ep-226

Episode 226: LGBTQIA+ In Potter – Beauty In Difference

When J. K. Rowling “outed” Dumbledore, it sent shock waves around the world. Now, ten years since that revelation, we explore how far the Harry Potter series has come, and how far it still has to go. Join Beth, Elayna and Michael, along with guest Shanna, as they open the closet (under the stairs) for an examination of LGBTQIA+ in Potter.

On Episode 226 we discuss…

→ LGBTQIA: Now you know your ABCs
→ Sexuality in the wizarding world
→ Dumbledore seen and unseen
→ Fantastic Gays and Where to Find Them
→ Queerness in fandom
→ “Play him like a gay junkie.”
→ The possibilities of Polyjuice Potion
Protect Charlie Weasley at All Costs
→ Is Cursed Child combating Toxic Masculinity or Queerbaiting?
Join us in Diagon Alley on September 1st!

To listen to the show, simply click the player below or direct download the episode. You can also subscribe to us on iTunes. For more information about the podcast and to find out how to be on the show, check out our Be On The Show! page.

Skype users can send us a message to username AlohomoraMN. And as always, be sure to continue the discussion below!

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RECAP: EPISODE 225

On this recap we discuss…

→ Directionally challenged
→ Marauders Map OS update
→ Don’t underestimate Sirius Black
→ The will of James and Lily
→ Sirius is coming to dinner

Listen Now: | Download

  • Huffleclaw

    I have to disagree that Rowling did not provide a platform for people to see themselves in the books by not revealing Dumbledore is gay within the text.I think the points that:
    1. The time period she was writing did not really allow her to be explicit with it. 2. As Michael said it just did not fit are spot on.
    I would like to add that as a gay teenager back when reading the books for the first time I did not need an explicit mention to find myself in the books. At the time, I deeply related to Lupin. Not because I ever thought him gay, but I understood how he felt and emphasized with the character. Growing up in the south in the late 90’s and early 2000’s I knew what it was to be ruled by fear of being ostracized and then dealing with that ostracism. Every time I reread “Cat, Rat and Dog” in Prisoner of Azkaban and Ron hisses at Lupin “Get away from me, werewolf,” I still have a visceral reaction because of what that meant to me at the time. I relate it to around the time I came out and lost friends because of it. So before Rowling said Lupin’s lycanthropy was analogous to disease like AIDs I read it as a personal gay analogy and my own experiences.
    Further, I’m skeptical of explicit comments on sexuality in text. I think it can be handled well, but I’ve yet to see anyone handle it well without going overboard. I’m also a fan of Rick Riordan’s mythology series’s and I loved it when he outed one of my favorite characters from the original Percy Jackson series (Nico D’Angelo) during the sequel series Heroes of Olympus. Since then however he’s gone a little overboard with gay and transgender characters. He handled the Nico’s sexuality and a relationship so well but then as he added more gay/bi/and transgender characters it’s gotten to the point where he has to say “Hey, remember he’s bi!” to the point that he’s made it offensive.
    So in closing I’m actually glad at the way Rowling handled Dumbledore and other characters. I feel that if you add a gay/bi/lesbian, ect. ect. character just to add them it can get overdone very easily.

    • Lisa

      I never understood the argument that she couldn’t reveal DD’s gayness or that it wasn’t relevant to the story. His infatuation for Grindelwald is a huge part of his character and provides at least part of an explanation for why he refused to go against the man for so many years. Telling us this explicitly in the books would not have been going overboard in the matter of representation, IMO. It’s just explaining a character’s motivation. Why was it reasonable for her to show us beyond any doubt that Snape had romantic feelings for Lily, and Bellatrix for Voldemort but not that Dumbledore had feelings for Grindelwald? These three characters are all partly motivated by their infatuation but only in the heterosexual cases is this shown explicitly.

      • Huffleclaw

        Don’t get me wrong, if she did give the subject some coverage I would have been fine with it. I don’t think she would have done it distastefully like Riordan has but I’m completely fine with it not being mention, either.
        I see the argument that it could have been added to explain the reason that Dumbledore waited so long to act, but as I’ve always read it as an analogy to Neville Chamberlain and Britain’s inaction leading up to World War II I’ve never needed it. When I read the books I honestly don’t consider Grindelwald until Deathly Hallows so it is never been something that needed addressing for me.
        I feel that Snape and his feelings for Lily is different because the whole story turns on his decisions in regards to telling Voldemort the prophecy and then turning to Dumbledore to save her. Unlike Dumbledore and Grindelwald that is a crucial part of the story.
        I might be the only one but I’ve never read that Bellatrix is in love with Voldemort. The only time I’ve even processed that is during the Pottercast episode that is quoted while discussing Dumbledore. Even then, Rowling merely states that she told Helena Bonham Carter that she saw Bellatrix as infatuated with Voldemort. To me, I still can’t read that in the text. I cannot think of a single passage in which it is even hinted at in the books. Honestly, I just don’t see that bit of information as canon, so it is a mute point.

        • Lisa

          Yes, of course Dumbledore also had other reasons and it’s not like the story doesn’t make sense if we don’t know that he was in love with GG. But then again, why not mention it? It’s not super duper necessary but neither is Bill’s romance with Fleur, or Ron’s crush on Rosmerta or plenty of other stuff we find out about the characters.

          Bellatrix’s feelings for Voldemort are not exactly ambiguous. They’re as clear as can be. You don’t speak to someone “as if to a lover” or “lean in for closeness” if you don’t like them that way. Rowling mentioned it not only during the Pottercast interview but also stated that Bella’s love for Voldy was the reason she contrasted her with Molly.

          So I come back to my original point: Snape, Bella, Dumbledore are all partly motivated by love. In Bella’s case just like in Dumbledore’s case it wasn’t entirely necessary for us to know that there’s romance involved. But JKR chose to show it to us explicitly in one case, where it was heterosexual, and implicitly in the homosexual case. Maybe she was afraid of the repercussions but honestly that just makes it seem like she’s pandering to bigots so it’s not a good thing either way.

          • Huffleclaw

            I still view Bellatrix as loving power, not Voldemort. But that’s an unrelated tangent that we best not go down.
            I think that your primary point is addressed in my original post and in the episode itself. Given the time she was writing the original story, outing Dumbledore did create a financial risk. Even doing it after the last book was published was risky. We can argue whether or not that is the right choice to leave it out, but it is one I do not blame her for. Let’s see how Fantastic Beasts is handled before we claim that Rowling is pandering to bigots.
            Ultimately I stand by my original assessment. It’s like all the information on wand woods from Pottermore. It is great to have, but it does not change how I understand the story – Harry’s story – or read it subsequently.

          • Lisa

            Well I never said the entire series crashes and burns if Dumbledore’s sexuality is left out. My point was that it wasn’t entirely irrelevant and also that she’s revealed more irrelevant things about other characters (Aberforth and the goat? seriously?). So I guess what I’m saying is — why not mention it? If the financial risk argument applies then so does my rather crass statement about her pandering to bigots. I see no way around it. I certainly hope that FB will feature a gay Dumbledore as there really are no more reasons (excuses?) for her to hide it now.

          • Huffleclaw

            It is relevant, yes I agree with that 100%. But there are relevant plots in the series that don’t make it onto the page, like Dean’s back story. I don’t necessarily think it is a point that naturally fit into the books, more so than the financial argument – though I do think that is relevant, too.
            Before Dumbledore’s death it would have been against his character. As much as he holds back from Harry he would reveal that? I don’t see it. Rita Skeeter likely just reported the friendship with Grindelwald because that’s all Bathilda Bagshot knew. An infatuation would not necessarily be noticeable to anyone but Aberforth and I doubt he talked to Rita Skeeter about Albus. .
            I know some people mention King’s Cross but that’s more of a chapter for Harry (and the reader) to fill in the blanks and ask questions to debrief for the final battle. Plus, depending on how one reads it it is either the spirit of Dumbledore or Harry’s brain making sense of the trauma it experienced. One excludes any new information from forming. The other is still the intensely private Dumbledore. I could see that Dumbledore saying something like “I hope Gellert found peace, we grew quiet close you know. I hope he found peace because the alternative is what you see before you. (Indicates Voldebaby)” Either way I just don’t see Dumbledore coming out to Harry, even in King’s Cross.

      • Minerva the Flufflepuff

        I always thought that the perfect place to reveal Dumbledore’s infatuation with Grindelwald would be the King’s Cross scene in Deathly Hallows. Rowling could have changed just a few lines when Dumbledore tells Harry about how he got close to Grindelwald.

        • DoraNympha

          Do you know what also? There was the line about that raven-haired woman in his youth that was in the original HBP script, which prompted Jo to slip over a piece of paper across the table to David Heyman that said Dumbledore’s gay. So they scratched the line.
          But… here’s the thing…
          Why not change the line, rather than drop it altogether? -.-‘

        • RavenPuff

          While I agree, the revelation doesn’t really go with his character. In a way he is still hiding from that relationship because of the pain. He seems to want to close of that part of himself. I’ve had friends betray (obviously not this epically) and have had a very hard time letting people with similar personalities or letting others into the same spot, because of the fear that it would happen again.

          Also, DD has a hard time releasing any personal information to harry through out the series. Most of what harry knows of him is from what he’s found of others.

          • Slughorn’s Trophy Wife

            I don’t think he’s hiding anymore in King’s Cross, seeing as he’s dead.

          • RavenPuff

            Why would his personality change because of death? This and other painful events shaped his secretive personality and I don’t see that dying would alter those memories.

          • Slughorn’s Trophy Wife

            Dumbledore laid it all out in King’s Cross – telling Harry things he’d never told him before about his past and Grindelwald. He wasn’t being secretive about anything any longer. So it makes no sense to me to be secretive about his feelings towards Grindelwald when he’s spilling the beans about everything else, including the possibility that he killed his own sister. If there were something still too painful to share, it would have been that.

          • RavenPuff

            I will have to reread the conversation.

      • DoraNympha

        She could have, only the books wouldn’t have been sold to absolutely anyone. The first books came out while Section 28 was still a thing, which means that you couldn’t have sold them to kids. But what adult would have bought the then unknown books by an unknown author in a time when children’s lit wasn’t particularly popular?

        But yes, Dumbledore’s past with whatever was between him and Gellert MATTERS. A. LOT. to his character.

        • Lisa

          I have no idea what section 28 is but JKR certainly wasn’t an unknown author in 2007, by the time DH came out. Plenty of people who had read the series up to that point would have read the books to know how the story ends.

          • DoraNympha

            Sure, by the time the series was ending, by which time Section 28, a UK-wide ban on “promoting homosexuality” in children’s spaces was no longer in effect, but she would A) already have plotted the entire story years beforehand, and B) we don’t know what contracts she had to abide by, and C) 2007 was VERY different. Do you mind me asking how old you are? Just because it might be deceptive to think about “only” ten years ago for younger people, not that I’m old, I’m only 26, but I feel downright war-battered by having witnessed the changes of the past 10-15 years. 2007 was a very different time indeed. JKR could have pioneered some change within the text but I remember how huge it was when she so much as mentioned it in a Q&A. It was a big deal, it was loud and a lot of people showed their true colours often not in a pleasant way.

          • Lisa

            I’m 27 and yes of course the 2007 audience was very different from the one today. However, like I said in response to another post, not revealing DD’s sexuality because she’s afraid of reactions (and possibly damages to book sales) is at best cowardly and at worst pandering. There’s nothing for me to respect or sympathize with there. She damages the character in a way, too, because by not revealing his sexuality in the books she opens up for suspicion about whether it was part of the plan at all from the beginning or just a publicity stunt. Michael Gambon said in an interview about gay!Dumbledore “she’d just decided it that day!” I’m not saying he’s right or an expert on her creative process but there’s still the possibility that he IS right because, once again, it wasn’t in the books. So we just don’t know either way. It bothers many readers that she’s trying to score points for tolerance and progressiveness yet doesn’t have the guts to put it in writing.

            EDIT: And you know what? Come to think of it, why aren’t all the homophobic or misogynistic writers out there afraid of putting their exact thoughts into their books because they might alienate part of their audience? They just don’t care! Yet progressive writers tiptoe because god forbid they offend the ultra-conservatives.

          • DoraNympha

            They just don’t care, exactly. Although, even though I’m quite demanding after all the crap I’ve taken myself, I’m not quite as unforgiving towards Rowling here. I mean Deathly Hallows – every lacking thing later, however, she has no excuse for and I hope it’s not entitled to say so. I’m just tired and it’s actually exciting that fiction writers and screenwriters are running out of excuses.

            Sidenote: Gambon, man, he didn’t read the books lol.

          • FatOldFart

            It is a safe and risk free environment for her now. She already has more money than she knows what to do with. Ellen is the true hero for the cause.

          • HelgaH

            To be fair, the HP books are Harry’s story. What we’re reading is Harry’s understanding of how the world works. We’re reading Harry’s comprehension of the character’s lives. Harry is a self centered kid – regardless of how much the hero he plays – and all of the relationships shown in the books center around how they affect Harry.

            If we were reading Dumbledore’s story, Rowling would have a different responsibility to the reader in how explicitly she describes his sexuality and how it impacted his life and decisions he made. It seems that Fantastic Beasts will touch on this. If she doesn’t do it right there, that would be a reason to be angry with her writing.

            I don’t recall Rowling stating anywhere that not revealing Dumbledore’s sexualtiy was because of fear of reactions. If she did, please post the source.

            As it’s Harry’s story, the reason we learn there was anything with Dumbledore and Grindelwald at all, was because an adult character wrote about it in a book. Harry didn’t need information about Dumbledore’s sexuality to solve the puzzle, but he did need to know there was a relationship. Remember, we’re reading what Harry needed to know to get the job done.

            I honestly don’t think Rowling understood how much it would have meant to gay readers to have an explicitly gay relationship included in the story. I was impressed that she had the Dumbledore/Grindelwald unrequited love plot in her mind from the beginning. For me, it was the perfect thing to explain Dumbledore as a person and why he was a lonely isolated untrusting adult.

          • Lisa

            I don’t really get the arguments about how it was Harry’s POV. Yes, the story is told from his perspective. That doesn’t stop the reader finding out all sorts of unnecessary information about other characters who aren’t Harry. JKR even leaves his point of view when telling us about the events at Spinner’s End for example. So the fact that we’re seeing everything through Harry’s eyes wouldn’t have stopped Dumbledore from revealing his feelings for Grindelwald in King’s Cross.

            I never said that she didn’t reveal it because she was afraid of reactions. That was an argument other people have put forward to explain this. I was just saying that IF she did it for fear of reactions then that isn’t a positive thing. And another thing- how do we even know she had it in her mind from the beginning? Michael Gambon implied she hadn’t and for all we know this big reveal could have been a publicity stunt or a genuine attempt to make the books more progressive post-publication. I’m not saying any of those scenarios are likely but the point is we just don’t know as she chose to not reveal Dumbledore’s sexuality in canon.

          • HelgaH

            I didn’t say it was Harry’s POV. I said it was Harry’s story. Harry admits he knows nothing about Dumbledore’s personal life. Because he’s a student. And a student that Dumbledore keeps at arm’s length. Their conversations are one sided. Harry learning about himself, Dumbledore controlling the information.

            King’s Cross exists to show that Harry has a choice in whether to keep fighting or give up, not to be told about his headmaster and mentor’s sexuality.

            I believe she had the Arianna story planned from the beginning. Why else even mention Grindelwald in book 1 if not to reveal his purpose in book 7. The fact that Dumbledore was powerful enough to defeat a previous dark wizard turns out to be important, but it isn’t until we learn about the relationship that we learn why it was so important. His love for Arianna and the betrayal by Grindelwald weighed on every decision Dumbledore made for the rest of his life. As they say, love is blind and to me it was VERY clear that Dumbledore’s love for Grindelwald blinded him to what kind of person he really was. This wasn’t a love between friends, it was clearly deeper than that.

            PS. Gambon is not a reliable source. He only knew the lines in his script. He didn’t read HP prior to or during filming.

