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Medium Dawn Felagund of the Fountain

So. Dumbledore Is Gay.

The (Cyber) Bag of Weasels

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"About as much fun as a bag of weasels"...when I first saw this Irish adage, it made me think of the life of a writer: sometimes perilous, sometimes painful, certainly interesting. My paper journal has always been called "The Bag of Weasels." This is the Bag of Weasels' online home.

So. Dumbledore Is Gay.

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I'm putting the rest behind the cut because it's strongly opinionated and I don't want to unwillingly subject anyone to my rantishness.

Comments are welcome, as always, but I ask that people be polite (to me and all others) and keep in mind that this is my opinion and my journal and, yes, I need to rant sometimes in my journal.

First, J.K. Rowling made the "startling" statement recently that Harry's mentor Dumbledore was gay.

I put "startling" in quotes because a lot of people sure seemed to be startled by it. But I don't really see why. Surely, amid the dozens of characters in the Harry Potter series, some of them were gay. Why not Dumbledore?

But I'm far from literate in Harry Potter canon, so I really don't want to enter that particular argument (canon-wise, anyway). I've read all of the Harry Potter books. I enjoyed them all to a degree, even the "out-of-left-field" Deathly Hallows that seems to have bothered so many other fans. However, I'm not inspired to creativity the way that I am with Tolkien's books. I can't imagine ever writing--or reading--Harry Potter fan fiction with any level of enjoyment. And frankly, the fandom itself scares me a teensy bit as well. So I'm a fan, but not in the sense of belonging to the fandom.

But I'm interested in the books enough that Rowling's revelation--and the ensuing uproar it caused--has been intriguing and entertaining for me to follow, even in absence of the obvious fact that I care about gay rights more than most straight, married Americans. I've found some of the reactions interesting. And some downright offensive. Let's start there.

People. Please, for the love of Elves, stop wringing your hands over the fact that now that Dumbledore's gay, that might mean that there was something nefarious and sexual in his relationship with Harry. I cannot begin to express in words how offensive I find this idea, and I keep seeing it springing up among the posts and comments of otherwise clear-headed, rational, and (I thought) non-prejudiced people.

Homosexuality and pedophilia are not the same thing. Just because a man is gay does not mean that he's attracted to young boys. Homosexuality is a sexual preference in adult, post-pubescent partners, and pedophilia is a mental disorder, a paraphilia, or an abnormal sexual attraction to children of either gender. And I don't think you need a degree in clinical psychology to see how stupid and offensive it is to confuse the two.

Think about it a minute. If you're a straight adult, think of an opposite-sex young child that you know, maybe a nephew, cousin, or neighbor. Now, you're attacted to the opposite sex, right? But are you attracted in any way to that child? Hmmm? Didn't think so.

And while I am not a Harry Potter scholar by any stretch of even the most fertile imagination, I've had the "subtext" pointed out to me: Yes, the point where Dumbledore says something along the lines of it being dangerous to be around Harry since he's loves him too much.

Now if Dumbledore was a pedophile, then why is this suddenly triggering people to shout, "omg!!11!1one!1!" now that he's a gay pedophile? Because people who abuse children do not necessarily do so in accordance with their sexual preference because (again) sexual preference and paraphilia are not the same thing. I would think that a community as open-minded and thoughtful (and sexually informed) as much of fandom seems to be would not need to be told that. I see now how wrong I am.

If people were worried about Dumbledore having the wrong ideas about Harry, then that quote should have raised eyebrows from day one, not just when Dumbledore's sexual preference became known to us. Straight pedophiles abuse same-sex children all of the time. I see this on my job; I have seen this in my family, where some of my male cousins were abused by a straight, male family member. Because (I've said it already but it bears repeating) sexual preference and paraphilia are not the same thing.

And this doesn't even address my annoyance with the idea that "love" always equals "sex." If I say that I love spaghetti (and I do), then I assure you that I am not thinking of getting busy with a big, steaming pile of it. Or if I sign off my email to you, "Love and hugs," as I sometimes do, then there's no need to worry that, as I type this, I am engaging in lacivious fantasies about you, me, and a steaming pile of spaghetti. Really.

