this subject, “What The Fucking Fucking Fuck JK Rowling?” is also really worthwhile.
Basically, ROWLING IS NOT CORRECT. If she didn’t write, in the books, anything that indicates that Dumbledore is gay, her declaration that he is because she’s the author and she says so is worth approximately squat in terms of character interpretation from the text, because the text is a thing that exists.
JK Rowling didn’t write, in her text, any explicitly sexual relationships. No one is stated to be having sex with anyone else at any time during the events at Hogwarts. We can infer in some instances that sex has occurred between characters; we can infer that Molly and Arthur Weasley have had a bunch of sex because they have seven kids. We know explicitly that Merope Gaunt raped Tom Riddle Sr. with the use of drugs, because that story was explicitly told. But no one has sex or even is said to be having sex on the page. Hence it is legitimate to debate whether it happened/is happening/will happen at any point in the story. What this means is that Rowling has no characters that are explicitly gay because she never shows characters in explicitly homosexual relationships. Just like she has no characters who are explicitly trans, and no characters that are explicitly outside of the gender binary. Not having characters like this is -safe- because the erasure of such characters is ubiquitous. These are marked categories of humanity. If we are not given explicit details about certain things pertaining to characters, it is an unfortunate fact that we, the readers, live in a culture where certain things are to be presumed about them. A character that is not described physically is presumed to be white, cis, able-bodied, and of averge weight and height. A character who isn’t in a romantic relationship with anyone and doesn’t have any sexual thoughts about anyone is presumed to be straight. It is not the fault of the reader for presuming these things, because these are assumptions that the author generally expects the reader to make; characters are from default classes of existence (Male, white, straight, able, average) until described otherwise. This is why white characters’ skintone is seldom described in fiction but black characters’ skin tone -always is- and why if a director makes a casting choice in which a character whose skintone in not described is played by a person of color, the fandom rants and raves and rends the heavens. It’s also why many readers feel totally comfortable ‘not picturing the character that way’ even when the character IS explicitly of color. Because white is default. Straight is default. Cis is default. POC, Gay, and Trans are -marked-.
Everyone go read “He’s Gay, and He’s Native American: Rowling and Scalzi Claim Marginal Identities for Charcters After the Fact”. I’ll wait here.
When an author declares information about a character that is not indicated on the page in any way, and says ‘I always envisioned them thus’…that’s useless to us as readers. When an author further says ‘If you envisioned the character some other way than the way I envisioned them, and you’re upset that I didn’t indicate that the character was that way, it’s your own fault. I always thought they were black and if you think the fact that I never described them as black means they’re white, it is you who are racist!’ that’s…. a fucking horrible, spineless move. SHAME ON YOU, AUTHOR. MOTHERFUCKING SHAME.
So yeah, maybe that’s why the reader looked like they wanted to slap you, JK. Just a thought.
Also, let me address this:
Did you want her to make him dress in glittery platform boots, a crop top, and decorate his office in rainbow flags to make it more obvious for you? Would that be enough of a stereotype to appease you people?
No one is asking for Dumbledore to have been ‘more gay’.
Her not mentioning Dumbledore’s sexuality in canon is not bad. It’s perfectly valid to have characters whose sexuality is never mentioned at all because it’s not important to the plot. Much like it’s ok to have characters about whom we know fuck all because they are not important to the plot. If the protag has a short conversation with a person identified only as ‘The police officer’ who is never even referred to by pronouns and who doesn’t appear again, absolutely nothing can be determined about that character other than that the protag believes them to be a police officer. And that’s fine.
Knowing shit about your characters that never makes it to the page is fine. I myself have many characters who only briefly appear in the work but who, in my own little head, have whole life stories before and after their appearance in the text. And that’s fine.
What isn’t fine is the author then going ahead and telling us all kinds of things about that character and pretending like they’re true because that’s what the author intended.
Dumbledore, like most of the characters in Harry Potter, doesn’t have a canon sexuality.
That’s not a problem at all. It just means that all bets are off and that no one’s speculations can be wrong (or right) because there is not enough evidence in the canon for anyone’s claims. It isn’t there on the page.
Once your canon is closed, you don’t get to add to it. That’s how canon works. ‘Dumbledore is gay’ is no more canon than ‘Dumbledore is straight’ or ‘Dumbledore is asexual’ or ‘Dumbledore is only sexually attracted to pink wereleopards from mars’ because Dumbledore’s sexuality is not a part of the story. My beef with JK Rowling’s declaration after the fact of Dumbledore’s gayness is that she’s basically trying to get the attention of having a gay character…without actually having had a gay character.
