Wednesday, July 4, 2012

The Rights of Dumbledore

Ever since, about 6 years ago, when J K Rowling informed the world about the true nature of Dumbledore, I've had problems with his homosexuality. He's not gay. For me, he's simply not gay.

On a tangential conversation about Gay Pride with my housemate last night, we ended up heatedly discussing Dumbledore.

My argument goes: "I never got that from the character any of the times I read any of the books."

His argument goes: "But he must be, his creator wrote him that way."

And we reach a stalemate. There's not much further you can take an argument when all the evidence has been laid out and sequenced and both sides still believe their arguments are right.

For me Dumbledore's sexuality was not part of the story, and it never will be. But then, the stories began when I was still a child and were finished at the beginning of my adulthood when J K Rowling announced it. I read them in my formative years. Trying to surplant this new information would, for me, be akin to discussing the sexual politics of the Famous Five.

But what about all those people who hadn't reached the end? Did the world of Harry Potter become a richer place for them?

Yes! I'd say it did. All information makes the world of a story a richer place. It's all about internal and external context, as they'll tell you on any literature course.

Whatever my petty problems with Harry Potter characters may be, I have to give it to J K Rowling, it was a brave thing to retrospectively add something that could so radically change people's views. Dumbledore is argueably one of the most loved characters in popular fiction.

Whether or not people read his sexuality into the books, she has put a homosexual role model out into the world for all those people who have little or no contact with open homosexuals. And to top that, she has given the world a gay role model whose sexuality is irrelevant.

Intentional or not, I think that's a commendable thing to do in a world where homophobia is still a norm, and governing powers still submit to those irrational beliefs.

On the 29th of February this year St. Petersburg passed a law to prevent "public actions directed at the propaganda of sodomy, lesbianism, bisexuality and transgenderism among minors". On Friday, just 1 day before World Pride here in London, the Ukranian government is going to vote on legislature that will ban public discussion and publication of information about homosexuality and bisexuality.

LGBT communities are quite lucky in the UK that homophobia is generally frowned upon. That's not to say that homophobia is dead... far from it. But increasingly, homosexuality is becoming viewed as something unremarkable. It's a view that permits Gay Pride in London to be a celebration more than a protest; which is a marvellous thing when you consider that Slovakia's 2nd Pride and Bulagria's 1st Pride were only this year, and subject to counter marches and violent behaviour from extreme right-wing groups.

This Saturday is World Pride here in London, and I think this liberty is something worth celebrating with the world, if not for sexuality, then for the freedom of speech.

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