          • Lisa

            He didn’t need to be told about Dumbledore’s sexuality, but he could have found out about Dumbledore’s true feelings for Grindelwald. King’s Cross was the best place to mention it. It fit into the story in a natural way without looking like a big “coming out” from Albus. The point is that JKR would have never left a heterosexual relationship be implied like that. If GG had been a woman you can be sure she would have written Dumbledore telling us outright that he had feelings for her. After all, Snape/Lily was definitely spelled out. She didn’t leave that to be just a deep friendship even though a deep friendship could have also been enough to motivate Snape to switch sides, just like it motivated Albus to not go after Grindelwald for a long time.

            I’m sure she had the part about Ariana and Dumbledore’s childhood planned out since the beginning. However, that doesn’t mean she planned from the beginning for Dumbledore to have romantic feelings for Grindelwald. And it’s no problem that it wasn’t planned from the beginning (if indeed it wasn’t). Authors are allowed to change their minds. But because she didn’t mention it in canon it opens up for suspicions that she’s doing it for publicity only. Not to mention that, like others have said, it’s unlikely that people will be reading her interviews 20 years from now and hence know that DD is supposed to be gay.

          • SpinnersEnd

            In these terms, 26 is ancient. I’m right there with you. 10 years ago, I was 16 and it feels like a life time.

            10 years ago, the target audience of these books would have had a much harder time reading these books. They would have still be banned in many libraries, (my rural school and rural public libraries included), many parents would not have let their kids read it if one of the main characters had been openly gay.

          • DoraNympha

            *leans on my walking stick* Feels like a lifetime indeed!

            Yes, as much as we’re criticizing an apparent gap here, my first thought about Dumbledore wasn’t that it wasn’t even in the text but that it’s pretty cool of Rowling to reveal this about a huge character that is really the puppet-master of the story and so important that he’s actually admittedly the author’s mouthpiece until Hermione takes over this role after his death. I just thought, wow, cool of her!

          • Slughorn’s Trophy Wife

            It’s interesting that libraries didn’t ban the books once Jo said that Dumbledore was gay in the Q&A (as far as I know). But I guess they didn’t feel the need because it wasn’t explicitly stated in the text and they knew that not everyone reads the news and would find out this extra information.

            Does anyone know when libraries loosened up about carrying books including queer characters? Or are there some libraries to this day who still refuse to stock them?

          • ThatTimeRemusWaddiwasiedVoldy

            Just from my experience, I think libraries tend to reflect the culture of the area they are in, to a degree. If I go to my neighborhood library, or the ones downtown or in midtown Atlanta (genrally and proudly considered the gay epicenter of the South) the diversity of literature available at those libraries is in pretty stark contrast to what is available at say, my mom’s local library in rural Georgia. I remember trying to get my hands on The Color Purple while I was home for break during college. I had to wait 2 weeks for it to be loaned from another library two counties over. Granted, this is a much smaller library than the ones in the city, so the selection is bound to be more limited, but you can’t ignore the fact that one whole aisle was taken up by “Christian literature” and they had a set of Narnia books there and in children’s fantasy.

          • HelgaH

            This. Deathly Hallows was published in 2007. Marriage equality didn’t happen in the US until 2011. A lot of progress has happened in a short time. Had she written the books today, there may have been a real range of teen relationships. Especially during the Yule Ball scenes. GoF was written in 2000. That year for the first time gays were openly allowed to serve in the UK armed forces. Also that year California – bastion of progressive values – voted to not recognize same-sex marriages.

          • ThatTimeRemusWaddiwasiedVoldy

            Raises hand* Yep, I was 12 when I started the series, and 21 when DH was released. So really, a majority of the initial target audience for HP when it was released would have entered adulthood by the time the series ended. And it’s definitely been mentioned before that the series matured with it’s audience. I think it certainly could have included this element in that growth as well, at least in DH, if not earlier. Sure, there would have been an uproar from some fans, but honestly, I’m pretty much over this idea of withholding representation due to the potential outrage of bigots. Let them be angry, let them burn books, for me the benefits outweigh the cons. Potter has weathered the storm of religious zealotry demanding it be banned for promoting witchcraft, and even now we’re seeing bigoted outrage over a black Hermione. Yet it continues to rake in money, and retains it’s status in pop culture. DH was the last book, so I can’t see that this reveal within the text would have changed much in terms of sales.

            Also, 2007 was a different time, but this nonsense and outrage still happens now, so it seems to me that she may as well just have granted Dumbledore’s gay identity legitimacy by making it textual back then. At this point, that ambiguity, the fact that it ISN’T canonical, is only fuel for the homophobic sect of the fandom who continually cry “but Dumbledore ISN’T gay in the books!”. And, technically they aren’t wrong. I’ve been back and forth on this, but the idea that if only she had made it clear in DH, it would have removed that arguement from the discussion.

          • Lisa

            WORD! It could have been included in DH in a very organic way. Nobody is asking for the kind of unnatural inclusion that @DoraNympha mentioned in her post with hilarious examples, like “I’m Albus Dumbledore and I’ll be your gay Headmaster.” Of course not! The point is that it could have been woven into the story in a very natural manner, it belonged there. The subject of Grindelwald and Dumbledore has been raised several times in DH by different characters. All JKR needed to do was to take it one step further (in King’s Cross would be my suggestion but it could have worked in other places really). If there was a time and place in the text for Draco/Pansy, Hagrid/Maxine, Bella/Voldy, Ron/Lavender, Hermione/Cormac (or whatever his name was)… you get the point. The argument that it couldn’t have fit in just doesn’t work. The argument that she was afraid it would damage sales works but it doesn’t say much in JKR’s favor. And you’re totally right about Black Hermione and that controversy, good point! All the cries about “white genocide!!!” do resemble the “gay agenda” ones.

          • DoraNympha

            What, what’s wrong with

            Dumbledore lowered his hands and surveyed Harry through his
            half-moon glasses.
            “It is time,” he said, “for me to tell you what I should have told you
            five years ago, Harry. I’m gay.”

        • Minerva the Flufflepuff

          Section 28 only applied to the Public Sector (schools, councils etc), so it wouldn’t have had any legal implications on the Harry Potter books – except that they wouldn’t have been allowed to be read out in schools if they “promoted homosexuality” according to the law at the time.

          • DoraNympha

            Sure, it wouldn’t have been in libraries or discussed or on media in the public sector. Unfortunately, when it comes to queer representation, even if there are no laws or censorship, somehow there’s still been unnecessary censorship, a kind of “we could but best not…” mentality, by proxy. This is incomprehensible to me why, but I think we mustn’t forget this would have factored into the publishers etc. being overly cautious.

          • Minerva the Flufflepuff

            Oh, you’re definitely right! The influence and effective censorship of Section 28 was felt far beyond schools.
            The last two books were perfect for adding some queerness into the story, but that was an opportunity missed, sadly.

          • DoraNympha

            Yes and it’s totally idiotic, I mean, even today from Beauty and the Beast to Fantastic Beasts (so many beasts!) they are trying to lure us in with the promise of hints at queer representation and it’s always a lot less than expected, not to mention wink-wink-nudge-nudge attempts. Umm.. no. This was a thing of the 1890s, when this was actually a risky thing for real. Nowadays, nobody has to resort to this anymore, yet they do, under no legal obligation.

          • FatOldFart

            As far as Beauty and the Beast is concerned I thought the cartoon Lefue was just as gay and the live action version.

    • Minerva the Flufflepuff

      You say you’re sceptical of explicit comments on sexuality in text, but it sounds like that only extends to non-straight sexuality. Harry Potter is full of openly straight people living their openly straight lives having straight sex all over the place and yet we, with our assumption of straightness as the default, don’t even notice it.

      • Huffleclaw

        Not true. They’re just the most relevant relationships to this discussion. Perhaps skepticism is the wrong word to use, but it’s the best I can think of. I want to see same sex relationships done correctly, as normal and everyday relationships. I’ve rarely seen them done correctly in media, though. One example I gave above, Nico D’Angelo from the Percy Jackson series, quickly became over shadowed by other characters. There are plenty of straight relationships I have seen in fiction that are clunky or unrealistic.One in Potter that I did not buy initially was Lupin and Tonks. It just seemed very forced. On subsequent rereads I’ve been more inclined to accept it but it took a while.

        • Minerva the Flufflepuff

          I’m not familiar with the Percy Jackson books, but I agree on the Lupin/Tonks relationship. It felt forced, because I read Lupin as queer even without realising it (since I first read the books as a child and teenager). It’s a shame that Rowling didn’t take that extra step and make him explicitly queer. It really wouldn’t have detracted from the story in any way, instead I think it would have added to it. Same with Dumbledore.

      • DoraNympha

        YES thank you. I don’t know about the PJ series but you reminded me of this: there is a lot of love in the air in both the fore and the background that has nothing at all to do with advancing the plot in HP. Irrelevancy is not an excuse that cuts it when trying to explain the lack of same-sex relationships in HP. Or indeed most YA novels.

      • FatOldFart

        Keep in mind that the books are from Harry’s perspective. If Harry is interested in girls would he have paid any attention to guys in that way?

      • MartinMiggs

        there was never any sex scenes in the book whatsoever.

        • DoraNympha

          Well,there are implied ones, actually. Couples in the rose bushes at the Yule Ball, potentially at the wedding, and Harry’s mind wanders to times all over the grounds with Ginny, who winks at her when Muriel remarks on her low-cut dress. People also have children during the plot’s timeline. I think the narration had to remain this vague to stay tasteful, anything more detailed is the stuff of cheap romance novels. But they definitely do more than just snog in empty classrooms or secret passageways. The readers definitely know that characters have sex.

    • DoraNympha

      Same about the parallel: I also misunderstood (or just understood?) Lupin’s lycanthropy, and the prejudiced-against position this puts him in, as a queer experience, not as an HIV-positive experience. And also, I was born in ’91, so I grew up with images of HIV/AIDS not as a “gay cancer” or “GRID” or anything but as Princess Diana visiting African hospitals and I was too young to remember a time it was common to develop AIDS before the effective drug combinations were accessible. Interesting that the thing we’re all saying about Lupin is that his character overall is what resonated with us readers, not any clear parallel to real life issues. It’s not the early association between HIV and the gay community that I picked up (I was too young to even make that connection when I read PoA at age 10) but it’s interesting that there’s a number of us here who are reporting something otherwise relatable about his character.

  • BloodCharm

    I’m still listening to the recap, but yeah, Sirius confirms that Lily and James made Harry his guardian in The Dementor’s Kiss Chapter. So, Sirius could try, but most likely would be overruled.

  • BloodCharm

    I’m abut halfway through the podcast, but I just don’t really feel that there is much LGBTQIA stuff in Harry Potter besides Dumbledore/Grindlewald and Dumbledore’s character himself, although the metaphor about Credence in Fantastic Beasts, but like you said, that can apply to all sorts of repression of feelings. I am gay myself and would like to see more of it represented in the series. Although this topic has its merits, I honestly feel like the lack of material here makes the discussion somewhat fruitless. I don’t see any indication that Lupin is gay or bi-sexual either, he seems to have denied himself(at least from what we know) of sexual interaction because of him being a werewolf until he meets Tonks. This relates to things gay men go through, but trying to make it fit as literal doesn’t work. As for Remus and Sirius, they do have a very deep and loving friendship, but I just don’t see any evidence or any really strong subtext that they had a relationship. I hope we see more LGBTQIA stuff soon, but currently, there’s just not really enough meat on the bone to really dissect a lot of strong stuff here.

    • the_rhetor

      I don’t think there has to be sub-text or “text” text for the discussion to be fruitful or relevant. The queering of fictional characters and narratives have long been a site of resistance and critical thought. So, even if we can’t infer things -literally- from the HP world, we can still look at the influence of HP fandom and fantasy on the queer community as real world implications. I think all the personal narratives of how people read their own selves and their own sexuality in the characters is inherently a queer act because of the history of repression and lack of representation. Inference versus representative is discussed at large in the podcast which I also think is a valuable component to our understanding of identity both on the page and writ large.

    • Slughorn’s Trophy Wife

      Slughorn? This is the first time I’ve heard the speculation that he’s queer. It’s certainly possible. I just never considered it. And now I realize my username is heteronormative and I feel like a horrible person…lol

    • Arthur Dent

      For me, Sirius was/is the one character in Harry Potter I thought most likely to be gay, and in love with James, who – in typical straight guy fashion – has no clue.

      Just look at the Pensieve scene in Snape’s Worst Memory: Sirius is apparently oblivious to the girls adoring him and is only focused on James.

      As a gay guy who had a poster of Kim Basinger as Vesper Fairchild in his room as a teenager, I can confirm that the posters of scantily clad Muggle girls in Sirius’s bedroom mean nothing at all. 😉

      • travellinginabluebox

        From my experience with gay friends, most of them aren’t sure of their sexuality in their teens, just like everyone else is still slightly overwhelmed by it all. And so most of my friends came out in their early 20s because they just didn’t know earlier. And most of the characters we see in the books are aged 11-17…

        • Agreed. I too didn’t self-identify as “gay” until I was around 20.

          Just to be clear, though… I had the Kim Basinger poster not because I found her hot, but for its Veronica Lake type aesthetic. 😉

          Besides, it’s pretty much implied that Sirius’s main reason for hanging the posters was to annoy his parents.

          • Rosmerta

            I agree that for a lot of people, becoming comfortable with their sexuality usually occurs in 20s. As a mother of 2 teens, I wouldn’t want either of them to feel the need to label themselves, they have to learn about themselves first. Humans are complex, and trying to fit us into neat boxes doesn’t work, what’s normal for one person is an anathema for another. What we do need to learn and understand is that we can be different, and that is ok.

  • BloodCharm

    The Polyjuice Potion changes everything but your voice thing in the movies is kinda awful to me, lol. The potion WILL change the anatomy of the person’s larynx and vocal folds, don’t really understand why they couldn’t just keep it realistic.

    Harry and Draco would be awesome to me- Their enemies, but their passion feeds each other, yeah exactly, Draco’s mean to him because he likes him ha ha! Or after the events of Cursed Child, they start to have an affair since Ginny has been cheating on him with Michael Corner, the man that got away when she performed her biggest regret by breaking up with him.

  • Arthur Dent

    On the subject of Wizards and Christmas…

    Christmas — and Easter, for that matter — used to be pagan holidays before they were appropriated by Christianity, just like Halloween, so it makes sense that the Wizarding community would celebrate it, even if they’re not religious in general.

    • enougheffingowls

      Thank you for finding the quote! I’m glad I didn’t just imagine this :)

    • Phoenix

      Thank you!
      Bizarrely, whenever I read a Dumbledore quote these days, I imagine it in Michael’s Dumbledore voice… :)

      • You’re referring to Michael Harle, not Michael Gambon I presume? 😉

        • Phoenix

          Yes, of course! 😀

  • Lisa

    Regarding the topic of anti-gay sentiments in the wizarding world: I can imagine the pureblood fanatics having a problem with purebloods being gay, though. If pureblood ideology is similar to white supremacy ideology (and I think we can agree that there are some parallels) then an important part of it would be the “production” of more purebloods. A gay pureblood couple would not be able to further the pureblood line of their family (excluding more creative scenarios from fanfics like mpreg here) and hence that relationship is unlikely to be condoned. I think those people would be forced by their families to marry a person of the opposite sex and procreate. So it’s not the being gay per se which would be a problem but the fact that pureblood families must secure their survival, considering how few of them are left.
    As for religiosity, celebrating Christmas doesn’t say much as even atheists make a big deal about Christmas. But that’s an important point that Michael made because lack of religion removes most reasons for homophobia (not saying that all atheists/agnostics are LGBTQIA friendly though).

    • Slughorn’s Trophy Wife

      Those are good points. Though, I find it odd that none of the pureblood families we’re introduced to in the novels had large families (apart from the Weasleys – but we know their intentions had nothing to do with creating more purebloods). With your reasoning, you would expect there to be almost a Pureblood Religion/Cult where they encourage procreation and lots of it. Apart from the Weasleys, which pureblood couple had the most children? Going purely from memory, I don’t recall a family having more than two kids…three at the most. And (ignoring CC) Bellatrix had none.

      • Lisa

        Yes, I find it odd too. My guess is that like in the real world rich people just have fewer children than poor people. The pureblooded families are also noble (according to themselves) and possess quite a lot of wealth. So it’s fair to see them as upper class whereas the Weasleys would probably be lower middle class or something like that.