Then I hear a lot of, "Well, even if Dumbledore didn't necessarily have the hots for Harry because he was gay, then it was still a bad idea for J.K. Rowling to 'out' Dumbledore because now that's only going to fuel the fire Christian fundies have against the books and gays in general."

So, let me get this straight. (Pun intended.) Rather than challenge fundamentalist Christians on their hateful beliefs, we should just avoid bringing up anything related to those beliefs lest, in their rush to express their hatred, they reveal themselves to be the bigoted idiots that they are.

Okay ...?

Rather, I think that we should throw this in their faces. "Hey, you know that book you hate? About the witches and stuff? Did you know that a character in it is gay? Yeah, like he's a man who likes other men. What do you think of that? Do you think that's sick?"

And maybe--just maybe--as they drive themselves into a frenzy of hatred, more people will begin to realize just what hateful morons they really are. And the next time a George W. Bush runs for office and everyone's clapping and cheering about what a good moral man he is because he identifies as an evangelical Christian, then they'll stop and remember all the foaming at the mouth over a children's book where forces of good defeat forces of evil and the main character himself makes a Christ-like sacrifice to save his friends. And they'll remember that all the rabid hatred towards this book was inspired in part by the fact that the author of said books identified a character as gay outside the pages of the books themselves. And maybe they'll realize that such knee-jerk irrationality is not really ideal as the driving force behind our foreign and domestic policy, and we'll be spared what we've all endured for the past seven years.

Or maybe I am, again, outing myself as a pie-eyed idealist.

Regardless, I think that Rowling's announcement was a good thing. I understand the frustration of the fandom in having their completed canon upheaved again. Believe me--I write Silmarillion stories--I understand what a pain in the arse muddied canon can be. And I understand the protests of others like me who stand up for the rights of gay people in pointing out that, yet again, the character of alternate sexuality bites the dust. I would have loved nothing more than to see Ron show up at platform 9¾ on the arm of his ... husband. But nonetheless, I do think that having a gay character in a series of mainstream novels--mainstream children's novels--even if he isn't outed within the pages of the books themselves, is a step, however small, toward recognizing that gay people are a part of our world, a part of our society, and may even be our trusted friends and mentors.
  • *De-lurks to stand and applaud*
  • I couldn't have said it better. I have read the explosive reactions (evangelicans included) on a republican forum, but I also enjoyed the good natured - 'whats the big deal about this again?' reaction in my beloved (Dutch) newsgroup when I mentioned in a book thread. Two different cultures, two opposite reactions. I can imagine that for some who saw the Christian values mirrored in the books (like you I didn't read the books *that* thoroughly and am still stuck at the beginning of chapter 2, book five), who suddenly saw a complete different side of their beloved books. I don't think Rowling intended it as 'in your face' that much and I wish people would just sit back and take this newsbit in strides instead of attacking it so vigoursly. :c)
    • I can only express again how frustrated this country makes me sometimes.

      I love my country and am proud of my nationality, but I also can't fault the worldwide perception that Americans are a bunch of blundering morons. Because--I hate to say it--by and large, we are.

      The Harry Potter thing only underscores this yet again. Here we have a wildly popular series of children's books. It gets kids reading. In case people haven't noticed, the US is at the back of the pack in terms of educating our kids.

      Furthermore, the stories highlight the importance of love, loyalty, and standing up for what one believes in and for what is right. All of which is missing all too often in this crazy world we live in.

      But the books have witches and wizards and magic and so they must be evil. Why? Because some moron's interpretation of a 2000-year-old book that's been translated and copied by hundreds of men (i.e., not god) says that this is wrong.

      Then, of course, a character is revealed as being gay outside the pages of said book. omg. Cue Armageddon; surely the end is near.

      Of course, all the while, we're stuck in this endless and ridiculous war while our rights at home are being slowly eroded in the interest of benefiting the rich and the powerful, and our country can't even get behind environmental changes to save our own lives ... or those of our children.

      But a character in a book is gay. Sound the alarms!

      But do we care?!
  • You left out all the gays and gay sympathisers who ranted at this revelation because Rowling should have said so before, and/or because he was pictured as being in love with an evil man (so what? The story happened to flow that way. Would you kill a plot because of a lame case of political correctness?) and/or because it´s somehow implied that Dumbledore did not get any in the century before he bit the dust. (where? I must have missed the part where Rowling described the Headmaster´s love life. Sheesh.)

