Every now and again, God and Regent of the Wizarding World, J.K. Rowling, decides to gift us with a morsel of fact about the Harry Potter universe. A fact that she definitely had written down somewhere in her draft outlines well in advance of publishing each installment in the series. Absolutely not just something she thought seemed like a neat thing to say about the series that provides her with the soft downy blanket of cash which I assume she sleeps bundled in because obviously that’s what you do when you have that much money, right? If I’m projecting please don’t tell me.
Image via Bruce Clay
The most recent installment in Rowling’s retcons is a tidbit she delivered to Radio Times this past Wednesday: In a bonus feature on the newly released The Crimes of Grindelwald Blu-ray DVD, Rowling and the film’s director, David Yates, discuss the intimacies of the Dumbledore/Grindelwald affair, addressing the long-speculated question of whether or not Grindelwald reciprocated Dumbledore’s love. According to Rowling, the feelings were mutual, but this doesn’t appear in the books because, reasons. As all Potterheads are aware, the romantic relationship between Dumbledore and Grindelwald has been left out of the books and movies, and is only considered canonical because of Rowling’s post-Potter comments. But the sexual aspect of their relationship is even further obscured (which is understandable given that, above all things, Harry Potter is for kids), and Rowling’s words on this DVD feature reveal her reason for leaving these spicy details out:
So I’m less interested in the sexual side – though I believe there is a sexual dimension to this relationship – than I am in the sense of the emotions they felt for each other, which ultimately is the most fascinating thing about all human relationships.
This recent development is a definitive statement that the relationship between these two key figures in wizard history was reciprocal, intense, and had a deep influence on their character and the shape that their futures would eventually take. But it’s also a statement that Dumbledore and Grindelwald… you know.
Image via Tumblr
There’s so much to unpack about this, and as with most cases of J.K. Rowling retroactively fleshing (eyes emoji) out the HP universe, it has resulted in some gorgeous Twitter comedy.
Just remembered this video exists and based on recent events I’m starting to think it was made by J.K. Rowling pic.twitter.com/VN581C7MfZ
— jon (@prasejeebus) March 17, 2019
Not to Be Outdone by J.K. Rowling, Nintendo Confirms Waluigi is Uncircumcised for Some Reasonhttps://t.co/XzFpMk24L4
— Hard Drive (@HardDriveMag) March 17, 2019
People criticise J.K. Rowling but how great would it be if George Lucas came out of retirement to declare that Salacious Crumb was an unstoppable fuck machine
— Pixelated Boat: The Junior Novelization (@pixelatedboat) March 17, 2019
But there is a less jovial turn to the response to Rowling’s latest afterthought addition. Anyone who has read the Harry Potter books and watched the Harry Potter movies knows that none of these things she says make it into any of her writing, nor any of the film adaptations. The romantic and sexual orientations of Dumbledore and Grindelwald only exist in her head. The significance of this is not lost on her audience, nor her former audience.
J.K. Rowling Confirms Some Characters in Her Books and Movies Are Gay Everywhere Except in the Books or the Movies https://t.co/Y5gcbMWNB9
— Eric D. Snider (@EricDSnider) March 16, 2019
It was one thing in 2007 when she first announced that “Dumbledore is gay” at Carnegie Hall. Marriage equality only existed in a handful of U.S. states, the Defense of Marriage Act was still enforceable, we didn’t even have Glee yet, which would expose many people of my generation to the first gay character they would see on screen. Despite not being a part of the books, it still meant a lot to people that Rowling would have one of her most crucial characters identify as gay. Now, however, it’s 2019. The U.S. has marriage equality (and hopefully we keep it), while not repealed, DOMA has been rendered impotent by Obergefell v. Hodges, and Glee‘s been off the air since 2015, and has itself been put through scrutiny for its lack of LGBTQIA+ diversity, a fact glossed over by its initial novelty.
In other words, Rowling could get away with this before, when including queer characters in media, especially children’s media, was practically unheard of, and the vicious backlash against that which did exist usually won. The book series is over and done with, but there is no reason why Dumbledore and Grindelwald’s relationship should be completely omitted from the new Fantastic Beasts film series. The excuse of children’s media doesn’t even hold water anymore, in fact, Cartoon Network recently hosted the first lesbian wedding on a children’s television show last year on its groundbreaking cartoon, Steven Universe, to the joy of many queer households.
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