I want you to read these two other ferretbrain articles; they’re about race, but they could easily be about sexuality because they’re really about portrayals of marginalized characters and lack thereof:
Let me quote from that second one:
To put it another way, just imagine for a moment that Harry Potter had been a black kid. Of course first you need to get over the fact that it would then be a book about a black kid who gets rescued from his abusive black family by a kindly white guy, but if we assume that Harry was black and the Potter books weren’t written in such a way that “Muggle” was effectively a racial slur. You would then have a situation in which the single most recognised fictional character in the world was a black kid (not only a black kid, but a black British kid). It would be huge, just like it was huge the first time they let an actual black guy play Othello. It wouldn’t matter in the slightest that Harry Potter didn’t listen to hip-hop or talk about Malcom X or use “urban” slang or do whatever else it is that white people seem to think black people have to do in fiction to properly represent “black culture”. The simple fact of the most popular fictional character in the world having black skin would have been huge. It would have changed the way a generation of children thought about race, and it would have changed it for the better. It wouldn’t have been a miracle, it wouldn’t have abolished racism overnight, but it would have done more good than any three government initiatives you might care to name.
What if Dumbledore had actually been gay on the page? What if it was a known and explicit fact that he (or any character, for that matter) had during the books or in the past been involved in a romantic relationship with someone of the same sex? Not implied, not hinted, not ‘read between the lines, reader!’ - STATED. What if, in the best-selling Childrens/YA series in recent years, in a series of books that were a generational phenomenon, there were one or more characters who actually affectionately cheek-kissed and held hands with characters of the same sex. Attended the school dance with characters of the same sex. Had childish crushes on members of the same sex. Set up households and raised children with characters of the same sex. Existed, in canon, as explicitly gay characters. Not as ‘the author said it, so it must be true’ after the fact bullshit; undeniable and incontrovertible statement on the page during the story.
That would have been amazing.
“Dumbledore was gay because I said so” is a pale fucking imitation of what could have been. JK Rowling should not get ‘wrote a gay character’ props for her portrayal of Dumbedore.
Book Ron was an interesting, attractive and relatable character, and I feel that the movies really unfairly relegated him to the position of comic relief. The dynamics of the trio had to be simplified into hero + heroine + mascot, and that robbed us of a truly fascinating character. So here are a few things you should remember:
1. He really is poor and it matters. HP may have huge issues when it comes to representations of race and sexuality, but deserves a round of applause for having a character come from a low-income background, with the fact of their poverty not glossed over but made into a plot point. JKR is really consistent about this – about the things Ron eats and wears and buys and doesn’t buy, the way he reacts when Harry unwittingly flaunts his own wealth. Poorer kids who have to go without brand name clothes will see themselves in Ron, and richer kids will learn that poverty isn’t something you deserve. Kids who empathize with Ron because he can’t afford to replace a broken wand are less likely to grow up to be assholes who complain about the extravagant lifestyle of people on welfare.
2. He has knowledge about the world. Out of the trio, he is the only real insider in wizarding society. Hermione is the one who knows magical theory and basically everything that can be found in a library. But when it comes to wizarding society and all of its habits, rules and unspoken assumptions, he is the one who can fill the other two in. Throughout the course of the septology, he does almost as much exposition as Hermione.
3. He is actually quite intelligent. Despite what the movies would have you believe, he is not dumb. He is mediocre in most of his schoolwork, and lacks Hermione’s booksmarts, but he is an excellent chess player, meaning he possesses good strategic abilities. He is the one who keeps a calm head while throttled by Devil’s Snare, and he talks Hermione through saving both their lives. He has decent observational skills, after all he was to one to spot inconsistencies in Hermione’s third-year time table. Seeing his common sense and social insight as less valuable than Hermione’s academic knowledge betrays an inherently flawed definition of intelligence. (Especially since academic knowledge tends to be gendered as male, and social knowledge as female, think of Poirot and Miss Marple.)
4. He is loyal. He is the embodiment of loyalty. The movies erase some of the most poignant moments proving this, and hand some of them over to Hermione. But it is Ron who stands in front of Harry, daring Sirius Black to kill them both, despite his broken leg. It is Ron who repeatedly defies Malfoy and even Snape to protect Hermione from verbal abuse. When his mother believes tabloid lies about Hermione, he takes Hermione’s side. When his brother tells him to stop being friends with Harry because of the political risk, he is so furious at the suggestion that he tears up the letter. He is unthinkingly loyal to his friends, this is why it is such a big deal that he leaves in the seventh book – because it contradicts who he really is.