    I really don´t get why people of both sides take this as if it was really relevant or the end of the world. I´m basically happy because it´s interesting news, a show of a no less interesting stance on the author´s part , and of course because homophobes are pissed. That´s all. I´m not going to identify all my personal issues with Dumbledore and go around throwing it at everyone´s face.
    • Oh, I missed lots of annoying people in this whole "Dumbledore reveal" saga. Once the post got so long, I thought to spare you the full vitriol of my diatribe. ;)

      (Besides, it took me a week just to write this!)

      I also left out the fanfic writers who are whining because this damn author won't shut up and leave their canon neat and tidy for them.

      (*world's smallest violin* I write Silmarillion. I understand messy canon. It is a pain in the ass. It is also a fact of life. Get over it. At least the author is alive to ask.)

      Or, as my sister points out further down the thread, she should have made someone else gay because they like the idea that Lupin or Tonks or Sirius or Neville or whoever as gay. Dumbledore just isn't sexy enough for them.

      But these people are merely annoying in a "I disagree with you but see no larger implications in what you have to say" kind of way. The sort that makes for a fun discussion but doesn't tend to raise my blood pressure. But the Gay!Dumbledore = Pedophile!Dumbledore people are underscoring outdated and incorrect ideas that I see as having a really detrimental effect on getting homosexuals equal rights in this country.

      Hence, the rant. :)
  • And btw...

    A crack video to take the Revelation of the Year in good humour:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B1kxR1S_zE0
  • Well said.

    You might be interested in reading Leonard Pitts' column on the subject. :)
    • Allie! *glomps*

      Thank you for the link. What an interesting article! ... and one that I strongly agree with. ;) It also raises a really interesting reason why it may have been best to keep Dumbledore's sexuality a secret until after the books were published. I've seen a lot of criticism on this count, i.e., "Rowling didn't have the mettle to write an openly gay character and endure the criticism that would have come with that." But I like this writer's point: that this would have dominated how we saw Dumbledore rather than letting us get to know him as a person and then find out his homosexuality as merely a detail. Having had someone very close to me "come out" a few years ago, I can say that this is pretty much how it worked for me. I obviously loved her no less or thought of her any differently ... just in this tiny detail. Hopefully, Rowling's revelation will do the same for Dumbledore.
  • It's after midnight and I should be sleeping, but I had to read this. Now I have, and I won't be able to type up anything sensible (maybe later! I hope!), so I'll limit my response to wild cheering and applauding for the time being. You've put this all so much better than I probably could have.

    (Personally I think the reason why Harry Potter, much though I enjoy the books and to some extent the movies, doesn't inspire me to do or read fanfic is that it's all too... complete. My brother had this theory that the old Star Wars episodes are better because they have more blanks to fill in - scenes that must have happened but aren't described in detail, characters that show up in the back of some scene but don't have much of a story, time spans that just go by - whereas the new ones are so tied in by merchandising and named random minor characters and book series that there's no room for the fan to run wild in. I think that's my problem with Harry Potter: Most of the blanks are filled in. The only things left vague are parts of the past (which is why the Marauders are about the only thing HP that interest me fanfic-wise) and the future. For someone who doesn't take overmuch joy from AU - like me - that's about all that's left to explore. Now with Tolkien, there's a hell of a lot of action that happens in two sentences ("... and Thorondor bore them back to Mithrim. There Maedhros in time was healed..."), or scenes that must have happened but aren't talked about (those seven sons must have been begotten at some point...!) in much detail, which is paradise for the wild fanficcer's mind.
    Or some such.

    --- I'm off on a tangent, I meant to talk about something else, and I should be in bed in the first place. Apologies. >_>)
  • Indeed, though I think that JKR's statement was, well, not "bad", but pointless. It feels to me like trying to keep the spotlight on the Potter stuff a little longer, since with the release of the final book, attention was (still is) bound to dwindle. I don't think Dumbledore's sexual orientation has anything to do with the plot of the book. To me, saying, "Oh, and did you know Dumbledore is gay?" doesn't add anything to the story and the relationships. His sexuality was never, as far as I'm concerned, a part of the story, let alone important to the books/how events played out. I see him as a fatherly/grandfatherly figure - you know, the type you don't really want to think about in a sexual way at all, gay or straight.

