When I first heard (somewhere on the road in Kansas as I journeyed cross country) that the headmaster of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry (for the better part of the first six books of the Harry Potter series) was gay, it just made sense. As I wrote at that time:
When I heard the news, it just made sense. There was something in the wise wizard’s manner which suggested a certain gay sensibility, but also a sense that he had somehow sublimated its sexual aspect.
As a young wizard, Albus Dumbledore had fallen for Gellert Grindelwald, his equally precocious colleague from the Durmstrang Institute, but forsook that then-fair young man, largely because of his beloved’s increasing fascination with the dark arts.
I can’t quite put my finger on it (and hope to be able to provide a few examples should I re-read the series), but as I noted previously, there was something in the wizard’s manner which suggested that he was gay, perhaps it was the avuncular tenderness he showed to Harry. Or maybe he just had a more gentle disposition than do most men, a gentleness which he manifested in a number of contexts, but particularly in his relationships with other men.
It was also a gentleness, devoid of sexual obsession*. He may have been more drawn to Harry (and other male pupils) because of their gender, but he did not see them as objects of sexual conquest. Perhaps, it’s because after turning away from Grindelwald, he had somehow sublimated his sexual longings. He had found that deeper connection and could not conceive of sexuality without such a bond.
Or perhaps it’s all just because Dumbledore’s experience seemed to parallel that of the wizards in my fantasy realm, a world I hope to reveal to others if I find myself ready to write the “epic” which has been kicking around in my head for about five years. I have a strange sense that the Harry Potter books somehow influenced my writing. When I read the first book, it struck me as odd to find a world with so many wizards. In most fantasy realms (as well as medieval legends), there are only a handful. (In Tolkien’s Middle-earth, there are only five, with two having disappeared not long after their arrival from the Undying Lands.)
In mine, there are only four alive at the time my story takes place, with one imprisoned and a second having lost his human form because he abused his power of transformation. In my realm, each wizard gains his wisdom, in large part, after losing his beloved. For you see, these wizards because of their semi-divine origin have extraordinary long life and also have a great capacity for love, but living in the mortal world, they fall for those around them.
The luckier ones fall for elves who while not immortal (unlike Tolkien’s elves), do live longer than the humans whose forms they take. But, as their beloved will die during their life times, they all must learn to live without the individual for whom they have the strongest, most passionate and most tender of feelings.
And yes, there is a wizard in my epic who does fall for another man.
Maybe it’s just the similarity between Dumbedore’s story and that of my wizards which engendered these thoughts. But, I want to offer one final thought. In Casablanca, Humphrey Bogart‘s Rick finds his own redemption (in a manner of speaking) when he realizes he must forsake the love of his life for a cause greater than both of them. In that way, Albus Dumbledore has much in common with one of the great characters of the silver screen. It seems then that part of wisdom is understanding that while there is truth in romance, romance is not the ultimate truth.
– B. Daniel Blatt (GayPatriotWest@aol.com)
*Not sure this is the right word.
ADDENDUM: And while you’re pondering Albus Dumbledore’s sexuality, take a gander at Pink Elephant‘s post on the topic. That blogger is a “little put off by the current fashion of including a stock gay character for whom sexuality just comes up constantly.” Read the whole thing so as to better understand his point.