J.K. Rowling stunned her fans at Carnegie Hall on Friday night when she answered one young reader's question about Dumbledore by saying that he was gay and had been in love with Grindelwald, whom he had defeated years ago in a bitter fight. Upon further reflection, the idea that the headmaster of a boarding school for exceptional children turned out to be gay isn't really much of a head-scratcher at all. If anything, it makes complete sense. Ms. Rowling has already acknowledged that there are those on the Christian right who have already had objections to her fantasy world of wizards and witchcraft, and now those are probably the same people who will continue to object to having a gay character in a children's book. I'm sure Larry Craig won't be anxiously awaiting the paperback release of "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows."
But maybe he should. I can remember having friends of mine sneering at me in eighth grade (since that was when such things became most important) that my musical hero, Elton John, was gay. Only that's not what they said, exactly. They were much more severe in their epithets because they were so much more afraid. Oddly enough, these same friends were much more oblivious or forgiving when it came to Freddie Mercury. Maybe they felt that Fred rocked hard enough that his sexuality wasn't an impediment, but the name of group was Queen, after all. Maybe that was too subtle?
Albus Dumbledore was a kind and gentle soul, loved and respected by those who studied at Hogwarts and beyond. He was a man who lived past his painful youth to provide guidance and stability to a group of students who needed just that. It is an interesting thing to watch fans of Harry Potter attempt to reckon with this revelation. I suppose finding out something like this when one's own sexuality is still unfolding makes it a potential threat - or maybe just the most polite form of reassurance.