    But you're right that gay =/= pedophile, and we shouldn't try to "protect" the Christian fundies. (But I wouldn't mind if someone protected me from the Christian fundies...;) )

    Personally, I'm still pretty sure Draco secretly fancies Harry. That scene in the Room of Requirement? They're meant to be...;)
  • :D

    Je suis d'accord, cherie!

    *hugs*
  • People. Please, for the love of Elves, stop wringing your hands over the fact that now that Dumbledore's gay, that might mean that there was something nefarious and sexual in his relationship with Harry. I cannot begin to express in words how offensive I find this idea, and I keep seeing it springing up among the posts and comments of otherwise clear-headed, rational, and (I thought) non-prejudiced people.

    Thank you! I haven't understood this argument about gay Dumbledore meaning having the hots for Harry Dumbledore from the start, and I feel it offensive and very off the charts, as well. I admit that the revelation that Dumbledore was gay gives subtext to a few of his relationships, especially the one with Snape (even if that would have been unrequited on Snape's side); but that would be an adult Snape. And it may also have been nothing of the sort. So, I had really a hard time to understand why Dumbledore is gay should mean Dumbledore is a possible child-molester. *shakes head*

    So, let me get this straight. (Pun intended.) Rather than challenge fundamentalist Christians on their hateful beliefs, we should just avoid bringing up anything related to those beliefs lest, in their rush to express their hatred, they reveal themselves to be the bigoted idiots that they are.

    Thank you, and applause. I think you said it here more clearly than I would have done. No, we should not cow in to hateful Christian fundamentalists, or to hateful fundamentalists of other beliefs, too. And I think this whole reaction of said fundamentalists to Rowlings revelation just as offensive as you do.

    *Applauds to you*

    Aislynn

    • Thank you, Aislynn! I feel much less alone after making this post to see that others have been just as bothered and offended* by all this omg-Dumbledore-had-the-hots-for-Harry-because-he's-gay bull.

      * And I generally avoid the word "offended" in this context altogether since it seems, in the US, someone is always offended at once innocuous thing or another; the word has very little meaning anymore.

      I suppose I've been a bit disappointed in the reaction to much of the fandom to this. I expected that they would maintain some reality and an iota of perspective about Rowling's revelation. I guess I should know by now not to expect fandom to be logical, eh? ;)
  • Great points, Dawn. There actually was a one plot point in the Deathly Hallows book that made more sense to me in the context of knowing Dumbledore was gay--that he actually had been in love with that bad-guy wizard Gellert Grindelwald (brilliant and attractive and Dumbledore very close to him). After I had I finished Deathly Hallows my daughter and I discussed it and she said, "OMG Dumbledore's gay! He was obviously in love with the guy. It's the only way that plot point makes sense." I told her it looked like that was the only logical explanation to me also. Then that is exactly what JKR said. Fine. I was happy it cleared up an otherwise incomprehensible plot point for me.

    The homophobic, stupid reactionary stuff bothered me less (because, hey, I hate and detest it, but I live here, I know all about it, it's a sad reality of social backwardness in the country that I live in). For me, however, intelligent people who complained they didn't want to hear what she thought about her characters did bother me. Oh, give me a break! Writers love to talk about the huge investment of time, energy and imagination they put into a backstory that can never be used, for whatever reasons. (I never get over trying to work more and more of my bockstory in, but sometimes I have to cut it back out, because it muddies the story I am trying to write and points I want to be sure the reader to understands.) The only way I can get satisfaction is to talk to other people obsessed with the same characters about my version of the between-the-lines story. I was very happy that she spilled her backstory--I can never get enough of backstories myself (as people who talk to me well know).
    • For me, however, intelligent people who complained they didn't want to hear what she thought about her characters did bother me. Oh, give me a break! Writers love to talk about the huge investment of time, energy and imagination they put into a backstory that can never be used, for whatever reasons.