        I don’t have a coherent theory or anything, but I believe that procreation would be important to pureblood families. It would be illogical for it not to be important to them since they treasure themselves and their blood so much and it can’t have escaped their notice that they’re nearly extinct. This is probably also why, as Sirius tells us, pureblood supremacist families insisted on their children only marrying other purebloods. If the purpose isn’t to procreate then I’m not sure why the marriages would have to be pureblood or why people would need to be married in the first place. I’m sure the idea was that the nice pureblooded couple would produce the next generation of purebloods. Which is why a relationship between, say, Rodolphus and Lucius would have been frowned upon.

        (The pureblooded families are also very keen on keeping their blood clean, so no offsprings can be produced which would sully that blood. Tonks’s marriage to a werewolf is one thing but the threat of those two producing a child is even worse. Hence action must be taken. Not unlike the Muggle world’s honor killings really.)

    • DoraNympha

      Yes.

      I think we’ve discussed this on account of earlier episodes and I was too lazy to bring this up. It’s probably a thing. People tend to be bigoted about multiple things at the same time and there’s this huge emphasis on population control in terms of blood status. Lucius may be fine with some colleague of his being gay but I doubt he would be okay with it if it’s his only son. He simply has to carry on the bloodline in one way or another and also keep up a certain appearance. I think Jo just hasn’t thought much about it – she even admitted this when first asked about it. Since then, she’s changed her mind. So what’s the truth: is the wizarding community more tolerant or not? Because depending on the political climate, I’d say wizards tend to care quite a lot about who one is with, I mean, they keep track of everyone’s blood status and stuff… it’s oddly invasive and then the gov after the Ministry’s fall also issues actual propaganda against a group of people. This to me sounds like that nightmarish system in which the authorities and the public would definitely stick their noses into one’s private life, including one’s sexuality.

  • RIP Florean Fortescue

    I totally get the parallel between how werewolves are treated and the stigma against people with AIDS, but also HIV/AIDS does not turn you into a LITERAL MONSTER. And maybe JKR should’ve considered that before making this comparison???

    • DoraNympha

      Agreed. She wasn’t the first one, though, and it’s not just werewolves: those 80s-90s vampire movies clearly parallelled HIV with whatever monstrous creature sucked someone’s blood. I have never seen anyone who didn’t root for Remus and couldn’t see that he was wronged by the system and collective prejudice, so I guess the overall effect of his character is redeeming but it’s still based in a problematic parallel in the first place.

      But about Lupin in general: he’s stuck between two communities, the non-infected and the lawless werewolves, cast out by both, still a victim of prejudice but able to get married and have a child (like 5 minutes after dating someone but okay I guess okay fine ??????? what.) Interesting that that person is Tonks, who, yes, I agree, I presume can turn into a guy anytime (AND WHO WOULDN’T DO THIS JUST FOR KICKS OMG), and is rather tomboyish even when she’s in her regular comfortable skin. And then him and Sirius… I mean Lupin’s character is clearly coded bisexual/pansexual, consciously or not. Jo didn’t want to make the positive/lycanthrope character queer precisely because of the stigma coming from the early days of the virus but what we’ve ended up with is a half-attempt? And also with a lot of what Michael said on the show, having to point out when e.g. the pictures on Sirius’s wall come up that “it doesn’t mean anything”. Again. And again.

    • DisKid

      I wonder if that had to do with the fact that she grew up in the era where people legitimately *did* think people with HIV/AIDS were literal monsters. Many people thought the only people who got HIV/AIDS were gay; which many people associated with child molesters at the time and believed they were intentionally spreading the disease in public bathrooms. Ridiculous now, but that is what they used to think once upon a time as many people know. I completely get what you’re saying; that werewolfs are real monsters who will viciously attack/kill you and people with HIV/AIDs are not. But I do wonder if the comparison was also because people really did think people who were infected were monsters, putting them on no higher level than a monster such as a werewolf.

      I wonder if that’s also where the Wolfsbane potion comes into play with JK Rowling’s symbolism; where you’re still transformed but you are not the literal monster and are less likely to turn somebody else into a werewolf. This could be symbolic of current HIV medications where you’re not cured and can still spread it, but it increases the quality of life for HIV patients and reduces the risk of transmission towards others.

      I wonder if she wanted to get across the idea, in the wizarding world, that if Wolfsbane potion was more readily available (as it’s an extremely difficult potion) that werewolfs would be much less of a threat to society; yet society doesn’t want to consider making it available this as they think anyone affected is a monster in general and they shouldn’t do anything to help them. With this belief; the wizarding society is actually making them more of a threat, but they are too scared to see it that way. That’s how it was with society and HIV/AIDs medication for a long time.

      • Huffleclaw

        Yes! That is likely true. I didn’t even think of it. My mother would always check under theater seats and look at ATM’s for hidden needles because of the urban legend at the time that people were intentionally spreading AIDs by sticking used needles onto every day objects so that the person would get poked and their blood would be infected. I distinctly remember those urban legends back from 1995, which would have been when Rowling was writing.

        • DisKid

          Definitely something to keep in mind! The time period she was writing. While the third book did come out later, I bet she already had Lupin and the HIV/AIDs symbolism in mind when she was writing in 1995.

          • Huffleclaw

            And even if Lupin was thought up later, experiences that instill worry or fear stick with you.

      • RIP Florean Fortescue

        Yeah you’re totally right that people did think people with HIV/AIDS were actual dangerous monsters. But as we know, they were wrong, and I just think there might be a better way to write this parallel.
        For example, what if being a werewolf meant transforming into a wolf but keeping your mind…more like the effect of the wolfsbane potion but without having to take a potion. (Still a blood-borne illness requiring treatment and careful management, but less monster-y.) But what if the condition was still very misunderstood in the community and most wizards incorrectly believed that werewolves were vicious monsters, and thus perpetuated the stigma against them.

        • DoraNympha

          That would be better for a parallel if the point is to teach something through fantastic made-up conditions!

          However, and I may be alone in this after what the past 10 years or so of fantasy stories have given us especially in the YA genre, but I really want werewolves to be werewolves and vampires to be vampires and giants to be giants etc. Twilight and Shadowhunters and similar works of fiction are all fine for their fans, I enjoy them once in a while too, but what’s the point of writing about fictional monsters and beasts if we water them down and erase the real loss of control, real danger, real monstrosity, or even make them something appealing?

          It’s not to say these beasts/monsters/magical conditions have always been lacking in appeal. Vampires, for instance, do combine disease, feeding, AND sexuality but it’s not like a love interest should be able to get a vampire to control themselves, this is not supposed to be like getting your partner to stop smoking, otherwise the writer should write about getting one’s partner to stop smoking. If being a werewolf is just an involuntary Animagus act then it’s not so bad so readers aren’t concerned in the first place. If vampires can control their bloodthirst and simply sparkle in the sun, then they’re not really vampires so what’s the point, where’s the danger gone, why write about vampires at all? See my issue with this? It’s alright, it’s just not what I’m here for, not why I’m opening a fantasy book. I like merpeople to be unpredictable and territorial, I like dragons to be untameable, and phoenixes undomesticable! The parallel between the initial inaccessibility of working HIV drugs and the rarity of the expensive and incredibly difficult to brew Wolfsbane Potion was excellent, though!

        • DisKid

          I do completely get where you’re coming from and she certainly could have chosen a different way to write this parallel. She could have changed the way werewolfs were in her series as opposed to how they are in mythology. After all she did a little with not having werewolves affected by silver and merpeople are some pretty ugly beings!

          However, I also understand where DoraNympha is coming from in her desire for these mythological creatures to not be changed too heavily because that may be taking it too far as they already have their own story that JK Rowling doesn’t own. Maybe Alohomora could do a podcast about mythology in Harry Potter and the ways JK Rowling kept it and changed it!

          Taking both sides into account, I think JK Rowling worked with what she had and saw werewolves as an excellent opportunity for comparison with the stigma behind the conditions where people often don’t want anything to do with them even if they’re not transformed/not a sexual partner. The belief about people with HIV/AIDs being monsters also, as said before, may have had something to do with it as people didn’t change their mind until they learned more about those infected and medications improved.

          Even in the wizarding world with werewolves being werewolves and they will kill if they don’t have their potion; perhaps the wizarding world would change their mind about lycanthropy being so monstrous if they knew the story behind many afflicted and allowed them access to wolfsbane potion. Then the notion behind werewolfs could change just as easily as the notion behind people with HIV/AIDs did.

          I think that may have been the idea JK Rowling was going for in comparison. An unpotioned/reckless werewolf (like Fenrir Greybeck was) is dangerous, a potioned/cautious one (like Lupin was during the third year) is not. Kind of like an unmedicated/reckless person with HIV/AIDs can also be dangerous (not in the same monstrous way, but there have been criminal cases with HIV/AIDs), a medicated/cautious person with HIV/AIDs is not. Yet much of the public/wizarding world won’t give them a chance because they are too afraid of the stigma.

          • DoraNympha

            Or, moving into this century of fantastic-real parallels, a better comparison with medical advancements of PEP and PrEP would be a potion that prevents a lycanthrope from infecting others! If fantasy is a way to talk about real life issues without talking about those exact real life issues…

            Also, lycanthropy and HIV/AIDS aren’t really similar in the way they hit, which is why I still find it hard to see it as a clever comparison. HIV/AIDS, before treatments, was very unpredictable, whereas werewolves in the Potterverse know exactly when they’ll experience which symptoms, it’s a predictable cycle, which is quite different. Sorry if this is nitpicking… I just think there was probably a better way to show this. Why not invent a magical malady?

          • DisKid

            Well, when it comes to HIV/AIDs, I think the Wolfsbane potion actually is a pretty good parable for real life. They don’t currently have any medications that prevent transmission, just medications that make it less likely. That’s basically what Wolfsbane is. You still could transfer it to somebody as a werewolf, but since you keep your human mind it’s less likely you will because you know what you’re doing. I think she did great on the Wolfsbane.

            I’m not sure if she wanted to create a magical malady and do a closer comparison when it came to symptoms because I’m not sure she wanted it to be….obvious. It was a pretty sensitive subject when she thought him up and I don’t think she wanted the readers to be so distracted by the comparison that they forgot the book isn’t exactly about Lupin and his condition. Not to mention, given the time period, having her get accused of things then the book turns into a taboo all due to the HIV/AIDs comparison. I think her goal was probably to get the comparison, with an already existing creature, when it came to the stigma and the wolfsbane. Then it’s not so obvious and she could reveal the comparison on her own time.

  • TheViewFromVenus

    As a queer person who is entrenched in fandom, particularly the Harry Potter fandom, this topic has been a heated point of discussion for me. Due to me being caught up in the more Tumblr side of the fandom, I’ve have been experiencing the Harry Potter fandom from a almost sheltered perspective. It’s really interesting for me to place myself among Non-LGBTQIA+ fans and hear the utterly different ways they read the series and it’s characters. For me, personally, I read Harry as Bisexual along with Characters like Sirius. I have always read Lupin, Dumbledore and Gellert as Gay and Luna was always queer in my mind. When I tell this to people I, like you guys mentioned in the episode, gets the response of “You just want everybody to be gay for the sake of diversity.” That is something that always makes my blood boil.

    When it comes to Cursed Child, to which I admittedly read the script and will no doubt-idly never see the play, I was absolutely reading Albus and Scorpius as Queer and it was blowing my mind that so many others were not. This was not subtext, this was blatant. The thing that really got to me about Cursed Child and its Queer baiting is that when I brought up Albus sticking his tongue down his Aunt Hermione’s throat while polyjuiced as his Uncle Ron, not that many people seemed to have any problem with that, but oh boy you mention how you think Albus and Scorpius seem to have something going on between them and there is something wrong with you. It’s frustrating as it is disheartening.

    When it comes to Jo Rowling herself, I’m honestly unsure of what my exact feelings are. I think some people in the fandom give her too much credit and representation points when she has, to this point, not written a queer character that is said to be queer in canon. I mean if J.K. tomorrow writes on twitter that the twins were both Bisexual and had double the fun at the Quidditch after parties are we suppose to applaud her for it?

    All in all the thing that gets me is that giving us representation would not have been that difficult like some people like to pretend it would have been. Take the scene in the Goblet of Fire in the preparation to the Yule Ball after Ron tells Harry that he would have nothing to worry about and that girls would be queuing up to be his date. This is from the chapter The Unexpected Task pg 389,
    “Moreover to Harry’s amazement, he turned out to be quite right. A curly-haired third-year Hufflepuff girl to whom Harry had never spoken in his life asked him to go to the ball with her the very next day.The following day, two more girls asked him, a second year and (to his horror) a fifth year who looked as though she might knock him out if he refused”
    If you simply add another sentence or so mentioning how a few boys asked Harry to the ball as well that would have been spectacular.

    To close, I think you all did an excellent job on this topic and episode. I hope that you all continue viewing Potter critically through this queer lens and I hope someone makes mention of this in the long waited Sirius Black episode.

  • Penney Fold-Quaffle

    Hi all, I’ve been listening to the show for almost a year but quite out of order and not in real time, so this is my first post on the forums! Really loved the nuanced and inclusive episode this week.

    One small correction – a host referred to the possibility of Dumbledore being demisexual but then inferred that this meant attracted to intelligence… I think she meant sapiosexual; this is the term that means attracted to intelligence specifically. Demisexual is harder to define but typically refers to a person who is only able to be attracted to someone after there’s a strong emotional connection, and often this leads to feeling attraction much less often than the average person. The two are easy to mix up since I believe both terms caught on around the same time.

    And regardless, Dumbledore could have been either one, or both. He may have rarely been attracted to anyone so the loss and betrayal of Grindelwald struck even deeper. He may have been attracted to Grindelwald’s intelligence, but not all smart people use their brilliance for good. As referenced in the episode, it’s possible JKR meant Dumbledore became celibate when she said asexual. Celibacy is a choice; asexuality isn’t. It seems more likely that this is a choice Dumbledore made, as it parallels the choice he made not to seek positions of power. He doesn’t trust himself with the temptations of power or love, and believes that both cloud his judgment.

    As far as Dumbledore’s sexual orientation not being mentioned in the text, it’s possible that JKR was restricted by her publishers, or cowed by her publishers’ wishes, as she was when using initials instead of her full name because they believed some boys might not be as likely to read books written by a female. Jo did say she would have fought the latter if she’d had more power or control at the time of the first book’s publication, and she did not fight the Dumbledore-is-gay exclusion, as far as we know, when it could have been dropped into the 7th book. I do find this odd because I have no doubt Jo has always been supportive of minority rights of all kinds. I think it should have been included in the books, if only a couple lines… because years from now, the Harry Potter books will still be classics, and that won’t be in the text. For example, we don’t remember newspaper articles written in the 1950s and 60s about the Chronicles of Narnia, even if they contained additional info from the author. Any info not in the text itself may be missed by readers, regardless of whether it was reported in news sources at the time.

  • Penney Fold-Quaffle

    Who Did and Didn’t Read as LGBTQIA in HP:

    – I didn’t read Dumbledore as gay when I first read the books in early high school, mainly because I didn’t think much about it (ironically, since I have identified with the LGBTQIA spectrum in the past and still do in one aspect). During my first read, I noticed that Dumbledore and McGonagall both appeared older, alone, and single, and vaguely wondered if they had some affection for each other, but never thought there was anything textually overt to support this. At the time I didn’t have a conception of how old they were in relation to each other (not that age necessarily matters, but it shaped my perception at the time). By the time of the announcement that Dumbledore was gay, I was older and had read the books more than once. I loved the reveal right away and upon rereads do think he reads as gay, but in an ambiguous way. It’s not definitively there in context clues, but there are hints of it. It makes sense textually and adds a lot to the story in my opinion.

    – I DID read Lupin/Sirius as implicitly gay or bi, and interested in each other, on my very first read. I wasn’t even part of online fandom at the time, just enjoying the books with local friends, so I had no idea that other people read them that way too. I always had trouble buying Lupin and Tonks’ relationship because of this… it felt a bit one-sided to me, on Tonks’ end. Lupin seemed to have more chemistry with Sirius. To me there was definitely something between the two guys, whether they were gay or bi, or maybe only one was gay/bi and the other wasn’t… but that flavor was there in some capacity. This is especially interesting because as teens, James and Sirius seemed more like best friends than Sirius and Lupin, but James definitely didn’t read as gay to me. I find it possible that Sirius crushed on both James and Lupin… or perhaps he just idolized James, or cared deeply for him as a friend/family. Hard to say with so little textual information. Given the read that Lupin/Sirius have feelings for each other, at least by adulthood, it’s intriguing that they each worried the other was the spy who would betray the Potters as Secret-Keeper. I wonder why they would suspect each other despite such a close bond? Or did it stem from the fear that one of the people they loved best would betray them?