5. He is genuinely funny. In the movies we are more likely to laugh at Ron than laugh with him, and the jokes he makes tend to be somewhat juvenile. But in the books his sense of humour evolves with him and with the reader, leading to this dry, snarky, irreverent tone that is genuinely very enjoyable. Ron is fun to read, and he sounds like someone who would be lots of fun to be around. He jokes a lot, but it is rarely spiteful, and often meant to comfort or distract someone – a proof of emotional intelligence.
6. He is kind. I don’t really how to put this, other than the fact that if Ron was a girl, he would be immediately defined as a caretaker. He stays in Hogwarts over Christmas so that Harry doesn’t have to be alone. He often acts oblivious and selfish on the surface, but ultimately he really obviously pays attention to the wellbeing of his friends. From his words and actions and body-language we can piece together the sort of person who can make life suck less just by showing up, who is always there for his friends even if he cannot do anything specific to help.
7. He has a huge inferiority complex. The movies hardly touch on it but in the books it is his main character arc. He feels inferior to his brothers’ achievements, to Harry’s chosen status, to Hermione’s intelligence. It is explicitly stated in book four that he doesn’t understand how can someone not want to be chosen. The books are far more clear in implying that he gets together with Lavander because he’s insecure about romance. The Horcrux doesn’t get to him through his love for Hermione like it does in the movie, it gets to him through the nagging suspicion that he has never been good enough for anything or anyone ever, including Hermione. And the movie laughed off the scene after the destruction of the Horcrux, when Harry finally gets how much Ron suffered of this fear of being second best and Ron gets that Harry never chose to be chosen. But fear of being inadequate is the primary driving force of Ron throughout the septology, and the movie fails to see value in Ron just as Ron fails to see value in himself: his caring, his loyalty, his wealth of non-academic knowledge and his awesome sense of humour are not tangible achievements, and they are not something somebody notices about themselves.
Movie Ron is the person book Ron is afraid of being in his lowest moments, an incompetent oaf who makes rude jokes and chews with his mouth open, somebody their friends only keep around out of pity and habit, somebody Hermione would have to settle for out of a lack of better options. But book Ron, for all his flaws, is a loyal, funny and warm person with many valuable practical skills. Also: I can imagine Hermione regularly thanking her lucky stars for ending up with someone as amazing as him.
Okay, okay, I’m going to tell you what Hermione sees in Ron.
A trio is a balancing act, right? They’re equalizers of each other. Harry’s like the action, Hermione’s the brains, Ron’s the heart. Hermione has been assassinated in these movies, and I mean that genuinely—by giving her every single positive character trait that Ron has, they have assassinated her character in the movies. She’s been harmed by being made to be less human, because everything good Ron has, she’s been given.
So, for instance: “If you want to kill Harry, you’re going to have to kill me too”—RON, leg is broken, he’s in pain, gets up and stands in front of Harry and says this. Who gets that line in the movie? Hermione.
“Fear of a name increases the fear of the thing itself.” Hermione doesn’t say Voldemort’s name until well into the books—that’s Dumbledore’s line. When does Hermione say it in the movies? Beginning of Movie 2.
When the Devil’s Snare is curling itself around everybody, Hermione panics, and Ron is the one who keeps his head and says “Are you a witch or not?” In the movie, everybody else panics and Hermione keeps her head and does the biggest, brightest flare of sunlight spell there ever was.
So, Hermione—all her flaws were shaved away in the films. And that sounds like you’re making a kick-ass, amazing character, and what you’re doing is dehumanizing her. And it pisses me off. It really does.
In the books, they balance each other out, because where Hermione gets frazzled and maybe her rationality overtakes some of her instinct, Ron has that to back it up; Ron has a kind of emotional grounding that can keep Hermione’s hyper-rationalness in check. Sometimes Hermione’s super-logical nature grates Harry and bothers him, and isn’t the thing he needs even if it’s the right thing, like when she says “You have a saving people thing.” That is the thing that Harry needed to hear, she’s a hundred percent right, but the way she does it is wrong. That’s the classic “she’s super logical, she’s super brilliant, but she doesn’t know how to handle people emotionally,” at least Harry.
So in the books they are this balanced group, and in the movies, in the movies—hell, not even Harry is good enough for Hermione in the movies. No one’s good enough for Hermione in the movies—God isn’t good enough for Hermione in the movies! Hermione is everybody’s everything in the movies.
