So. Dumbledore Is Gay.
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.
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.