    – Scorpius/Albus read very much like Lupin/Sirius to me, in that the implication was there even though it was never explicitly stated in the text or confirmed outside the text. They have far more chemistry than Scorpius/Rose. I feel like a lot of people would have *liked and embraced Cursed Child more* (despite all the storyline and character portrayal problems) if Scorpius and Albus had become a couple! There’s a difference between a “bromance” (like Harry/Ron, Joey/Chandler from Friends, Cory/Shawn from Boy Meets World) with characters I read as straight, and those guys that have something more between them. Scorpius and Albus’s general relationship was fully developed and had a sense of intimacy, whereas Rose wasn’t even developed as a person, and virtually no relationship of any kind developed between Rose and Scorpius during the play.

    – Luna: I never really thought about her as lesbian or bisexual, but also never strongly shipped her with anyone. I think it makes perfect sense for Luna to be bisexual or pansexual, or even asexual or demisexual. I can see her as either very accepting and someone who falls for people, not genders… or as a person who is supportive of others and more interested in friendship than romance and/or sexuality. In the books at least, Luna is one of the few teens who does not appear to be attached to or obsessed with romance or sexuality, which brings a certain sense of detachment to her character, even though she cares about and empathizes with other people in general. However, I’m more inclined to believe that Luna grew into a bisexual/pansexual role by the time she reached full adulthood, as she’s very open-minded and original, and I’d expect this to apply to her sexuality as well!

    – I agree with Jo and didn’t read Charlie Weasley as gay, but either as asexual or simply that a relationship, marriage, and/or children weren’t a priority for him; perhaps he had some casual interactions or dated casually. Or perhaps he did want some of those things and they just didn’t work out, but based on Jo’s comments the above possibilities seem to be more likely. Charlie Weasley focusing on dragons and being more passionate about his work with animals makes me think of how Newt might have ended up if he didn’t meet close friends like Tina, Jacob, and Queenie.

    – Harry/Draco: I understand why people pick up on this ship, am amused/entertained by it, and can get on board in a parody way like with AVPM, but don’t see it as canon, more of an alt universe thing, personally. I don’t think there’s a lot of textual support for it (maaaaybe a little on Draco’s end) but I get why people sense the undertone and why they enjoy the ship.

  • Minerva the Flufflepuff

    The problem I have with how Rowling dealt (or didn’t deal) with queerness in Harry Potter is the way she turns it into a metaphor, therefore sidelining it altogether.

    Remus Lupin, for example, is so obviously coded as gay, not just through the historic link between gayness and the HIV/AIDS crisis: Society’s reaction to his being outed as a werewolf was that parents didn’t want him teaching their children points directly to the widespread fear of gay men being paedophiles. The Prisoner of Azkaban was written while Section 28 was still in law in the UK (which forbid schools and other local authority to “promote homosexuality” and was only repealed in 2003).

    Lupin has to constantly hide who he is, but still yearns to fit in and ends up reluctantly marrying Tonks – a relationship that never felt very natural to me. He is not trusted around children and parents think he’s a monster. He is clearly coded as gay and yet, even in book 7, Rowling does not goes far as actually hinting that he might not be straight.

    This really confuses me, because by making Lupin a metaphor for a gay man, she is essentially erasing gay men from her narrative and her world. It doesn’t matter what she says on Twitter, because in the books we don’t get any queer characters at all: Instead we just get metaphors. She missed a real opportunity to write inclusively about queerness, especially in the later books, and make a real difference to so many young people.

  • Minerva the Flufflepuff

    Aw, my comment just now was “detected as spam” apparently :(
    Here it is again, let’s see if it makes it this time:

    The problem I have with how Rowling dealt (or didn’t deal) with queerness in Harry Potter is the way she turns it into a metaphor, therefore sidelining it altogether.

    Remus Lupin, for example, is so obviously coded as gay, not just through the historic link and stigma between gayness and the HIV/AIDS crisis: Society’s reaction to his being outed as a werewolf was that parents didn’t want him teaching their children points directly to the widespread fear of gay men being paedophiles. The Prisoner of Azkaban was written while Section 28 was still in law in the UK (which forbid schools and other local authority to “promote homosexuality” and was only repealed in 2003).
    Lupin has to constantly hide who he is, but still yearns to fit in and ends up reluctantly marrying Tonks – a relationship that never felt very natural to me. He is not trusted around children and parents think he’s a monster. He is clearly coded as gay and yet, even in book 7, Rowling does not goes far as actually hinting that he might not be straight.

    This really confuses me, because by making Lupin a metaphor for a gay man, she is essentially erasing gay men from her narrative and her world. It doesn’t matter what she says on Twitter, because in the books we don’t get any queer characters at all: Instead we just get metaphors and allegories. She missed a real opportunity to write inclusively about queerness, especially in the later books, and make a real difference to so many young people.

    • frumpybutsupersmart

      It’s like the idea “if your metaphor for racism doesn’t include any people of colour, you’re doing something wrong!” It’s all well and good to have metaphors for queerness, but she could have included an actual gay person.

  • DoraNympha

    Ahh I’ve been waiting for this topic for so long! Great discussion. I’ll have a lot to comment on those things touched upon in the ep and some more, but I’ll definitely start by being a know-it-all and use the research I did for my thesis on queer representation in Britain to discuss HP. Just because I felt the need to stir the thestral carriage over to this side of the pond for the main books’ timeline, and then we’ll see how Fantastic Beasts will be different.

    *Hermione voice* So…

    On Parallelling the Muggle world:

    Here’s the thing. We don’t know what the divergence of the wizarding and Muggle worlds means in terms of legislation. They split at the Statute of Secrecy in 1692, when there was no real parliament as we know it today, it was still in the making, etc. At this time, the Muggle base law in Britain that all other further homophobic legislation and amendment built itself on was the 1533 Buggery Act issued by Henry VIII, which was essentially the prohibition of all sexual acts between anyone, same or mixed sex, that didn’t lead to children.
    Homophobic persecution rose in waves – there were decades when you could be as out and about as you wished, whether in courts or in mollyhouses as they were called back then, and not get punished, but there were other decades when they really did follow through with executions up until as late as the 1861 Offences Against the Person Act changed the death penalty to anything between 10 years and life for “serious” offences, between men, while “smaller” offences were not punishable by law because never specified. This was the base law in 1885 when the infamous Labouchere Amendment further prohibited any “act of gross indecency”.
    As the dust settled after the Wilde trials, homohobic persecution rose in waves again, during WWI, WWII, and then in the 1950s, of which you spoke in the episode. I don’t know why anything between the by now very different wizarding and magical world would change now in particular but here’s what happened in the 1950s in Muggle law if that helps:
    The Lavender Scare was this rising homophobic hysteria that intermingled with a long-standing association of homosexuality with enemy forces (“The German Vice” or “The French Vice” etc., MP Noel Pemberton Billing used this to threaten stikedowns in WWI, this was a weird thing, yes), and this being the height of the Cold War, the British police increased arrests. There were even high-profile cases meant as a deterrent for others (men, mostly, since the law never especially prohibited consentual acts between women in Britain but there were other legal and economical issues for us, sorry to leave this as a sidenote now but let’s move on with the law on men). Such big scandals as the Montagu affair, with Peter WIldeblood, or even Turing’s case fell into this, kind of (he called the police on himself because of the burglary, don’t believe The Imitation Game, it’s not accurate AT ALL). However, what they didn’t expect was that instead of this being a deterrent, it had the opposite affect because the public were now disgusted not with the practices really but with the police’s entrapment tactics and they felt for famous people they celebrated. As E. M. Forster wrote in his end notes to Maurice, there had been a “change from ignorance and terror to familiarity and contempt”. One thing changed significantly: the unmentionable, the love that dare not speak its name, became headline news and very much part of a discussion.

    Here we go into the Wolfenden Report.
    1957: the Report of the Departmental Committee on Homosexual Offences and Prostitution, aka the Wolfenden Report sees the daylight, recommending the legalization of private consentual sexual acts between men, until then very much imprisonable offences. Fun fact for Potter fans: there is a docudrama, Consenting Adults (2007), about this, starring Sean Biggerstaff as Jeremy Wolfenden, the journalist (and failed double agent spy) son of John Wolfenden, the chair of this committee (played by Charles Dance). Based on Sebastian Faulks’ biography of Jeremy in The Fatal Englishman, this is pretty accurate. The recommendation only came to fruition under Labour in 1967, and then it still took decades for the age of consent to be equal and the developments and protections of the 21st century our age group is more familiar with because we’ve lived through it. There was a thing few will remember, Thatcher’s Section 28, which sounds effin savage so I’ll quote it:

    Prohibition on promoting homosexuality by teaching or by publishing material.
    (1)A local authority shall not—
    (a) intentionally promote homosexuality or publish material with the intention of promoting homosexuality;
    (b) promote the teaching in any maintained school of the acceptability of homosexuality as a pretended family relationship. (Local Government Act 1988)

    So that was very much a thing throughout the ’90s. In terms of the HIV/AIDS crisis, there was government inaction in the UK too, since there was a conservative government in power here as well as in the USA all throughout that time.

    Let’s just catch up on the situation in the USA during the timeline of FB:

    There was the Harlem Renaissance that they showed NOTHING of in the first film (forever mad about it), which gave us queer poets and authors and there were very much gay and lesbian specific bars. Movies were also quite daring until the 1934 Hays Code enforcement. These clubs would be raided again and again, homosexuality was officially a mental illness and sexual practices only started to be legalized state by state as of the 1960s (up until Lawrence v. Texas as late as 2003. yes. that’s 2003. yes. wow.)

    If we’re going to be traveling elsewhere in other FB movies: Code Napoleon = no such prisony policey public shamey thing went on in France or the Netherlands etc. since like the mid 19th century. I don’t know which countries we’ll see during the movies but even in 1930s Berlin for example there was a flourishing queer scene. It was THE place to go. Until it was exactly the place NOT TO GO.

    So here’s my question: if it directly parallels the Muggle world in the wizarding one… … … or I guess a bit less so because Rowling changed her mind a bit since that original statement…….. … .
    ..

    ..
    No, actually, I don’t have a question, I’m just here to say that if they do explicitly handle the fact that Dumbledore’s gay, they’d better do it properly because the series is about love and Dumbledore is probably that one character that keeps going on about love as this special thing Harry has that Voldemort doesn’t…. we should absolutely hear about why he went off relationships after being burnt once. He knew Grindelwald for ONE SUMMER when they were like 18 or 19. It can’t have been a summer crush. And I don’t believe he “became” asexual, I think Jo just used a wrong word and meant to say he became celibate. But yes, as you said in the episode, this is still that tropey thing that gives us nothing. I’ll talk about strategic casting in a separate post, though. But here, more of historical parallels:

    Umbridge. So, we know she is responsible not only for the Muggle-born Registry but for some legislation never specified that makes it near impossible for Remus to hold a job. Sirius says this in the fire in GoF. It is like her to pull something like that, isn’t it? And it is prejudice and hysteria and just a general dislike of anyone who’s different than her. It’d be the Umbridges of the world to be like THatcher and issue a Section 28-like legislation. And these things always somehow come as amendments. As if people won’t notice if it’s an afterthought to a paragraph. Interesting. Also interesting that the movie for OotP included that heteronormative decree on boys and girls not being permitted to be within 8 inches from each other. “Ummm… okay! I can do that!” – said every queer student, cackling at their straight friends. (But then Yates’ movies were always extra heteronormative but those are not even my biggest frustration with them but I felt it important to point out. Not cool.)

    The Lucius Malfoys of the world would be cool with someone unrelated being gay – sure, I guess. But if they represent that bigoted circle with Fudge and Umbridge and stuff, I think it’s very possible that everything isn’t rosy in the wizarding garden in terms of legislation on the queer community. If they go as far as trying to discourage wizard-muggle/muggle-born unions, just for literally no reason, I don’t think Umbridge would miss out on the chance to sneak some homophobic amendment into one of her decrees or bills. This is SO how it happens. And it IS a war situation similar to WWII, and even Scrimgeour’s Ministry is supposed to mirror the Cold War era surveillance, spying, infiltration, double agents, and the ensuing hysteria that is very much what the 1950s were like in queer history.

    So, getting back to the first point, the devolution of the wizarding and Muggle worlds: the question is whether wizards just happened to keep archaic laws and forgot to change them and they still live by Medieval/Victorian/1950s law OR they never really had anything such as this long-standing history of homophobic laws in Britain because this has never been an issue? And how much changed regarding this when Voldemort and co. came up with totalitatian ideas that very much focused on population control? And then there’s the issue of blackmail, as always. Are we missing out on a very valid background story of a wizarding Lavender Scare during the 1990s timeline?

    That’s it. I’m deeply sorry for this atrocious know-it-allness, I just have a lot of questions. And this is what a lack of representation results in: OVERTHINKING.

    • travellinginabluebox

      Holy shit… That is one book of a comment.

      • DoraNympha

        Haha thanks… Yeah it was 90,000 characters worth of a comment for my BA degree, actually. Plus complaints about how Downton Abbey forgets gay people lived and didn’t go to prison 0.00002 seconds after kissing someone before 1967. Any questions, I got a library of sources & answers. Also, really recommending that movie, I mean, it has Oliver Wood as an unapologetically queer journalist turned spy? I’m here for it. I believe some scenes were shot at the same locations as some of the courtyard scenes for HP too, at Oxford or something that looked quite similar haha. He won a BAFTA Scotland for that, too!

        • Minerva the Flufflepuff

          hey, I’m actually interested in reading that thesis. Do you mind sharing it at last privately?

          • DoraNympha

            Absolutely! It’s not published right now – I would have had to shorten it to a quarter of its length so I rejected an offer this summer. Drop me a line at dorathebrit@gmail.com

    • Phoenix

      Wow! There is too much in this to comment on everything, so here is just one little aspect, which doesn’t mean the rest wasn’t interesting!

      I think Umbridges decree to separate boys and girls is very much in character. Sure, it’s heteronormative, but I would expect Umbridge to think that way. She is extremely conservative (“progress for the sake of progress must be discouraged”), and paying attention to the fact that other people might be different from themselves has never been the strong point of conservatives. Sometimes, different sexualities don’t get banned simply because those in power to ban them don’t consider them relevant or don’t even realise they exist.
      (Edit: Also, that decree isn’t that far from existing Hogwarts rules, remember the dormitory staircase.)

      • DoraNympha

        Oh absolutely! It’s totally in character! I always have to remind myself it’s not in the book because it really does sound like something in line with her character. And ironically, it’s the absence of even the acknowledgement of queer students – a big part of this very discussion! Unlike the much-criticised movie-ism of an all-girls Beauxbatons and all-boys Durmstrang,
        the film decrees are spot on!

        (The stairs…! Oy vey… In a world where everyone has wands, the boys should be protected by trick stairs too – either every student or none, imo – and if they were the founders’ idea, subsequent generations should have put a charm on them to be equal since then.)

        • Phoenix

          Oh, I thought you had been criticising that movie addition, now I see I misread what you wrote. I agree with everything you wrote then! :)

          (And don’t get me started on Beauxbatons girls and Durmstrang boys, there is so much wrong with this. Assigning gender to nationalities – seriously…)

          • DoraNympha

            Yeah, my mistake. I was criticising Yates’ decisions or oversight or whatever was going through his mind then, as well as in DH with the tent dance and the Neville-is-suddenly-in-love-with-Luna thing, but the actual decree is actually quite plausible for Umbridge, so I’m taking ten points from him for the unnecessary romances but giving him back one point for the decree!

    • HowAmIGoingToTranslateThis

      you’ve so earned the queen of all shout-out maximas!