      Yes! Dawn covered most of the points of this HP "debate" that irk me, but this is another one. So many people have come out and complained because it messes up their canon (does it?) and I've been wanting to shake them and say, "You're writers! How can you possibly get upset at another writer for this!" I'm so glad you said it. :-)

      Then there is the semi-related point that, "JK Rowling should have made someone else gay." Umm, really? Should she have done this even if none of the other characters were actually gay in her mind or in her writing, just to appease the masses?

      We all have characters in our heads who are - for whatever reason - created a certain way. I see no reason to change that because someone doesn't like one aspect of the character you've created.

      And sorry to say, fan-ficcers, but I think JKR knows more about her characters and - more importantly - her intentions, than you do. ;-)

      Anyway, sorry to steal your comment thread but I wanted to post a big *Yay* to your comment. :-D
    • (no subject) - dawn_felagund - Expand
  • 1. Yes, HP fandom is batshit.

    2. It didn't upheave my canon, since I actually did ship Dumbledore/Grindelwald after book seven. Which shows just how much fandom has gotten to me that I was convinced he WAS gay before it was confirmed.

    3. I hate how people think Christian=perfect and always moral. I'm Christian, and I *like* to think I have some sense of morality, but...I don't think it necessarily makes me anymore moral than the next person! (The one thing I hate is how some Christians are all "we are so persecuted!" and it's like, um, hello, ever hear about that thing called the Crusades? The Spanish Inquisition? Not to mention sites like godhatesfags.com? Seriously, a lot of us aren't that hateful, but it's not like the faith's general history is so pure and clean. /rant)



    • Which shows just how much fandom has gotten to me that I was convinced he WAS gay before it was confirmed.

      Lol! You and heartofoshun's daughter too, apparently! :) Actually, it does make sense of a part of the book that, for me, seemed to come a bit out of the blue. It explains a lot of Dumbledore's otherwise OOC behavior at that point.

      On Point the Third ... I actually feel very sorry for rationale, moderate Christians living in the US right now.

      As an agnostic, I can say that when I meet a person who identifies him or herself immediately as Christian, my guard flies up. And I know that this is wrong and biased of me (because I do respect the right of a person to privately hold whatever beliefs they want), but I have gotten to that point from being criticized and preached at by some Christians that I automatically assume the worst, and I become guarded around those people as a result.

      It does my heart good to hear a Christian criticize the whole "persecuted Christian" line oft-repeated here in the US. I mean ... pardon? A group that holds a comfortable majority in the population and almost exclusively holds power in the government cannot be persecuted. I'm sorry. People who believe differently than they do asserting their rights is not the same as persecution.

      If they want a current example of persecution, they should consider parents who can't keep their child because the child "belonged" to their deceased partner. Or a person who can't visit his or her loved one on a death bed because their same-sex union is not "family." Or people who get beaten to death for whom they love.

      Okay ... /rant. Sorry. ;)
  • I haven't been hearing those comments (pedophilia? really?), so I must have avoided that slice of the population. Oddly enough, someone went back to read the first book after DH, and was disturbed by Dumbledore's apparent habit of wandering the castle at night and spying on his students while he was invisible (this was how he found Harry staring at the Mirror). But this was before JKR made her announcement, and wasn't a serious complaint, just a 'woah, that's creepy; why didn't I notice that before?'

    Most people were either annoyed that it came up 'after the fact' - in the, 'if this was so important to you, why didn't you mention it in the book?' kinda way, or got into discussions on whether or not you could tell from the book...which leads to silly conversations about Dumbledore's 'flair' and eccentric clothing choices being glaring signs...signs that practically everyone missed until we were told, 'oh yeah, btw, he's gay.' ;)

    There really is no reason for Dumbledore the mentor to discuss his love life or preferences with Harry, so there's no reason for it to have ever come up in the book. The only two ways I could see it being worked into book 7 would be as a 'reveal' by Rita Skeeter in her biography, or by introducing a character who was in a relationship with him (which she did, with Grindelwald, but still). So, I see the reveal as an insight into Dumbledore's character, but not really that big of a deal - it never really mattered to the story.

    I read (and write) HP fanfic, so I've had to repeat, over and over again to people, that this isn't really going to lead to a spike in Dumbledore slash. All HP characters are slashed, and Dumbledore was no exception prior to the releast of DH. And after DH....as was already mentioned, the GG/AD slash appeared before she made her announcement. The intense summer friendship between 17 year old geniuses begged for that sort of exploration. Fandom always sees stuff like that with such subtle clues...because usually, it's not really there. But in this case?