Harry’s idea to jump on the dragon in the books, who gets it in the movies? Hermione, who hates to fly. Hermione, who overcomes her withering fear of flying to take over Harry’s big idea to get out of the—like, why does Hermione get all these moments?
[John: Because we need to market the movie to girls.]
I think girls like the books, period. And like the Hermione in the books, and like the Hermione in the books just fine before Hollywood made her idealized and perfect. And if they would have trusted that, they would have been just fine.
Would the movies have been bad if she was as awesome as she was in the books, and as human as she was in the books? Would the movies get worse?
She IS a strong girl character. This is the thing that pisses me off. They are equating “strong” with superhuman. To me, the Hermione in the book is twelve times stronger than the completely unreachable ideal of Hermione in the movies. Give me the Hermione in the book who’s human and has flaws any single day of the week.
Here’s a classic example: When Snape in the first book yells at Hermione for being an insufferable know-it-all, do you want to know what Ron says in the book? “Well, you’re asking the questions, and she has to answer. Why ask if you don’t want to be told?” What does he say in the movie? “He’s got a point, you know.” Ron? Would never do that. Would NEVER do that, even before he liked Hermione. Ron would never do that."
yeah snape had a horrible childhood but he also
uses various racial slurs, emotionally abuses child of childhood crush for having resemblance to said crush’s husband, ((is literally a friendzoned dudebro)), flushed remus’ career down the drain over personal resentment knowing fully well he’d been homeless, jobless, all alone, and knowing fully well remus would not get another job,
abused his students ((remember the “i see no difference” to hermione when a slytherin cursed her teeth, something she was self-conscious about, instead of punishing the one who cursed her)), the students he was supposed to take care of, to the point where he was the worst fear of one of them
the fact severus snape formed when neville longbottom was supposed to see his worst fear in the boggart says a lot tbh and i know it was supposed to be a funny moment haha silly neville but to me it says a lot that despite there being dementors and ghosts and massive fucking spiders, and having his parents tortured half to death and into madness, neville’s worst fear is one of his teachers
OK I GUESS IT’S TIME TO TALK ABOUT THIS.
First of all, this article is a despicable piece of journalism, it takes bits and pieces of an interview which will aparently be released later this month and twists is so much it’s ridiculous to me that people fall for it. If you see at the actual quotes by Rowling she never actually mentions Harry when she talks about RHr. The only things that are in quotations are about how RHr were the original couple she wanted to write so she might have stuck to that plot because she loved it and overlooked character development. DOES IT SAY ANYWHERE THAT SHE WISHES SHE’D HAVE MADE HERMIONE END UP WITH HARRY? ABSOLUTELY FUCKING NOT. It’s just a stupid headline aimed to attract attention; it is literally no different to celebrity tabloids with no shred of credibility. It’s just so funny to me that there are people from both sides who are either celebrating because HHr is somehow canon now (????????????????????????????????????????????????) or mourning RHr and how it is now ruined.
But you know what let’s for a second assume that the entire JKR interview comes out this month and inside she says that Hermione should have ended up with Harry, that Ron should have married Doubledore and that Mrs. Weasley really wanted to run off with Lucius…so what? Maybe she’s at a point in her life where she is criticing her own work and wondering what she might have done differently. She has given hundreds of interviews and she will give hundreds more and she might say completely different things and I don’t see the point in taking every single thing she says so seriously. What matters is that Harry Potter has been written and has been loved by billions of people and decades will come and go and every JKR interview will be forgotten when a new one comes out but you know what will remain the same? The books! And in those books Hermione and Harry were not once written as a potentially romantic couple. In the books the main character didn’t get the girl because he never persued the girl; instead he built and amazing friendship with the girl and he was there to see the girl gradually fall in love with his best friend. Instead of going for a cliche love triangle JKR gave us a refreshing trio full of love and friendship and I’m always going to be grateful about that. I don’t care if she now regrets it, I don’t care if she comes out next year and says something completely different, what she wrote is what she wrote and that’s what will remain.
So yeah, I’m sorry you are sad but imo you have no need to be. Nothing has actually changed. If you want maybe go back and reread some of your favorite RHr moments from the books!
Harry Potter meme - seven relationships;
Ron & Hermione | “Mental that one, I’m telling you”
inspired by JK Rowling, other authors speak out about pairing regrets in their work
The Harry Potter shipwars going on right now based on a sourceless article where JK never actually says she should have put Harry and Hermione together are so funny/ridiculous. HP ended years ago, RHr got married and had children and this whole thing,if true which I doubt, will be forgotten in like a month.