      • DoraNympha

        Ooop nahh I’m just happy with some blue marbles for my house! #RavenclawPride ^^

  • DoraNympha

    About strategic casting: this is a thing that is very useful in movies and even adaptations (looking at you, James Ivory and your purpuseful casting of Rupert Graves in Maurice and A Room With A View), to give us extra hints. A sort of visual queer coding, if you will. So I absolutely think we ought to pay attention to this: it’s Jude Law as Dumbledore, it’s Ezra Miller as Creedence, but it’s also Colin Farrell as Graves/Grindelwald, it’s also David Thewlis as Lupin. If Miriam Margolyes was always intended to be Sprout such as when Jo wrote McGonagall with Maggie Smith in mind, then that is strategic casting too. I think this does matter.

    I think you rightly pointed out in the episode that many are reluctant to accept queer readings because they consider heterosexuality as a default when it’s really not. In fact, there are endless queer coded characters in HP, depending on what Jo did on purpose or by accident, or unconsciously coming from her own literary influences. I mean, we might as well pick any character from Lockhart to Grubbly-Plank who exhibit even a little bit of atypical gender expression but there is also stuff in the narrative.

    Here’s my ultimate problem: I’m looking for representation, not readings. Just because something isn’t contradicted in canon, it doesn’t mean it’s there. It could be but it’s not enough. Invisibility is such a pet peeve of mine as a bisexual woman in the world who loves literature and film. Subtext just doesn’t cut it anymore: the laws prohibiting ouvert or sympathetic depictions of queer characters were abolished and broke down in the 1960s in both the UK and in the USA. Subtext is a thing that existed to slip queer content under the iron door of censorship before that.* Decades, I repeat DECADES, after censorship laws have been invalidated due to legalization, there IS no more subtext, only queerbaiting. In fact, not only is it not queer coding in Cursed Child, it’s not even queerbaiting, it’s queer blocking, if I may invent a phrase. Yes, children’s literature and costly productions on stage and screen will be more conservative and cautious than the actual audience but there is a huge gap now between what is represented and what audiences can take or even want. And you’re right, very few creators can spearhead progress with such financial security behind them such as Jo and Warner Bros, so all I’m saying to the FB production team: if you’re going to explore Dumbledore’s love life, let me quote Yoda and say do or do not, there is no try. If you’re going to do it, do it well. It’ll be appreciated a thousand times more than there will be backlash.

    ——————-
    * About censorship in the UK… long footnote.
    1. Obsenity Laws:
    – explicit or sympathetic depiction in fiction of queer themes and characters officially was seen as the publication recommending crime. Queen Vic’s “Encouragement of Piety and Virtue” and against “vice, profaneness, debauchery and immorality’, groups like the Society for the Suppression of Vice were taking it upon themselves to bear down on offenders, often through agents provocateurs.
    – The 1857 Obscene Publications Act of Parliament was only next amended in 1959 and 1964. Now, the effect of the whole publication or later fictional works in media made by new technology, not a part could land not just authors but editors and publishers in jail.
    2. BBFC:
    The British Board of Film Censors founded in 1912, later renamed the British Board of Film Classification in 1984, in addition to wartime propaganda of the Ministry of Information’s Film Unit made sure homosexuality was an unmentionable subject on screen and even on set until Victim (1961).
    3. Section 28: a ban on queer content in public spaces minors could access. Highly criticised by Derek Jarman and alike as an attack on culture. HP was written and first published while this was still in effect.

    • Lisa

      Definitely agree about the difference between reading and representation. I see that kind of stuff on sites like tumblr all the time “this character is gay” “I’ve always seen this character as trans” I’ve always seen this character as Asian/Indian/whatever”. That’s all very well but that doesn’t mean the books are progressive just because it’s not impossible to imagine characters as belonging to a minority. Yet this is the argument you hear all the time when pointing out the lack of diversity “oh well he could be gay/trans/bi we just don’t know”. Sure and unicorns might exist because no one can prove they don’t. Or arguments like how Rowling is so progressive for not mentioning race or sexual orientation explicitly because it’s irrelevant. You see, it should be about how you are as a person deep down and not about whether you’re a man/woman/straight/gay/black/white. This kind of comments make it seem like all of us analyzing the books from the diversity perspective are just not open minded enough to realize how irrelevant those factors are. Except that in the real world they’re unfortunately pretty damn relevant and there’s no point in sticking one’s head in the sand and pretending there’s no problem. JKR never shied away from portraying someone as straight or white, she never implied Harry or Hermione or Ron’s sexuality. Maybe she should have, right? Because sexuality after all is irrelevant.

      • DoraNympha

        RIght! Diversity over colourblindness. ANd since when has sexuality been irrelevant, especially in a story so much centered around love? There are a LOT of irrelevant straight romances in HP that are totally unnecessary to the plot and yet they are there on the page. (Not to mention the extra straightness in the movies. Can you, like not shove it under our noses…? Sorry for that sarcasm but come on, Yates.)

    • Huffleclaw

      About Cursed Child, that is one of the few times I’ve nearly thrown a book across the room. I would have actually done it, but I only have Cursed Child on my Kindle so that would have been a very pricey rage. The entire time reading it I was sure Albus and Scorpius were going to become a couple. If not a couple, they’d end up close to realizing it. That wasn’t even subtext on the page, that was the actual writing. I have not seen the show so I cannot comment on the presentation but just reading it I was positive that they were at the very least crushing on each other. Then they had to ruin it by sticking in a pointless line about Scorpius asking out Rose Weasley.

      • DoraNympha

        Glad CC didn’t make you break your Kindle haha! And, here’s the thing, even if Jo or the writers or whoever were to say that Scorpius and Albus later fell in love indeed: DOESN’T MATTER because it is outside the canon timeline and text. Here’s where the problem of intention and reading comes in. In linguistics, there are two terms in connection with utterances: illocutionary force and perlocutionary force. The first is whatever intention the speaker had when making an utterance: to promise, to advise, to warn, etc.; the latter is whatever effect an utterance has on the addressee: being convinced, freightened, angered, etc. And both are irregardless of what the actual truth is. It doesn’t ultimately matter what the author’s intention was if it doesn’t come through or a different thing comes through and is read by the readers/audience. And yes, the amount of “subtext” (bear in mind this isn’t just not subtext but subtext doesn’t exist in the absence of censorship that necessitates for an author not to be seeming like they are recommending crime or whatever) that there is in CC, excuse me if I don’t buy that it was unintentional.

  • DoraNympha

    About Rita Skeeter: I think she fell for what we all did with Dumbledore: his sexuality is not the thing we think about because he’s this 120-year-old sage. Interesting that such a gossip columnist didn’t go for his love life to dig up some dirt. I bet the wizarding world under the height of Umbridge’s power would have loved the outing of Dumbledore by a rumourmonger’s book. If only to discredit him, even if the wizarding world is more preoccupied with blood-status. The champion of Muggle-borns and half-giants and werewolves and elves and stuff, the arch nemesis of our Dear Leader Voldemort, is gay? Then I guess by association that’s a thing the government would expect the public to shun?

    • Minerva the Flufflepuff

      Didn’t she hint at it by writing something about his “unnatural” relationship with Harry or something like that in Deathly Hallows?

      • DoraNympha

        Ohhh that’s true. You know why. -.- *sigh* (the musical spoofs built some jokes in it too…)

      • frumpybutsupersmart

        Yeah, I think the quote from DH is “[the relationship] has been called unhealthy, even sinister…” I’m pretty sure Rita was saying this in an interview about her book.

        • Phoenix

          Maybe Rita tried hard to find information on Dumbledore’s sexuality but couldn’t find any. After all, her main source on Dumbledore and Grindelwald was Bathilda Bagshot, who might just not have seen it. Disappointed by this lack of evidence, that horrible insinuation about Dumbledore and Harry was the “best” she could come up with.

  • DoraNympha

    Does anyone think JKR replied in a bit of an odd way in the A Year in the Life documentary when asked whether Charlie is gay? She doesn’t just say no, she says Dumbledore’s gay. And then she adds she doesn’t think Charlie is gay just more interested in dragons.

    This has never sat right with me, somehow, because her bringing up Dumbledore is as if there can only be one gay character in the vast world of HP with its hundreds of characters. That’s impossible. It’s just a bit weird, her reply.

    • Lisa

      YES! Definitely, it was super weird and a bit nasty. Like “Well I already made one character gay so what do you people want from me???”.

    • Minerva the Flufflepuff

      What… are you suggesting that there might actually be MORE than one token gay character in any given narrative? 😛

      • DoraNympha

        *gasp* we’re stealing every character!!!

    • ThatTimeRemusWaddiwasiedVoldy

      I feel like it was a damned if you do, damned if you don’t sort of thing. If she herself had never considered Charlie gay, I think there’d be issues with her suddenly saying “Oh yeah, sure I guess he can be gay” because there is something disingenuous about that. Just slapping that label on a character she didn’t previously intend to be gay feels just as unsatisfying as claiming a character to be gay all along without any textual evidence.

      But you’re also right, that this clinging to “but, Dumbledore is gay” is also problematic. It just comes down to the fact that there needs to be more representation IN the text. No matter what she says about characters after the fact, it isn’t good enough without basis within the narrative.

      I think she probably would have been better off with an answer more along the lines of “I suppose he could be, I’ve just never considered his love life as I only cared about his fascination with dragons” because it seems like that is the actual truth of it. I can’t say for sure of course.

      • Phoenix

        You may be right, but is it really likely that she never considered Charlie’s love life or lack thereof? After all, she made the decision for Charlie to remain unmarried and not to have children, even before that question was asked (in fact, that was WHY the question was asked). So she chose Charlie as the one Weasley to not get married and have children like everyone else. In order to do that, she even let pass an opportunity to think of more names, and we know how much she loves that! 😉

    • DisKid

      I felt like her saying “No, Dumbledore is gay” was her saying she wanted people to know Dumbledore is gay. I do agree with you that it seems a little off to say that, but I always thought that was why she said it. I think she wanted people to know and saw that as her opportunity. I do agree it was a bit weird, but that’s what I took from it.

  • DoraNympha

    I just realised I’ve been a bit negative in my comments so… does anyone feel like sharing what queer relationships you think there could be in HP? What is there to go on? Is there anything that contradicts it? What would it add to the main teachings of the story or even to the advancement of the plot? Where could it have been included in the text? All aboard the ships!

    • For me there are only two obvious queer ships: Dean/Seamus and Pomfrey/Sprout, but they’re based more on the films than the books themselves. Dean’s relationship with Ginny and Sprout’s failed relationship with Flitwick don’t really contradict these ships.

      One more that I’ve already mentioned above is the unrequited love I believe Sirius had for James.

      That’s not to say that there aren’t several characters I like to imagine might be queer without shipping them with anyone in particular — including Kingsley Shacklebolt, Millicent Bulstrode, Colin Creevey, Blaise Zabini, Wilhelmina Grubbly-Plank, Rolanda Hooch, …

      • DoraNympha

        Yeah I’ve been enlightened to the world of Deamus quite recently and I was surprised at how many clues there can be if you squint… (I’m just going to lowkey confess to hardcore shipping Percy and Oliver and it actually makes a lot of sense and I can justify it by a tradition of queer coding and we missed out on a huge and much more interesting double agent story here but whateverrr…)
        My default and bias (ha!) has mainly just led me to read characters as bi+, Lupin, Luna, Tonks, and yes some Quidditch girls (I mean why not). And I still want an unapologetically camp musical about Gilderoy Lockhart. When is Disney picking up THAT? *u*

        • Biggerstaff-Oliver… yes. Book-Oliver… not so much. I never thought about Percy, but I can kinda see it… he’s got that overcompensating/self-repressing thing going.

          • DoraNympha

            He’s also accused of spying and a very important part of his character is keeping up appearances. These and the pomousness and positioning him in a dislikable light all add up to queer coding in literature seen before the 1960s. The actual act of keeping his relationship a secret for a whole year is also kind of ??? even if it’s a girlfriend, who I think he genuinely liked because a “beard” is the opposite of a secret relationship but she just so happens to be the Head Girl – so perfect. Too perfect? (This is the problem with readings vs. representation. I’m not wrong because the canon doesn’t contradict me but…)

            Oliver’s never interested in anyone in the text but I thought he’s such an ambitious, over-achieving, work-obsessed person, he and Percy would have related to each other in that sense, whether they were friends or not or whether we can ship them or not. He’s never in conflict with anyone who isn’t on an opposing team, and Percy would respect a fellow badge-holder. I don’t know what I’d think of the probable copious amounts of posters of burly Quiddich players above his bed. Probable. Oh and if anyone says he’s not an intellectual person: he’s made of 90% strategy planning, 5% actual Quidditch playing, and 5% sobbing. (+ he’s also always shutting the twins down to quit messing around……. some of the fun-spongeness of Percy clearly rubbed off on him.)

        • RegulusBlackout

          Bi-five for that pun! 😉 hehe

          Seriously, though, I share the bias and read so many characters as bi+, it’s basically my default too! We’re erased from practically everything, so why not?

          • DoraNympha

            Right! I think it was Michael who said on the episode “that doesn’t mean anything” on account of those posters on Sirius’ bedroom wall – that is something I definitely find myself repeating every time there’s some “proof” of a character’s straightness. Doesn’t mean anything… doesn’t mean anything…

      • Huffleclaw

        I’ve been rereading Chamber of Secrets this week and Justin Finch-Fletchly could be read as gay. He spends about a paragraph praising Lockhart! Considering the only characters who see him in any way positive are females that certainly stands out.

    • frumpybutsupersmart

      Not a relationship, but I’ve always considered Dominique Weasley (Bill and Fleur’s second child) to be non-binary. I have no idea why. Also, I love the idea that Newt is asexual.

      Side note: I have always shipped Scorpius and Rose, but the only good thing Cursed Child did was make me ship Scorpius and Albus. I had never considered it before then but I legitimately thought that they would make it canon and was so disappointed when they didn’t.

      • DoraNympha

        Dominique: Cool, why not? (Have we jinxed it now and next up is a musical purely about how Dominique is NOT non-binary?)

        You know, that Scorpius and Rose thing: I’m one of those few that have never been interested in these characters in general, but I think I was just too busy being appalled at the pureblood thing in the epilogue, when Ron says those lines, to think about shipping them for real haha.

        Plus, in the whole epilogue, they’re being so heteronormative in a way that they’re talking about marriage, not just dating but jumping to marriage, when they’re talking about Teddy and Victoire and Rose and Scorpius that I just dismissed all of that. People do that, like, a baby looks vaguely in the direction of another baby and they’re calling him a lady’s man and adults ask kindergarten kids about crushes and stuff, so I didn’t think there was any significance to Ron’s lines, it went over my head so much haha.

        • Penney Fold-Quaffle

          Yes! I loved all seven books but hated the Epilogue and have problems with the storyline and characterization in Cursed Child. And I think you hit the nail on the head when you said the Epilogue was too heteronormative – that’s definitely a big thing, possibly the biggest thing, that bothered me about it. Just about everyone got married and had children from my recollection (sometimes I mix up what was in the Epilogue and what we heard from Jo afterwards). As someone who did not want to get married or have children at the time (and still has no interest in having children and ambivalence towards marriage), it was hard to relate to or identify with the characters as much as I did when they were in school, because the marriage-and-children world was so foreign to both me and my desires. I think for some characters, it made perfect sense, and for others, it disappointed me. I wanted to see a wider variety of choices and futures overall.

          • DoraNympha

            I’m so glad you said that – I’m the same, I mean, I just don’t like marriage itself because I don’t see the point unless it’s for legal reasons like a passport or visitation rights or something. So when in HP someone DOESN’T get married at, like, 20, or about five days after they become a couple, I’m rejoicing. Wizards live even longer – what’s this Jane Austenish idea of JKR’s that characters’ arcs are only fully happy and wrapped up when they’ve got married?! I feel like everyone’s in on some thing that I don’t get. (Not to mention that generations in HP seem to be carbon copies of the previous ones, they go around in circles, which I’m not a fan of either.)