    I just think it's tragic that Dumbledore, the great champion of love, had such a tragic personal experience with love - in his family, and in his (seemingly) only real relationship with an 'equal.'
    • Agreed on all counts!

      I've found the fandom reaction so interesting during this, with the homophobes throwing a hissy fit and some of the gay rights people throwing a hissy fit too.

      I agree with you ... revealing Dumbledore's relationship in the book would have been weird. It's still a book for kids, so too many romantic/sexual relationships I wouldn't think interesting for kids. It's not even a matter of appropriateness. ;) I remember being a big fan of the Saddle Club book series as a kid and kind of sighing whenever one of the girls was cuddling with her boyfriend, like, "Okay, move on, where are the horses!" But I digress.

      Some of the omg-dumbledore-is-gay-he-must-be-a-pedophile!, I suspect, was ignorant people jumping on a bandwagon. At least, what I observed. Doesn't make it less annoying, though.

      Also, I've been meaning to tell you, SCA meetings are Friday nights at 7:30 at the Christ the King church off of Security Blvd (west of 695, about a mile down the road), should you ever have an evening free. ;)
  • there's no need to worry that, as I type this, I am engaging in lacivious fantasies about you, me, and a steaming pile of spaghetti.

    You're not? What's with you, woman? Get cracking! Fantasies in gear, break out the marinara sauce, hut hut hut!
  • My reaction to Rowling's revelation was, "oh, I hadn't picked that up, but of course, it makes sense," and then to forget all about it. I read all the HP books and enjoyed them, but the characters don't grab my imagination at all--certainly not enough to think much about the "inner man" or boy, woman, whatever.

    But I'm glad, for other reasons, that Rowling did this. A jab at bigotry, however small!
    • Hear, hear!

      That was pretty much my reaction too.

      "Cool, a gay character in a mainstream and very popular work of fiction. That's a good thing to show kids that gay people exist in daily life and aren't necessarily weird."

      And ...

      "Darn, how did I not pick up on the fact that he was so OOC with his obsession with Grindelwald because of luuurve?!" ;)))
  • Thanks for posting this.

    As we've talked about somewhat in email when this story broke, I'm amazed at the number of horrible reactions from people, but especially from generally-sane-liberals who suddenly think Dumbledore is a *squicky* paedophile. What has changed? A writer who spent most of her adult life conceiving these characters - and no doubt loves her creations - has revealed a tiny detail that would be of interest to people and yet was not possible to work into the plot of the books (although I'd argue that, since a few of the commenters above picked up on Dumbledore's sexuality pre-announcement, that we really just weren't looking that hard until JKR called attention to it).

    What is the big frickin' deal?! It's interesting, but it certainly doesn't change anything. If readers were envisioning Dumbledore as a paedophile pre-announcement, they are welcome to continue. All others have no business finding it personally offensive now that he rides Willy Wonka's chocolate rollercoaster. ;-)

    (BTW, wouldn't the found instances of Dumbledore's "love" post-outing be considered confirmation bias? *is still working on understanding the concept*)

    Love and spaghetti,
    SSotK
    • Mmmm ... spaghetti.

      It seems to me, in this whole ordeal, that people are reacting to two sets of character details.

      There are the usual tiny details (i.e., Ron is allergic to strawberries or Hermione's favorite color is green [both of which I just made up, btw]) that a writer might have in mind about her characters and that might shape how she writes her story, even if not ever overtly stated. For example, Ron turns down a strawberry milkshake and Hermione persists in wearing this one green sweater. And if asked, "Does Ron have any allergies?" or "What is Hermione's favorite color?" she can give definite answers.

      Then there are the details about OMG SUCH&SUCH CHARACTER IS GAY!!1!11one!!1! that have people either 1) making accusations that the author is just seeking attention or has political motivations and should stfu or 2) the author is craven for not revealing this particular detail in the books but after the fact when it doesn't really matter.

      Why? It's a tiny detail, just one aspect of what makes up the character of Dumbledore. It's been annoying to me to see how many people still regard a person's sexuality as the defining trait rather than just a trait.

