Politics of Harry Potter - Progressive Values and Diversity

Progressive Values and Diversity

Time magazine said in 2005, "Rowling adapts an inherently conservative genre for her own progressive purposes. Her Hogwarts is secular and sexual and multicultural and multiracial and even sort of multimedia, with all those talking ghosts." To mark the French publication of Deathly Hallows, prominent French center-left paper Liberation devoted the front cover and two more pages to answering the question "Why Harry Potter is of the Left".

In 2007, responding to a question from a child about Dumbledore's love life, Rowling revealed, "I always saw Dumbledore as gay." Filling in a few more details, she said, "Dumbledore fell in love with Grindelwald.... Don't forget, falling in love can blind us. was very drawn to this brilliant person. This was Dumbledore's tragedy."

Melissa Anelli, webmaster of the fan site The Leaky Cauldron, told The Associated Press, "Jo Rowling calling any Harry Potter character gay would make wonderful strides in tolerance toward homosexuality.... By dubbing someone so respected, so talented and so kind, as someone who just happens to be also homosexual, she's reinforcing the idea that a person's gayness is not something of which they should be ashamed." Of the ensuing controversy, Rowling said, "I know that it was a positive thing that I said it, for at least one person, because one man 'came out' at Carnegie Hall." Entertainment Weekly's Mark Harris said "her choice to make a beloved professor-mentor gay in a world where gay teachers are still routinely slandered as malign influences was, I am certain, no accident." Harris also says that there is a drastic underrepresentation of gays in the population, and it is a failure of decency and nerve on the entertainment industry— "including the tremendous number of gay producers, writers, and executives who sacrifice their convictions so they don't look too strident or political."

According to Think Progress, a progressive news site, conservative blogs say Rowling's revelation about Dumbledore vindicates Jerry Falwell's attacks on homosexuality in children's media that were lambasted by the mass media. "What's stopping her from saying that Neville grows up to be a paedophile?" said David Baggett, an associate philosophy professor at Falwell's Liberty University's School of Religion. Baggett, who coauthored the book Harry Potter and Philosophy: If Aristotle Ran Hogwarts, says he was taken aback not only by Rowling's announcement, but by the fact that it came on the heels of her confirming many Potter fans' belief that the series had Christian themes.

Slate Magazine quotes an attendee of the book talk who said, "It was clear that JKR didn't plan to out Dumbledore. She just cares about being true to her readers." Mike Thomas of the Orlando Sentinal said that upon reflection, Dumbledore was gay from the beginning, and that this neatly explains the behaviour of his character and his relationship with Grindelwald. Thomas notes the skill Rowling displays in writing a gay character without having to put a gay label on him.

According to Reuters, Rowling was surprised over the fuss and declined to say whether her "outing" of Dumbledore might alienate those who disapprove of homosexuality. "It has certainly never been news to me that a brave and brilliant man could love other men. He is my character. He is what he is and I have the right to say what I say about him," she said. Reaction has been mainly supportive on fans' Web sites, such as The Leaky Cauldron and MuggleNet.

Actor David Thewlis (Remus Lupin) said that he was surprised about Dumbledore's sexuality, because while he was filming Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban director Alfonso Cuarón had the idea that "Lupin was gay, and he described my character like a 'gay junkie'."

Catholic fantasy author Regina Doman wrote an essay titled "In Defense of Dumbledore", in which she argued that the books actually support Catholic teaching on homosexuality because Dumbledore's relationship with the dark wizard Grindelwald leads to obviously terrible results, as he becomes interested in dark magic himself, neglects his responsibilities towards his younger sister and ultimately causes her death.

The South Florida Sun-Sentinel's book reviewer Chauncey Mabe says that it was wrong for Rowling to disclose Dumbledore's sexual orientation. Mabe was clear that this was not due to Dumbledore's being gay, but to his own objections to authors continuing to talk about their books after they are written. He called for Rowling to "please be quiet, please" in "public gatherings", which is contrary to the massive popularity of Rowling's book talks and her fans' thirst for more information about characters in the Harry Potter books. Mabe notes that 1,000 children attended the "reading" before they were given autographed books. Robin Berkowitz, Sun-Sentinel Entertainment Editor says of Rowlings comments, and other revelations she might make about her characters "We don't need to know any of them to appreciate the books fully," "Don't ask, don't spell" a reference to the U.S. military's former policy on homosexuality, Don't ask, don't tell. These sentiments are mirrored by Jeffrey Weiss in his article, "Harry Potter and the author who wouldn't shut up", published in the Dallas Morning News.

The Washington Post's Michael Gerson says "tolerance is one of the main themes of the Harry Potter books. In a marvelous social comparison, lycanthropy is treated as a kind of chronic disease, with werewolves subject to discrimination as if they had AIDS."

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