          • ThatTimeRemusWaddiwasiedVoldy

            I fully agree with you. While I am happily married now, at the time of DH’s release I was just on the cusp of leaving college and was definitely in a mindset where the idea of possibly ending up tied down to one partner within a few years, when there was literally an entire world full of potential partners seemed completely insane. The epilogue and it’s whole everyone partnering off with their highschool bf/gf and having kids right away just rubbed me the wrong way. Sure, they all went through some serious stuff together, and that probably forms strong bonds, but for Draco to be the only one that ended up with someone we didn’t already know seemed a bit too forced, especially when you consider that two of the adult married couples we see are also from highschool relationships- Molly/Arthur, James/Lily. The wizarding population may be small, but seriously. I grew up in a tiny town, and several people I went to school with ended up married to eachother. However, very few of those couples actually dated in highschool. Most aren’t even from the same graduating classes, and didn’t have that much interaction during school years. So small pool still doesn’t necessarily make those pairings completely realistic.

            It is also a bit disappointing in that there is almost this message that the ultimate happy ending is to get married and have kids. What about the trio’s success in their careers, despite the trauma they endured? That isn’t the information we get in the epilogue really, it all came later from Jo via Pottermore and interviews. It makes it seem like marriage and reproduction is the only measure of happiness and success. And it is a bit of a slap in the face when you look at it this way, considering the fact that marriage and starting families are things are basic rights that LGBTQIA+ communities around the world still aren’t granted.

          • the head girl

            The only relationship we see in the books where at least one of the participants wasn’t school-aged when they met is Remus and Tonks. I definitely didn’t marry my high school sweetheart (thank goodness), and I can only imagine how things would be if I did.

      • Emily

        I’ve also considered that Dominique may be non-binary, and for me this stems from the fact that their gender has never been explicitly stated by JKR (as far as I know?). I tend to take what JKR says as canon, but since we don’t have a canon answer for this question, and I can’t decide if I imagine Dominique as male or female, I’ve compromised with they idea that perhaps they are gender fluid.

        • frumpybutsupersmart

          You’re right, I don’t think JKR has stated outright that Dominique is a girl or boy, but Dominique is a French name (of course) and its gender is female, I it’s kind of implied. That doesn’t detract from them being nb, of course! I just get very tired of endless fanart of Victoire and Dominique looking like identical, miniature versions of their mother – in my head, Dominique is a redhead and wears Bill’s old leather jacket.

          • Actually, Dominique is gender neutral name in French: https://fr.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dominique (scroll to Prénom where it says “Dominique est un prénom épicène (masculin ou féminin)” – Dominique is an epicene (masculine or feminine) name.)

            I have to admit, I’m guilty of picturing all the Delacour-Weasley children as blonde, but that’s just because I imagine the Veela genes are dominate and might mask other traits, even in this fourth generation of children. I love the thought of Dominique wearing Bill’s old jacket, though!

    • I just had a slightly perverse idea for the most horrible queer ship ever: Dolores Umbridge and Marge Dursley.

      I can perfectly picture them sitting in front of the fireplace in the evening, arguing about who loathes Harry more…

      • DoraNympha

        WHY

        • What can I say? My mind goes to dark and twisted places sometimes…

      • ThatTimeRemusWaddiwasiedVoldy

        HA. Just when you think you’ve heard all the worst possible ships…

      • Soc.forRescueofVanishedAnimals

        But Dolores is a cat person and Marge is a dog person — can their love overcome such a fundamental divide?!

      • Oliv_andra

        OMG cracking up. Umbridge with her tea and Marge with her brandy.

    • the head girl

      Bi Percy and gay Oliver. There’s a teensy bit in Deathly Hallows that could even support it – when Molly corners Harry with a Puddlemere United sock, Harry points out he doesn’t support Puddlemere … but you know who does? Oliver Wood. Who was obviously over at the Burrow visiting Percy sometime prior to book 5 and left a sock, which no one ever found until Molly dug it up.

      #basicallycanon

      Even Percy’s eventual marriage to Audrey doesn’t necessarily contradict it – my preferred headcanon is them in a triad, but even monogamously marrying a woman doesn’t erase Percy’s bisexuality.

      You make some great points about how Percy can be read as queer coded and how it could have added to his story, so once again, points to you!

      • DoraNympha

        Oooh points!

        The mystery of that sock… (ignoring Harry’s traitorous declaration to Molly that he doesn’t support Puddlemere). And Percy does love Quidditch! In CoS, the twins ask him if he wants to play in the summer but he’s too busy writing to Penny haha. With whom he bets on Quidditch with in PoA. And then he jumps up and down, all dignity forgotten, when Gryffindor win the cup. And he says he shudders to think what the state of his in-tray would be if the World Cup final lasted for days. This implies he would choose the match over work. Percy Weasley would absolutely skip work for Quidditch, it’s canon. <3

        I always thought the sock was sent by Oliver just as an attachment to a note after they graduated because he was too elated and emotional to write a coherent letter after being signed by Puddlemere! So Percy got a tearstained napkin saying "I GOT ON" and a pair of team socks.

        I don't know if Percy's one for something like non-monogamy because I think he would keep in mind that he should have a widely acceptable appearance if he wants to be Minister. I think he would want to do the whole get-married-have-kids-live-in-the-suburbs thing. Not saying this would be why they break up, I mean neither of them would want to give up doing 110% in their careers and that's just not ideal or sustainable on the long term. Thus comes Audrey, whoever she is.

        (We all know the real ship here is Wood and the World Cup. I hope it's requited at some point!)

      • DoraNympha

        Also, just another thing, I mean, sports and politics: they wouldn’t be able to get away from the press for a second! So is it an issue or is it not? It does matter in these hypothetical situations! So, is Percy unelectable unless there’s social progress if he’s dating a guy but wants to be Minister? Or is it a downright advantage because everyone loves Quidditch and it would be good for his reputation? It matters, Jo. Tell us.

  • TheViewFromVenus

    (Repost as I was detected as spam)
    As a queer person who is entrenched in fandom, particularly the Harry Potter fandom, this topic has been a heated point of discussion for me. Due to me being caught up in the more Tumblr side of the fandom, I’ve have been experiencing the Harry Potter fandom from a almost sheltered perspective. It’s really interesting for me to place myself among Non-LGBTQIA+ fans and hear the utterly different ways they read the series and it’s characters. For me, personally, I read Harry as Bisexual along with Characters like Sirius. I have always read Lupin, Dumbledore and Gellert as Gay and Luna was always queer in my mind. When I tell this to people I, like you guys mentioned in the episode, gets the response of “You just want everybody to be gay for the sake of diversity.” That is something that always makes my blood boil.
    When it comes to Cursed Child, to which I admittedly read the script and will no doubt-idly never see the play, I was absolutely reading Albus and Scorpius as Queer and it was blowing my mind that so many others were not. This was not subtext, this was blatant. The thing that really got to me about Cursed Child and its Queer baiting is that when I brought up Albus sticking his tongue down his Aunt Hermione’s throat while polyjuiced as his Uncle Ron, not that many people seemed to have any problem with that, but oh boy you mention how you think Albus and Scorpius seem to have something going on between them and there is something wrong with you. It’s frustrating as it is disheartening.
    When it comes to Jo Rowling herself, I’m honestly unsure of what my exact feelings are. I think some people in the fandom give her too much credit and representation points when she has, to this point, not written a queer character that is said to be queer in canon. I mean if J.K. tomorrow writes on twitter that the twins were both Bisexual and had double the fun at the Quidditch after parties are we suppose to applaud her for it?
    All in all the thing that gets me is that giving us representation would not have been that difficult like some people like to pretend it would have been. Take the scene in the Goblet of Fire in the preparation to the Yule Ball after Ron tells Harry that he would have nothing to worry about and that girls would be queuing up to be his date. This is from the chapter The Unexpected Task pg 389,
    “Moreover to Harry’s amazement, he turned out to be quite right. A curly-haired third-year Hufflepuff girl to whom Harry had never spoken in his life asked him to go to the ball with her the very next day.The following day, two more girls asked him, a second year and (to his horror) a fifth year who looked as though she might knock him out if he refused”
    If you simply add another sentence or so mentioning how a few boys asked Harry to the ball as well that would have been spectacular.
    To close, I think you all did an excellent job on this topic and episode. I hope that you all continue viewing Potter critically through this queer lens and I hope someone makes mention of this in the long waited Sirius Black episode.

    • DoraNympha

      Yes, thank you, the Yule Ball, aka every anxiety flashback to heteronormative high school events. We got plenty of irrelevant straight relationships there because it just makes the world real. In the movies, there’s even more forced on us for no reason – the dance in the tent while I thought sweet because I saw no romance in there was in fact intended by Yates as such, not to mention the Nevile/Luna unnecessity.

      Your idea that there could easily have been boys asking Harry out is amazing. That I don’t think would have had real backlash and it would have built the world, which is so important in fantasy. It’s got me wondering where there could be other opportunities.

      And I don’t really know how not to get mad at the idea that Dumbledore’s sexuality was irrelevant and could not possibly have been included in the canon, I mean, what do they think we want? This:

      ““Welcome!” he said. “Welcome to a new year at Hogwarts! Before
      we begin our banquet, I would like to say a few words: I’m gay. Tuck in!”

      or perhaps

      ““Is he — a bit mad?” he asked Percy uncertainly.
      “Mad?” said Percy airily. “He’s a genius! Best wizard in the
      world! But he is a bit mad, yes. And gay! Potatoes, Harry?”

      or why not

      “Which means,” Dumbledore called over the storm of applause, for even Ravenclaw and Hufflepuff were celebrating the downfall of Slytherin, “we need a little change of decoration.”
      He clapped his hands. In an instant, the green hangings became red-orange-yellow-green-blue-purple. “Oopsie daisy! Well, anyway, Gryffindor wins!”

      ?

    • Lisa

      I agree with basically everything you’ve just said. I think one of the problems with people acknowledging the Scorpius/Albus ship is the fact that they’ve shipped Rose with Scorpius since the Epilogue so it came as no surprise to them that the ship sailed in CC. Like I mentioned before on a CC discussion, Scorpius’s interest in Rose does come very early on in the play, right after he meets her actually. Sure, he has more affectionate moments with Albus but it’s not like his romantic interest in Rose is all of a sudden. So I guess I get both sides of the debate.

      I also wonder how male friendships should be written in order for them to not be called queer baiting. I mean Sirius never struck me as gay. Neither did James. Remus has the whole AIDS metaphor going on but other than that he’s more asexual than anything else. I guess it’s hard to write a close and affectionate male friendship which readers won’t interpret as gay. Harry and Ron come to mind here since they’re not widely shipped (even if there are fans who ship them of course). But what exactly makes the Harry/Ron dynamic different than the one between the Marauders? Something I need to ponder on, I guess.

      • For me the main difference between Harry/Ron and James/Sirius is that while both Harry and Ron have crushes on girls, and James is, of course, spellbound by Lily, Sirius never shows interest in anybody other than James:

        With another shock of excitement, Harry saw Sirius give James the thumbs up. […], and a girl sitting behind him [Sirius] was eyeing him hopefully, though he didn’t seem to have noticed. (OotP, Snape’s Worst Memory)

  • Penney Fold-Quaffle

    [Disques marked as spam; trying to re-post]

    Hi all, I’ve been listening to the show for almost a year but quite out of order and not in real time, so this is my first post on the forums! Really loved the nuanced and inclusive episode this week.

    One small correction – a host referred to the possibility of Dumbledore being demisexual but then inferred that this meant attracted to intelligence… I think she meant sapiosexual; this is the term that
    means attracted to intelligence specifically. Demisexual is harder to define but typically refers to a person who is only able to be attracted to someone after there’s a strong emotional connection, and often this leads to feeling attraction much less often than the average person. The two are easy to mix up since I believe both terms caught on around the same time.

    And regardless, Dumbledore could have been either one, or both. He may have rarely been attracted to anyone so the loss and betrayal of Grindelwald struck even deeper. He may have been attracted to Grindelwald’s intelligence, but not all smart people use their brilliance for good. As referenced in the episode, it’s possible JKR meant Dumbledore became celibate when she said asexual. Celibacy is a
    choice; asexuality isn’t. It seems more likely that this is a choice Dumbledore made, as it parallels the choice he made not to seek positions of power. He doesn’t trust himself with the temptations of power or love, and believes that both cloud his judgment.

    As far as Dumbledore’s sexual orientation not being mentioned in the text, it’s possible that JKR was restricted by her publishers, or cowed by her publishers’ wishes, as she was when using initials instead of her full name because they believed some boys might not be as likely to read books written by a female. Jo did say she would have fought the latter if she’d had more power or control at the time of the first book’s publication, and she did not fight the Dumbledore-is-gay exclusion, as far as we know, when it could have been dropped into the 7th book. I do find this odd because I have no doubt Jo has always been supportive of minority rights of all kinds. I think it should have been included in the books, if only a couple lines… because years from now, the Harry Potter books will still be classics, and that won’t be in the text. For example, we don’t remember newspaper articles written in the 1950s and 60s about the Chronicles of Narnia, even if they contained additional info from the author. Any info not in the text itself may be missed by readers, regardless of whether it was reported in news sources at the
    time.

  • Penney Fold-Quaffle

    Who Did and Didn’t Read as LGBTQIA in HP:

    [Disque marked as spam; trying to re-post]

    – I didn’t read Dumbledore as gay when I first read the books in early high school, mainly because I didn’t think much about it (ironically, since I have identified with the LGBTQIA spectrum in the past and still do in one aspect). During my first read, I noticed that Dumbledore and McGonagall both appeared older, alone, and single, and vaguely wondered if they had some affection for each other, but never thought there was anything textually overt to support this. At the time I didn’t have a conception of how old they were in relation to each other (not that age necessarily matters, but it shaped my perception at the time). By the time of the announcement that Dumbledore was gay, I was older and had read the books more than once. I loved the reveal right away and upon rereads do think he reads as gay, but in an ambiguous way. It’s not definitively there in context clues, but there are hints of it. It makes sense textually and adds a lot to the story in my opinion.

    – I DID read Lupin/Sirius as implicitly gay or bi, and interested in each other, on my very first read. I wasn’t even part of online fandom at the time, just enjoying the books with local friends, so I had no idea that other people read them that way too. I always had trouble buying Lupin and Tonks’ relationship because of this… it felt a bit one-sided to me, on Tonks’ end. Lupin seemed to have more chemistry with Sirius. To me there was definitely something between the two guys, whether they were
    gay or bi, or maybe only one was gay/bi and the other wasn’t… but that flavor was there in some capacity. This is especially interesting because as teens, James and Sirius seemed more like best friends than Sirius and Lupin, but James definitely didn’t read as gay to me. I find it possible that Sirius crushed on both James and Lupin… or perhaps he just idolized James, or cared deeply for him as a friend/family. Hard to say with so little textual information. Given the read that Lupin/Sirius have feelings for each other, at least by adulthood, it’s intriguing that they each worried the other was the spy who would betray the Potters as Secret-Keeper. I wonder why they would suspect each other despite such a close bond? Or did it stem from the fear that one of the people they loved best would betray them?

    – Scorpius/Albus read very much like Lupin/Sirius to me, in that the implication was there even though it was never explicitly stated in the text or confirmed outside the text. They have far more chemistry than
    Scorpius/Rose. I feel like a lot of people would have *liked and embraced Cursed Child more* (despite all the storyline and character portrayal problems) if Scorpius and Albus had become a couple! There’s a difference between a “bromance” (like Harry/Ron, Joey/Chandler from Friends, Cory/Shawn from Boy Meets World) with characters I read as straight, and those guys that have something more between them. Scorpius and Albus’s general relationship was fully developed and had a sense of intimacy, whereas Rose wasn’t even developed as a person, and virtually no relationship of any kind developed between Rose and Scorpius during the play.

    – Luna: I never really thought about her as lesbian or bisexual, but also never strongly shipped her with anyone. I think it makes perfect sense for Luna to be bisexual or pansexual, or even asexual or demisexual. I can see her as either very accepting and someone who falls for people, not genders… or as a person who is supportive of others and more interested in friendship than romance and/or sexuality. In the books at least, Luna is one of the few teens who does not appear to be attached to or obsessed with romance or sexuality, which brings a certain sense of detachment to her character, even though she cares about and empathizes with other people in general. However, I’m more inclined to believe that Luna grew into a bisexual/pansexual role by the time she reached full adulthood, as she’s
    very open-minded and original, and I’d expect this to apply to her sexuality as well!