      (BTW, wouldn't the found instances of Dumbledore's "love" post-outing be considered confirmation bias? *is still working on understanding the concept*)

      I'm going to say no simply because confirmation bias (as I understand it) refers to noticing instances in accordance with one's beliefs while unintentionally ignoring those not in accordance. Since we know Dumbledore's sexuality, it's less a belief than a fact.

      But to give an example along these lines, you might be familiar from my babbling with the fact that Maedhros and Fingon in The Silmarillion are thought to be gay lovers. Obviously, this is not a confirmed fact, but some fans do believe it and point to myriad pieces of evidence to back up their claims.

      For example, Maedhros mentioned Fingon alone when wanting to go back to retrieve some estranged family left behind; Fingon attempted the infamous rescue of Maedhros from Thangorodrim (when he was hung by one hand); and the two had a penchant for exchanging presents and forming allegiances. Also, Tolkien took away Fingon's wife in late revisions and made the enigmatic statement that "Maedhros ... did not appear to be wed" (emphasis mine).

      But people who tend to use these facts ignore the other canon details that point to the idea that first cousins would not have been gay lovers in Tolkien's world. So that, I think, is probably a better example of confirmation bias: finding evidence for something they want to believe and blithely ignoring the rest.

      Or me saying, "I get stuck behind a truck every day going to work on 175!" because I just don't notice the days when my commute goes smoothly; I'm thinking on other things. ("Every day" turned out to be more along the lines of 50% when I actually measured it, dork that I be. ;)
  • Agreed. Absolutely. To all of the above. :)

    Still, I also have to second Tarion in her opinion that Rowling's statement was rather pointless. I mean, it's not as if we are running around with a batch disclaiming our sexuality, right? I mean, actually what I want to say is that it shouldn't make a difference. And to me at least it doesn't.

    (But then, Rowling perhaps only felt as if she had a rebellious moment, and thus decided to go and piss off some homophobes. I can relate to that. :-P)

    And on a more general note, I find it quite strange that HP seems to piss off Christian fundies that badly... I mean, looking at the story it's all about virtues that might be called Christian. And those are the virtues that win. (Poor Jesus. What they do in the name of his religion...)

    • I totally agree that Rowling's announcement is "pointless" in the fact that it doesn't change how I feel about Dumbledore's character; it's just a detail about him, same as if she had revealed that he wears boxers, not briefs. ;)

      However, I don't agree with the idea that some people have been putting forth that Rowling made the reveal only for attention. She was, after all, answering questions from fans, not putting out press releases. Just as if she had been asked, "Does Dumbledore prefer boxers or briefs?" Like, "She is using a pointless fact to get special attention or leverage or smack fundies in the face."

      I don't think that is true, personally. I think she was just answering honestly a question about a detail that she'd always had about a character but was largely irrelevant to the books, and therefore not included.

      And on a more general note, I find it quite strange that HP seems to piss off Christian fundies that badly... I mean, looking at the story it's all about virtues that might be called Christian.

      Yes! Exactly! I mean, the story ends with Harry willing to make a sacrifice to save all of the world and, through that sacrifice, saving all of the world. Sounds kind of familiar ... *headscratch*

      If someone had thought to call it allegory, all the fundies would lap it up.
  • Re: Dumbledore's coming out a la Rowling - I'm going to be hideously lazy here and offer - What gandalf's apprentice said. I appreciate Rowling taking a prod to the bigots of the world.

    Similar to Rhapsy, I didn't make it past the first part of the fifth book, so I have no hippogriffs in the literary - canon or fan fictitious - race, but the furor (false association with pedophilia; wringing of hands over the fundagelicals' reactions) isn't surprising given the multitudes of the wilfully ignorant in this country.

    [Doc Bushwell rant]

    Far more disturbing to me than the brouhaha over Dumbledore were the troglodytes posting on the Chimp Refuge in response to our support of same sex marriage. KB took deadly (amd witty) aim at some slack-jawed cretins in his home state (New Hampshire). These Rush Limbaugh-Bill O'Reilly-Dinesh d'Souza bootlickers are the type who believe that homosexuality can be "cured." They responded to KB's salvo to the extent of bringing it to talk radio. I guess that's one way to get publicity.

