On Wednesday, “Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald” director David Yates revealed that the upcoming sequel to “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them” (2016) would mostly avoid the issue of Albus Dumbledore’s sexuality. Leftists on Twitter did not take the news well.
Over ten years ago, Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling announced that the beloved character was homosexual — to a very mixed reaction. The Harry Potter books and movies may have done well at least in part because Rowling did not explicitly reveal Dumbledore’s sexuality. Forthcoming feature films might be wise to repeat that.
When asked if this film will reference Dumbledore’s sexuality, Yates told Entertainment Weekly, “not exactly.” The director added, “But I think all the fans are aware of that. He had a very intense relationship with Grindelwald when they were young men. They fell in love with each other’s ideas, and ideology and each other.”
Yates explained that Dumbledore’s other important characteristics will emerge in the film, even though his sexuality will not. “He’s a maverick and a rebel and he’s an inspiring teacher at Hogwarts,” the director said. “He’s witty and has a bit of edge. He’s not this elder statesman. He’s a really kinetic guy. And opposite Johnny Depp as Grindelwald, they make an incredible pairing.”
Yates did tease a later reveal of Dumbledore’s sexuality in a later film, however.
This dynamic sounds promising, and should remind Harry Potter fans of why they liked Dumbledore in the first place — his depth of understanding and his firm dedication to right and wrong in the face of evil. While fans mostly know an older Dumbledore, this younger version sounds in keeping with the original character.
Even so, leftists on Twitter weren’t having it.
“If you’re not going to make Young Dumbledore’s sexuality explicitly clear in Fantastic Beasts then why even bother with this film at all tbh?” asked Jill Pantozzi, managing editor at Io9.
If you're not going to make Young Dumbledore's sexuality explicitly clear in Fantastic Beasts then why even bother with this film at all tbh?
— Jill Pantozzi (@JillPantozzi) January 31, 2018
Some suggested that the year meant that Dumbledore’s sexuality should be explicit. “‘Not explicitly,’ Yates replied when asked if the film makes it clear that Dumbledore is gay. ‘But I think all the fans are aware of that.’ IT’S 2018 LMAO GET IT TOGETHER,” tweeted literary agent Connor Goldsmith.
Later, he seemed to (perhaps jokingly) expand his call to “full erotic dumbledore.” He later quoted CNN quoting his first tweet, explaining he was “talking about Dumbledore’s insatiable lust for Grindelc**k.”
Some suggested people should ignore the “Fantastic Beasts” franchise completely. “Listen, we all knew it was time to let go of
#FantasticBeasts when they doubled down on Depp — that Yates confirmed they’re going to sidestep Dumbledore being gay in the film means JK and her team have f**ked up huge and it’s time to ignore this franchise completely. Let it die,” Alicia Lutes, managing editor of Nerdist, chimed in. (Johnny Depp, the actor who plays Grindelwald, was accused of sexual violence by his ex-wife, Amber Heard.)
Vox’s Aja Romano noted an important distinction: “JKR explicitly *said* Dumbledore falls in love with Grindelwald *before* he figures out that Grindelwald is a genocidal evil Nazi, which means if Dumbledore’s not explicitly in love with him in the next movie it’s gonna be seriously WTF.” “The Crimes of Grindelwald” focuses on a period after the alleged romantic relationship between Dumbledore and Grindelwald, so it might not be surprising for the movie to downplay this part.
A) JKR explicitly *said* Dumbledore falls in love with Grindelwald *before* he figures out that Grindelwald is a genocidal evil Nazi, which means if Dumbledore's not explicitly in love with him in the next movie it's gonna be seriously WTF.
— Aja Romano (@ajaromano) January 31, 2018
However, in “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows,” Rowling never revealed that the relationship was sexual — Dumbledore and Grindelwald connected over ideas and shared magical interests. Only after the book was released did Rowling add the sexual element. The relationship arguably does not need to be sexual.
Even so, Romano argued that the relationship does need to be sexual so as to normalize homosexuality. “These actors are OLD. Jude Law is 45 and Johnny Depp is 54. What kind of message is it sending to kids if this hugely influential franchise has middle-aged Dumbledore still being tentative about his sexuality — or is still skirting around/hinting about an adult man’s sex life?” the woman tweeted.
B) these actors are OLD. Jude Law is 45 and Johnny Depp is 54. What kind of message is it sending to kids if this hugely influential franchise has middle-aged Dumbledore still being tentative about his sexuality — or is still skirting around/hinting about an adult man's sex life?
— Aja Romano (@ajaromano) January 31, 2018
Perhaps the film (arguably rightly) will focus on the story, more than the homosexual agenda.
These Twitter responses seem only a small part of the discussion, however. J.K. Rowling herself tweeted that people had been sending her “abuse” over the issue.
“Being sent abuse about an interview that didn’t involve me, about a screenplay I wrote but which none of the angry people have read, which is part of a five-movie series that’s only one instalment in, is obviously tons of fun, but you know what’s even *more* fun?” Rowling quipped, bitterly.
Being sent abuse about an interview that didn't involve me, about a screenplay I wrote but which none of the angry people have read, which is part of a five-movie series that's only one instalment in, is obviously tons of fun, but you know what's even *more* fun? pic.twitter.com/Rj6Zr8aKUk
— J.K. Rowling (@jk_rowling) January 31, 2018
Naturally, some continued to attack Rowling after this message. “And on top of that now Dumbledore won’t be ‘explicitly gay’ and Rowling is mocking queer people who just wanted a bit of representation. yikes. it’s like they want us to despise Fantastic Beasts,” tweeted transgender activist Riley Dennis.
and on top of that now Dumbledore won't be "explicitly gay" and Rowling is mocking queer people who just wanted a bit of representation. yikes.
it's like they want us to despise Fantastic Beasts 🚮 pic.twitter.com/cUO99SSTyN
— Riley J. Dennis (@RileyJayDennis) February 1, 2018
The fact that Social Justice Warriors would diminish Rowling’s own complaints about essentially being attacked over a project she wasn’t involved in speaks volumes. Apparently defending yourself now constitutes “mocking queer people.”
Perhaps Vanity Fair film critic Richard Lawson put it best: “DUMBLEDORE: I don’t like labels, Minerva.”
DUMBLEDORE: I don't like labels, Minerva.
— Richard Lawson (@rilaws) January 31, 2018
Not all Harry Potter fans are pro-LGBT, and not everyone welcomed Rowling’s 2007 pronouncement after the fact that Dumbledore was gay. When the news broke, New York Times columnist Edward Rothstein quipped, “Ms. Rowling may think of Dumbledore as gay, there is no reason why anyone else should.” Some suggested Rowling was seeking publicity, and others argued that Rowling’s statements after the fact were irrelevant to the meaning of the books.
Not everyone in 2018 wants a gay Dumbledore, but it seems some people are so insistent to have one, they are willing to deride the original author’s self-defense in the name of “queer representation.”