    – I agree with Jo and didn’t read Charlie Weasley as gay, but either as asexual or simply that a relationship, marriage, and/or children weren’t a priority for him; perhaps he had some casual interactions or dated casually. Or perhaps he did want some of those things and they just didn’t work out, but based on Jo’s comments the above possibilities seem to be more likely. Charlie Weasley focusing on dragons and being more passionate about his work with animals makes me think of how Newt might have ended up if he didn’t meet close friends like Tina, Jacob, and Queenie.

    – Harry/Draco: I understand why people pick up on this ship, am amused/entertained by it, and can get on board in a parody way like with AVPM, but don’t see it as canon, more of an alt universe thing, personally. I don’t think there’s a lot of textual support for it (maaaaybe a little on Draco’s end) but I get why people sense the undertone and why they enjoy the ship.

  • frumpybutsupersmart

    I just wanted to make a point about the Scorbus friendship being important to combat toxic masculinity. I’m not arguing that we don’t need deep, meaningful male-male friendships to be represented in fiction (because lord knows we do). I would like to point out that, by making Rose the object of Scorpius’ affection, it contributes to the “wear her down” idea that men have of women; that if you just keep asking, she’ll eventually give in and love you. That idea is super-toxic in itself, and we definitely don’t need more of that in fiction.

    • Penney Fold-Quaffle

      Oh my gosh, yes, that’s a great point. I think there’s a part where he insinuates that she’s weakening, and that’s just… not a good message to send.

    • Michael Harle

      Very much agree with this. Scorpius’ insistence that Rose likes him, coupled with her complete lack of character and purpose by the play’s end, really made this whole interaction between them quite icky to me.

      In addition, I might be so bold as to add . . . what exactly *isn’t* combative to toxic masculinity about two men being able to admit that they might have feelings for one another?

    • DoraNympha

      Aside from a general lack of interest in the new gen until CC, I guess that’s what irks me about Rose and Scorpius. I’m not saying it’s completely like that but it reminds me of pairings built on rivalry (some on actual violence), where the whole reason for a pairing is that there is tension, which is supposedly easy to translate into positive, romantic passion and I just really don’t like those. I think I was bullied to the point in my childhood that I cannot possibly support any ship that starts out with animosity, I’ve just never subscribed to the pulling-your-hair-because-I-like-you thing, I’m just automatically not interested in those pairings. The animosity is one-sided here – doesn’t make it any better for me to like it.

      It would be bad enough, this wear-her-down pairing, but the presence of Albus makes it downright frustrating in a way the authors can’t have considered, even the queerbaiting is too apparent for me to believe it was unintentional. I think that’s what’s disappointing in CC (but then again, what isn’t?): Scorpius clearly has a meaningful, mutually supportive relationship with Albus, but he likes another person who’s kind of just rude and arrogant.

      //Tbh, this just reminds me of everything I don’t understand about monosexuals lol. Why??? Just because she’s a girl? How does that make sense? This is where I feel my limits: I mean, Person A is a real soulmate and Person B is kind of bitchy to you — let’s go for Person B just because they’re of a preferred gender/sex. I’ll never understand this for the life of me, I’m sorry. (Oh, no, the stereotype is true: bisexuals are confused! Yeah, confused at THIS.)//

  • Penney Fold-Quaffle

    (Sorry if you guys can see these – they keep disappearing for me and it says Disques marked as spam.)

    Hi all, I’ve been listening to the show for almost a year but quite out of order and not in real time, so this is my first post on the forums! Really loved the nuanced and inclusive episode this week.

    One small correction – a host referred to the possibility of Dumbledore being demisexual but then inferred that this meant attracted to intelligence… I think she meant sapiosexual; this is the term that
    means attracted to intelligence specifically. Demisexual is harder to define but typically refers to a
    person who is only able to be attracted to someone after there’s a strong emotional connection, and often this leads to feeling attraction much less often than the average person. The two are easy to mix up since I believe both terms caught on around the same time.

    And regardless, Dumbledore could have been either one, or both. He may have rarely been attracted to anyone so the loss and betrayal of Grindelwald struck even deeper. He may have been attracted to Grindelwald’s intelligence, but not all smart people use their brilliance for good. As referenced in the episode, it’s possible JKR meant Dumbledore became celibate when she said asexual. Celibacy is a
    choice; asexuality isn’t. It seems more likely that this is a choice Dumbledore made, as it parallels the choice he made not to seek positions of power. He doesn’t trust himself with the temptations of power or love, and believes that both cloud his judgment.

    • Penney Fold-Quaffle

      As far as Dumbledore’s sexual orientation not being mentioned in the text, it’s possible that JKR was restricted by her publishers, or cowed by her publishers’ wishes, as she was when using initials instead of her full name because they believed some boys might not be as likely to read books written by a female. Jo did say she would have fought the latter if she’d had more power or control at the time of the first book’s publication, and she did not fight the Dumbledore-is-gay exclusion, as far as we know, when it could have been dropped into the 7th book. I do find this odd because I have no doubt Jo has always been supportive of minority rights of all kinds. I think it
      should have been included in the books, if only a couple lines… because years from now, the Harry Potter books will still be classics, and that won’t be in the text. For example, we don’t remember newspaper articles written in the 1950s and 60s about the Chronicles of Narnia, even if they contained additional info from the author. Any info not in the text itself may be missed by readers, regardless of whether it was reported in news sources at the time.

      • DoraNympha

        This is always my hobbyhorse, and I’m glad I’ve got to pick a few people’s minds with this over the past year at presentations and conferences about LGBTQ+ representation at university! I always ask first whether the audience accepts that Dumbledore’s gay. They usually always say yes, of course. But then I ask how many interviews they’ve read from Charles Dickens or Virginia Woolf. Silence usually greets this question, then I make everyone feel better by admitting I have not read a single one either but that that is precisely the point. Dumbledore may be gay now but he won’t be a hundred years from now.

  • Penney Fold-Quaffle

    Who Did and Didn’t Read as LGBTQIA in HP:

    (Disque marked as spam; trying to re-post in chunks)

    I didn’t read Dumbledore as gay when I first read the books in early high school, mainly because I didn’t think much about it (ironically, since I have identified with the LGBTQIA spectrum in the past and still do in one aspect). During my first read, I noticed that Dumbledore and McGonagall both appeared older, alone, and single, and vaguely wondered if they had some affection for each other, but never thought there was anything textually overt to support this. At the time I didn’t have a conception of how old they were in relation to each other (not that age necessarily matters, but it shaped my perception at the time). By the time of the announcement that Dumbledore was gay, I was older and had read the books more than once. I loved the reveal right away and upon rereads do think he reads as gay, but in an ambiguous way. It’s not definitively there in context clues, but there are hints of it. It makes sense textually and adds a lot to the story in my opinion.

    I DID read Lupin/Sirius as implicitly gay or bi, and interested in each other, on my very first read. I wasn’t even part of online fandom at the time, just enjoying the books with local friends, so I had no idea that other people read them that way too. I always had trouble buying Lupin and Tonks’ relationship because of this… it felt a bit one-sided to me, on Tonks’ end. Lupin seemed to have more chemistry with Sirius. To me there was definitely something between the two guys, whether they were
    gay or bi, or maybe only one was gay/bi and the other wasn’t…but that flavor was there in some capacity. This is especially interesting because as teens, James and Sirius seemed more like best friends than Sirius and Lupin, but James definitely didn’t read as gay to me. I find it possible that Sirius crushed on both James and Lupin… or perhaps he just idolized James, or cared deeply for him as a
    friend/family. Hard to say with so little textual information. Given the read that Lupin/Sirius have feelings for each other, at least by adulthood, it’s intriguing that they each worried the other was the spy who would betray the Potters as Secret-Keeper. I wonder why they would suspect each other despite such a close bond? Or did it stem from the fear that one of the people they loved best would betray them?

    Scorpius/Albus read very much like Lupin/Sirius to me, in that the implication was there even though it was never explicitly stated in the text or confirmed outside the text. They have far more chemistry than
    Scorpius/Rose. I feel like a lot of people would have *liked and embraced Cursed Child more* (despite all the storyline and character portrayal problems) if Scorpius and Albus had become a couple! There’s a difference between a “bromance” (like Harry/Ron, Joey/Chandler from Friends, Cory/Shawn from
    Boy Meets World) with characters I read as straight, and those guys that have something more between them. Scorpius and Albus’s general relationship was fully developed and had a sense of intimacy, whereas Rose wasn’t even developed as a person, and virtually no relationship of any kind developed between Rose and Scorpius during the play.

    • Penney Fold-Quaffle

      Luna: I never really thought about her as lesbian or bisexual, but also never strongly shipped her with anyone. I think it makes perfect sense for Luna to be bisexual or pansexual, or even asexual or demisexual. I can see her as either very accepting and someone who falls for people, not genders… or as a person who is supportive of others and more interested in friendship than romance and/or sexuality. In the books at least, Luna is one of the few teens who does not appear to be attached to or obsessed with romance or sexuality, which brings a certain sense of detachment to her character, even though she cares about and empathizes with other people in general. However, I’m more inclined to believe that Luna grew into a bisexual/pansexual role by the time she reached full adulthood, as she’s very open-minded and original, and I’d expect this to apply to her sexuality as well!

      I agree with Jo and didn’t read Charlie Weasley as gay, but either as asexual or simply that a relationship, marriage, and/or children weren’t a priority for him; perhaps he had some casual interactions or dated casually. Or perhaps he did want some of those things and they just didn’t work out, but based on Jo’s comments the above possibilities seem to be more likely. Charlie Weasley focusing on dragons and being more passionate about his work with animals makes me think of how Newt might have ended up if he didn’t meet close friends like Tina, Jacob, and Queenie.

      Harry/Draco: I understand why people pick up on this ship, am amused/entertained by it, and can get on board in a parody way like with AVPM, but don’t see it as canon, more of an alt universe thing, personally. I don’t think there’s a lot of textual support for it but I get why people sense the undertone and why they enjoy the ship.

      • ThatTimeRemusWaddiwasiedVoldy

        I distinctly remember reading Deathly Hallows, particularly at the point of the letter from Dumbledore to Grindlewald and that whole story, and wondering if there was more to the Dumbledore/Grindelwald relationship than just friendship. There was some confusion there when that theory didn’t come to anything within the text, but then I once I heard about JK’s statement that Dumbledore was indeed gay in her mind, I wasn’t the least bit surprised. It just made sense to me. But it was also disappointing.If it’s true, why not make it clear?

        I didn’t pickup on any of the other queercoding in the series though, except a bit for Lupin. The thing is, being non-queer, I think reading into those elements can sometimes feel a bit wrong. Not in the sense of queerness being wrong, but in the sense that it doesn’t feel like it is my place to attach those lables to characters, like I’m somehow catering to stereotypes, ie “Lockhart is flamboyant and likes hair product? Must be gay!” That sort of thing, if that makes sense? Which is part of why it is so important that authors shoulder the responsibility of ACTUALLY representing queer characters as queer.

        That said, one character I did read as gay until later on was Tonks. Though I think that it has less to do with any queercoding written into the character and more to do with the fact that she reminded me so strongly of a real woman in my life who just happened to be strikingly similar to Tonks (fun personality, ever changing hair color, crazy clumsy) but also was a lesbian. That’s part of why, like Michael, I wasn’t sold on the Tonks/Lupin relationship. This badass woman suddenly pining and moping over a man just didn’t sit well and felt like a vast departure from the character as I had come to understand her. Plus the fact that we see more examples of intimacy and expressions of affection between Sirius and Lupin, than we ever do between Lupin and Tonks, at least on Lupin’s end.

        • Phoenix

          I agree with you on the stereotype thing. This is definitely a problem. I remember one of the early epidoes of Mugglenet Academia, where the hosts argued that Hagrid might be gay because he wears a flowered apron, has a pink umbrella, enjoys cooking and knitting and cares for baby animals. That rubbed me the wrong way, not because Hagrid can’t be gay but because those accessories and hobbies don’t indicate that.
          Michael also briefly touched on this when mentioning fan fiction about the Quidditch girls.

          I’m not saying there is anything wrong with turning to characters who don’t conform to gender stereotypes when looking for queer readings – on the contrary. But it would be just as great to have, say, a gay Viktor Krum.

          • DoraNympha

            I agree so much, I really didn’t like the Academia episode either, precisely because of this. It’s just that it’s a lot of grasping at straws when trying to find queer characters in stories where there’s nothing explicit and I think it’s understandable to have to go on stereotypes sometimes. (As soon as someone likes the colour lavender in movies made during the Hays Code, that’s deliberate indication, with a stereotype as a signpost – hopefully writers are more evolved than that nowadays). Not in the sense that Lockhart’s into hair products or Hagrid uses a pink umbrella but rather in more complex and subtle conventions of queer coding, though.

            (I actually think the Quidditch girls give us no clues at all, in fact, they’re quite girly and they giggle about Cedric and stuff but sometimes you just don’t need reasons. Just go with it… I just want that for no reason… 😀 )

          • Phoenix

            Oh, it’s completely understandable to look for these traits, because what else can we look for? But I think it’s always a bit of a dilemma.

            I think what annoys me about discussions like that one on Hagrid is that they seem to confuse gender expression and sexuality. I completely agree that Hagrid challenges male stereotypes: he is a huge, strong, hairy man who cries easily, is good at comforting his friends and refers to himself as a baby dragon’s “mommy”. Those are traits that are generally seen as female, but displaying some traits associated with a different gender is obviously not the same as homosexuality. That assumption narrows down the discussion, and that’s the opposite of what we want (and what the podcast and everyone on this page is doing).

          • Phoenix

            Oh, and I also agree that there aren’t any real hints concerning the Quidditch girls. I don’t think Michael said there were, either, just that there is a general stereotype about girls and ball sports which is often applied here. It’s great to include them into this discussion without a reason, because why shoudn’t queer girls be girly and giggle. In fact, if there is one case in which I have no trouble believing that the magical world is less prejudiced than the muggle world, it’s Quidditch. Nobody seems to think it’s a boys’ thing — which might give us even less of a reason to include the girls on the team in this, but then again, it’s no reason against it, either.

          • DoraNympha

            Absolutely! I mean, can we talk about how fantastic it is that THE sport of the wizarding world is not gender-divided? Even if the wizarding and muggle worlds parallel each other in terms of homophobia, even if sport is one of those areas where it’s still rare to come out, this wouldn’t be an issue in Quidditch! <3

          • I love the idea of gay Krum, especially since top athletes still can’t be anything but straight, manly men in our world.

            Besides, I think I’d really like that stupid little beard of his. 😉

          • Lisa

            Aside from the problematic aspect of regarding “feminine” men as necessarily gay, why would they believe Hagrid is gay as he was clearly romantically interested in Maxine? I’m not saying gay people never have relationships with people of the opposite sex but for a book character that’s a bit odd. If the author saw him as gay she wouldn’t have invented a straight romance for him.

          • Phoenix

            To be fair, I listened to that discussion years ago and I probably don’t remember every aspect of the argument or how central it was to the episode. It’s probably still online, it was one of their first 5 episodes. It might be worth listening to it again, since I might not be doing it justice.

            But yeah… JKR certainly didn’t intentionally write Hagrid that way, I’m glad we can all agree on that. :)

        • Phoenix

          P. S. I also agree with you on Tonks.

        • Rosmerta

          Agree with all your points there, including the Remus /Tonks relationship. I understand that JKR wanted to create a parallel with Harry’s situation i.e. creating an orphan through war, but that orphan being brought up in a loving family environment (indicated in the epilogue) but this could have been done with another partnership (though none spring to mind) I really didn’t buy Tonks weakened personality of unrequited love, compare her wobbly patronus to Snape’s Doe of 16/17 years!

          • ThatTimeRemusWaddiwasiedVoldy

            Yeah, perhaps Bill and Fleur could have been the alternative, though of course that would have been extra devastation for the Weasleys. I’m not sure I’d have been ok with that, either.

            Interesting point about the patronus. I wonder if Snape’s patronus ever did appear similarly weak or if he struggled to produce it for a time. If so, then it seems extra jerkish of him to make commentary on Tonks. If not, then what does that say about each of them? That Snape has more emotional strength of will? Or maybe that Tonks’ love is more genuine or deeply rooted? The latter is harder to buy, as again, we NEVER see any actual displays of affection from Tonks towards Lupin until she’s begging him in front of everyone after Dumbledore dies.

