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J.K. Rowling discusses the ‘sexual dimension’ of Dumbledore and Grindelwald
Quick question: Would J.K. Rowling talk about a straight relationship like this?
Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald comes out on Blu-ray soon, and you know what that means: It’s time for J.K. Rowling to share some opinions about her creation. In particular, the Blu-ray includes some choice comments about that ever-popular topic, Dumbledore’s sexuality.
According to the Radio Times, Rowling weighs in on the “sexual dimension” of Dumbledore and Grindelwald’s relationship. Here’s a direct quote from the film’s special features:
“Their relationship was incredibly intense. It was passionate, and it was a love relationship. But as happens in any relationship, gay or straight or whatever label we want to put on it, one never knows really what the other person is feeling. You can’t know, you can believe you know.
So I’m less interested in the sexual side—though I believe there is a sexual dimension to this relationship—than I am in the sense of the emotions they felt for each other, which ultimately is the most fascinating thing about all human relationships.”
Like every Rowling quote, this will face meticulous analysis from fans. On the one hand, she may literally just mean that Dumbledore and Grindelwald didn’t have sex, which is absolutely plausible considering the circumstances of their story. On the other hand, it’s not unusual for straight storytellers to get squeamish about queer relationships, implicitly characterizing them as more adult-rated than a straight relationship.
Think about it: There’s no way Rowling would bother to say she’s “not interested in the sexual side” of love stories like Lupin and Tonks, or Ron and Hermione. No one is expecting sex to come up in a kid-friendly franchise like Fantastic Beasts—the real question is whether upcoming films will explicitly portray Dumbledore as a gay man. People are invested in this idea because it’s rare to see queer characters in mainstream blockbusters, and Rowling has drawn a lot of attention to Dumbledore’s sexuality without actually exploring it in the text of the movies.
Until the films make it clear that Dumbledore is gay, Rowling’s statements will be seen as queerbaiting. She likes to appeal to progressive fans by saying a beloved character is gay, but in the actual text of the movies, Dumbledore’s sexuality is only hinted at in subtext.
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H/T Radio Times
Gavia Baker-Whitelaw is a staff writer at the Daily Dot, covering geek culture and fandom. Specializing in sci-fi movies and superheroes, she also appears as a film and TV critic on BBC radio. Elsewhere, she co-hosts the pop culture podcast Overinvested. Follow her on Twitter: @Hello_Tailor