    Even more insidious than the "Granite State Grokkers" were the fellows who broke their arms in self-congratulatory backslapping in their support of same-sex legal unions but not marriage. Only a man and a woman could marry according to the self-proclaimed "liberals." Ah, yes, the old "separate but equal" canard. Where have we heard that before? A massive string of comments ensued long after the original post was plastered on the Refuge.

    These attitudes that showed up like ugly toads in the microcosm of our blog reflect are reflected in the responses to Rowling's announcement. I'm not sure of what the impact of Dumbledore's sexual orientation had on my gay and lesbian friends back in Massachusetts who were among the first to get legally married - and are mothers and fathers of children who very likely have read HP. Knowing them and their kids, I expect they just shrugged their shoulders and moved on. But I do worry - a lot - about the impact of those troglodytes who commented on the Refuge. They vote and clamor for unconstitutional Constitutional amendments which would affect my friends and their families in a big way.

    [/Doc Bushwell rant]

    Hmmm, well, all that vitriol was my rambling way of saying "Great post and keep on keeping it real so our friends and loved ones can obtain equal rights."
    • I'm jumping the line in terms of comments because when I read your comment, I wanted to applaud. :)

      You've put nicely into words all the frustration and anger I feel as the family and friend of homosexuals who are unable to be treated like equal citizens in this country because of the misguided beliefs of a single group.

      And I think why I reacted so strongly to the response to many in the fandom to the Dumbledore Revelation is because (as Sharon says somewhere above this comment) the reaction in fandom as a single microcosm seems to reflect the reaction of our culture as a whole to similar news of "real life" people coming out.

      And like I told Oshun in a comment somewhere up there (this is getting convoluted ;), if it was just the known nutjobs making their usual stupid statements, then I would have taken it in stride.

      But I saw these statements being made by people whom I respect and count as friends. People who (I thought) supported gay rights.

      And this came as something of a slap in the face to me: like your liberals who can't abide with the idea that those durned homosekshules can marry like everyone else, it gave me an ugly look at the prejudices that continue to exist even in those who make a big show of being liberal, open-minded, and accepting of gay rights.

      I did my university internship with a social psychologist, so I certainly know that biases and prejudices rarely rear their ugly heads overtly but rather through subtler means. That in a liberal subculture like fandom, people are rarely going to label themselves as homophobic ... or even believe that they are homophobic. (Kind of like the people who aren't racist but lock their car doors when they see a black man coming down the street.) But I think a lot of people made a faux pas on this one and revealed their continuing discomfort with the idea of equal rights for gay people.

      I mean, come on. Maybe I don't provide the best perspective because I've approached pedophilia both academically and professionally, and I've seen it at work in my own family, so maybe I know more about it than the average schmoe, but what cretin still honestly believes that if a man is gay then that means that he wants every piece of manflesh to cross his path, including young boys? I thought we'd long moved past that little misconception. I see now how wrong I was in my assumption.
  • I find JK Rowling's post-series announcements about her characters vaugely annoying, because if the things she says are relevant to my perception of the characters then I think they should have been in the books. It wouldn't have been so difficult for her to include 'Dumbledore is gay' as part of the news story about him from book 7.

    Of course, I'm being terribly hypocritical about it because if I applied that principle consistently I wouldn't have read Tolkien's letters. Or Laws and Customs of the Eldar. My only defence is that Tolkien was intending to finsh writing the Silm and publish it, and much of that information (at least relating to the first age!) would probably have ended up in it.
    • As a Silmarillion fan/reader/author, I understand well that annoyance. I think it's natural to get a personal picture of a character in one's mind based on what is said about him/her in the books. And when details emerge (outside the books or in later books) that disrupt that, it's understandable to be annoyed.

      But I really do not agree with people who are saying that Rowling should stop making such reveals or that she is doing it only for attention.

      She was answering a question from a fan. She's not putting out press releases or posting crazy announcements on her website every few days. The conversation was started by someone else, and she gave an honest response.

      As a writer, I have myriad details about my characters that I'll never use, and if someone asks me a question where one of these details is the answer, I'd answer them truthfully, even if it messed up someone's personal interpretation of the canon to that point.

      I think she has every right to talk about her books and stories, and fans/fan authors have the right to pay attention to what she says or not, include it in their canon or not.
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