          • Lisa

            I actually like Lupin/Tonks for some reason. I like that it’s a complicated relationship because of his issues and the implication that sometimes love isn’t enough for a relationship to work. The relationship should have been fleshed out better but I think there is some potential there. JKR is not very good at writing romance but R/T actually managed to interest me. BUT there are no excuses for HBP!Tonks. None whatsoever. It’s ridiculous (and sexist!) that she should lose her special abilities just because of unrequited love.

          • ThatTimeRemusWaddiwasiedVoldy

            Yeah, as an idea, I really do like Lupin/Tonks as well, because I do think that there is a reality to the issue of him being a werewolf and the complications that would bring to his relationships, particularly a romantic one. Like you said though, it’s just that we get no real build up or development of the love side of that relationship. It’s just “Oh yeah, by the way, this whole time they’ve been falling for eachother, and now it’s a serious and tragic issue.” Like, yeah, but hell, it would have been nice to see them actually talk to eachother for more than one half-conversation where she literally just tells him her name preference, when he is really just adressing Harry. The potential is definitely there.

            I will forever sideye Tonks letting the fact that Lupin won’t be with her ( for arguably noble and understandable reasons) causea her to be so distraught that her magic weakens in a time of war when HER JOB is to be one of the first lines of defense. And I love Tonks, but the older I get, the less happy I am with this line of narrative, I’ve realized.

        • DoraNympha

          As a person who enjoys a work of fiction, I think it’s absolutely your place to entertain whatever readings you wish! :))

          Yeah, well, it was Pottermore that made me like the actual relationship and now I like reading the “See??? She doesn’t care!!!” part in HBP, but part of me deep down still can’t effin believe Jo paired off the two literal queerest characters in the series and I may joke about it outwardly but I’m seriously baffled by it in my heart of hearts… I think it’s just that there were so many other characters that could have been paired up and killed in the eleventh hour in a story with hundreds of named characters, it didn’t need to be Lupin and Tonks is all. It does read like an afterthought, which is a disservice to both characters, who are much loved by fandom respectively. But, I mean, come on, the one person Lupin falls in love with happens to be the shapeshifter person? Not the straightest thing he did.

          • ThatTimeRemusWaddiwasiedVoldy

            Thank you for saying that. It’s just one of those things, where because being queer is not my personal experience, it can sometimes be difficult to judge if I’m doing the right thing, in the right way, for the right reasons. By attributing gayness to various characters, I often have to question if I’m doing so in a way that reflects positively or would be agreed with by people who actually do identify as LGBTQIA+. There is always insight there that I, coming from a place of relative privilege, just won’t automatically have.

            The Pottermore info did help me accept the Lupin/Tonks relationship a bit better too. It at least gave evidence that while it didn’t happen on page, there were moments of closeness and intimacy between them, that it wasn’t this out of the blue thing where Tonks was suddenly repeatedly declaring her love to Lupin while he repeatedly rejected it. I think the important thing with the Pottermore information is that it informs us that they had developed a mutual bond and attraction, before it became a discussion.

            Before this episode I hadn’t considered the possibility of Tonks as gender-fluid, but I really like that idea. I can completely subscribe to the notion of Lupin’s sexuality being more open ended and Tonks being totally down with exploring that.

  • Roonil Wazlib

    (Disqus marked this as spam so I’m reposting–seems like this is happening to a lot of ppl all of a sudden?)

    I agree with the idea that Dumbledore as a character was a very private person who probably would not have been forthcoming about his sexuality, and that this is an okay reason for why he never comes out in the text. (However I do believe this info could’ve come to us through Rita Skeeter or the Kings Cross chapter.) The problem here, is that Dumbledore is the ONLY confirmed queer character in the series. If there were other queer characters, then Dumbledore choosing to keep his sexuality more private would not be such a big deal. And herein lies the problem with having only one [of any minority or oppressed group] in a story. It puts that character in the unfair and unrealistic position of having to represent every aspect of that identity for everyone. It does not give them the freedom to be just one individual among many, each with their own unique story to tell.

    Take, for example, the women of the Harry Potter books. We get to see so many different kinds of women with different personalities, strengths, appearances, etc. Some of them are kind and good, and some of them are varying levels of evil. The number and variety of women in the books allows us to see them as an individual, rather than being the one character that represents all women.

    Dumbledore’s queerness and how it’s represented is not really a positive story, which isn’t necessarily bad–those stories do exist in real life. The problem is that he is the only queer character. So a series that’s so focused on love ends up telling us that straight people can fall in love and get married, but all queer people get their hearts broken and then never even try to find love again.

    • Lisa

      In my opinion, there is no gay character in the HP series because authorial statements outside the books are not canon. There are hints that Dumbledore might have had feelings for Grindelwald just like there are hints between Sirius and Lupin or Sirius and James. But there is no canonically gay/queer character in the HP series unless Fantastic Beasts features a clear romantic relationship (even if it is one sided) between Dumbledore and Grindelwald.

      • Roonil Wazlib

        Yeah this is a great point, I definitely understand your thinking. Especially as the books age and are enjoyed by younger generations, there’s no guarantee that any or all future readers will have access to JKR’s extratextual info.

      • ThatTimeRemusWaddiwasiedVoldy

        I like to think that eventually, society will progress to a point where queerness is no longer othered, that relationships of all sorts will not only be recognized and accepted, but also be visible and included as a part of a “normal” and healthily functioning society. If that future reality ever exists, I wonder how relationships like Dumbledore/Grindelwald will be read. In a society where heteronormativity isn’t treated as the standard, would people be more likely to read a relationship like that as gay, without it having to be overtly stated? And in that case, if people tend to agree upon that reading overall, does that in turn shape what is considered canon? I don’t really know, just pondering, as I think time and context definitely change how literature is interpreted. Right now we exist in a society that assumes heteronormativity until stated otherwise, though hopefully with through these kinds of discussions that is changing. But under those assumptions it is very easy to say that canonically there are no gay characters, because none are explicitly stated or shown to be. But in the context of a society that makes no assumptions about those things, does the matter become more or less ambiguous? A character like Dumbledore isn’t specifically stated to be gay, but also isn’t specifically stated to be straight, so it is entirely an unknown that is open for interpretation in which a gay reading is legitimate, even without JK’s outside confirmation. I don’t know, it’s interesting to think about.

        But either way the thing is, the first step in actually getting to a point where heteronormativity isn’t the standard assumption, is actually writing diverse characters and making them visible within the fictional world. And I think as soon as any writer makes themself a voice for equality and representation outside of their writing, they have a responsibility to include it within their writing as well. If not, they are nothing but hypocrites. Whatever her reasons for not including a canonically gay character in the original series, she has a chance now to put her pen where her mouth is with Fantastic Beasts, and I really hope she doesn’t disappoint.

  • FatOldFart

    JK Rowling is 52 years old same as me. When we grew up homosexuality was not only taboo it was also illegal in most states and that n England. While I can applaud her on her gay rights stand that she takes now I can understand her caution when telling the stories. Most of you are too young to realize that homosexuality was like the kiss of death in the 60s 70s and 80s. If she had outed Dumbledore in the story I am not so sure that the books would have been as popular as they were at that time. I don’t see where it had a place in a kids story anyway. Also if a headmaster would have been knowingly homosexual even if the wizarding world accepted it in the 50s he would have been treated just like Lupin. Harry Potter was and is supposed to be children’s literature. If you want a romance story gay or straight this is not the book series for you. Maybe she could have had gay characters in Casual Vacancy of the Strike series as those books are for an older audience. I hope I haven’t offended anyone but I thought an older person’s perspective would be helpful.

    • Lisa

      So you’re basically saying that straight romances and even sexual innuendos are okay in children’s books but gay characters would be too mature? DH came out in 2007, it’s not like there wasn’t any pop culture which featured gay couples at the time. DH is also categorized as an YA book not a children’s book as the characters are teenagers. YA literature does feature gay couples quite frequently even in 2007.
      To say that the people who criticize Rowling for her lack of diversity are looking for a gay romance book is missing the point. Gay characters should be part of the mainstream not isolated to queer literature or culture. JKR already hinted at Dumbledore ‘s feelings for Grindelwald in King’s Cross. All she needed to do was take it one step further.

      • FatOldFart

        What I am suggesting is that JK is a champion for LGBT because it is a safe and risk free environment for her now. There were hints in the books but now that she has earned 100s of millions of dollars in book sales and movie rights, she has absolutely nothing to lose at this point. If you want a true hero who risked it all for her beliefs stick to Ellen Degeneres.

        Plus the books were written from Harry’s point of view and you must agree that he was pretty dense about a lot of things. If Colin Creevy slept with Harry’s picture under his pillow I doubt that Harry would have had the first clue as to why. How does one forget to look for the horcrux right after he tells Mcgonagle that there is something in the castle that he needs to find?

        • Lisa

          Of course it’s safe for her now but wouldn’t that make her a hypocrite? Why is she lecturing people for being homophobic on twitter if she didn’t have the guts to write a queer character?

          Also Harry being dense is not a good argument. A reveal during King’s Cross would have nothing to do with how perceptive Harry is. Dumbledore was already telling him almost everything about himself and Grindelwald. Almost. All JKR needed to do was to add one line like “I had feelings for him, Harry, and I was blinded by them.”

        • Slughorn’s Trophy Wife

          It’s hardly fair to compare JKR to Ellen Degeneres. Ellen is gay, so it was personal for her. JKR is not. I’m not saying JKR did the right thing, but you’re comparing apples to oranges.

    • DoraNympha

      Thanks for the insight! If I may add some pros and cons:

      It would have hindered the books’ distribution greatly, public opinion was a lot worse in the ’90s and publishers and marketing bodies are always more conservative than the actual audience, because, well, money. However, homosexual practises had been very much legal since 1967 in England and Wales, 1980 in Scotland, 1982 in N. Ireland, 1993 in the Republic of Ireland, so there was no actual legal obstruction against representation at the time Jo was writing the books.

      I guess that’s my main frustration with fiction coming out even today: people still write as if they could go to prison for sympathetic or realistic representation of LGBTQ+ lives even in the absence of censorship. For a long time in books and films, this was the case: depictions of queer characters that were not villainized or had happy endings would have been legally an act of recommending crime. This was serious and should not be ignored and I do think my generation tends to be ignorant about this.

      But isn’t it down to the most successful, financially stable authors, creators, publishers to challenge that? They aren’t threatened by bankruptsy in case there is too much backlash, I mean.

      I do think some younger readers disregard how much harder everything was only a couple of decades ago, let alone before the late ’60s. However, HP depicts a lot of themes that I doubt we should ladle to kids so heavyhandedly, such as torture, death, grief, pain, trauma, murder, or genocide. Compared to that, the inclusion of romantic/sexual subtext or text should be seen as less of a risky thing, and there are a fair few sexual points in HP. I mean, Fleur and Roger Davies sneak out to the rose bushes, Fred and George just sort of respectively disappear with some Veela cousins at the wedding reception, there are even unconsentual acts such as Merope’s or Romilda’s love potion use on Riddle and Ron respectively, there are countless opposite-sex pairings throughout all books totally irrelevant to the plot, we even open the secret passage door to Ginny and Dean snogging, and then there’s this (Deathly Hallows, ch. 8):

      ““Yes, my tiara sets off the whole thing nicely,” said Auntie Muriel in a rather carrying whisper. “But I must say, Ginevra’s dress is far too low cut.”
      Ginny glanced around, grinning, winked at Harry, then quickly faced the front again. Harry’s mind wandered a long way from the marquee, back to afternoons spent alone with Ginny in lonely parts of the school grounds.”

      To put it lewdly, Harry Potter got some. It’s canon.

      I’m 26, I don’t blame Rowling for not having written anything at the time about queer relationships, though I can only imagine what it was like before that time, but I do feel that comprared to what is actually in the books about both straight sexuality and love and about actual should-be-risqué topics surrounding death and torture, a few hints of representation at least would not have been entirely impossible and real representation is definitely not impossible moving forward into the universe in the future, such as in more instalments of the Fantastic Beasts series. I don’t know how young is too young to read about love/sexuality but I know for sure that that age should not be different in the case of different sexual orientations. This comes from a long struggle to equalize the age of consent, and the association with paedophiles, it’s just something we should do away with once and for all. All the more reason for children’s stories to have representation, right?

      • FatOldFart

        I don’t think it could be included in the fantastic beasts series as that occurred in the time that Rowling admits that it wasn’t acceptable in the wizard or muggle worlds. You could not expose yourself in the 30s and 40s without fear of imprisonment and possible chemical castration as was the case with war hero Alan Turing who created a machine to break the German enigma code and turned the tide of WWII. If you want an example of how gay people safely maneuvered around the issue to see if they were speaking to one of their own rewatch “Half Blood Prince” when Dumbledore says “I notice you spend a lot of time with Hermione Grainger. How’s that workout no out for you?” I am going to copy and paste this to the other responders so bear with me if this isn’t part of your comment. This story was written from Harry’s point of view. He lived in a closet until he was ten years old and I’m sure that Aunt Petunia and Uncle Vernon did not discuss homosexuality as part of their “normal” lives. Unless Harry got a leaping feeling in the pit of his stomach from looking at another boy I don’t think he would have noticed homosexuality for what it was or is having had no previous exposure. Dumbledore didn’t so much as reveal to him that he grew up in Goodrich’s Hollow so I am pretty sure he wouldn’t have let out anything as personal as sexual preference. And forgive me for saying this but Harry is about the dumbest story hero I have ever seen in any book series. A blatant example of this is the fact that he forgot that Mcgonagal and the others were securing the castle so that he could find something that Dumbledore wanted him to destroy. “Potter isn’t there something you are supposed to be looking for?” “Oh yeah I forgot.” I would not be a bit surprised that if someone told him that Colin Creevy slept with Harry’s picture under his pillow or if Harry witnessed a sweaty and out of breath Flitwick emerging from Dumbledore’s office that he would have had any understanding whatsoever what was going on. And one other tidbit I can throw out there. JK Rowling was not a champion of the LGBT+ community until months after the release of the final book when she had no worries of lost revenue. If you really want a hero to rally around, stick with Ellen Degeneres. She took a stand for gay rights when it wasn’t acceptable and at the time ruined her career. Not only was her show cancelled but her “lover” Anne Heche threw her under a bus by claiming that she was really straight and was only experimenting.

        • DoraNympha

          Harry doesn’t notice anything, that’s true. I understand that JKR was probably wiser not to put it in the canon text. She can, however put it into Fantastic Beasts. First of all, it’s 2017, it’s fine, but also, it’s fantasy, she can do whatever the hell she wants, I mean, American wizards have a black president for MACUSA while Muggles still segregate, but the main reason is this: queer life was flourishing before decriminalization despite the cloud of illegality.

          Also, careful, we don’t actually know if the Muggle and Wizarding worlds parallel each other after all because Jo has kind of changed her mind. But even if they have been similar in terms of legislation and public opinion indeed, it’s got no force as an argument against representation in further HP stories now whenever they’re set because illegality and persecution were often more just frustrating than effective in eradicating queer people living their queer lives.

          I’ve spent years researching British queer history becuase fictional narratives are wildly inaccurate no matter the setting or medium. And I can say: yes, it was unspeakable, unacceptable, illegal (acts, not BEING gay, and only for men), but what it wasn’t was nonexistent. Drugs are illegal today, do people do drugs? Yes, they do and there are plenty of films and books about it.

          It’s due to a heritage of strict censorship precisely why we today tend to believe falsely that being gay, acting on it, and even maintaining relationships before decriminalization were impossible. It’s simply a misconception cohorted retrospectively by period drama writers who copy off one another, follow the same outdated fictional conventions rooted in predecriminalization censorship, and perpetuate the myth that just because the cloud of illegality loomed over gay men before the ’60s, they never ever did anything, that if they had done so they went straight to prison or electroshock therapy or castration, or committed suicide out of some inherent Gay Sadness.

          No.

          This is because of unrealistic, historically inaccurate representation. Precisely a reason for fiction writers to do better now. I encourage everyone, instead of watching The Imitation Game and Downton Abbey, to read Matt Houlbrook’s Queer London: Perils and Pleasures in the Sexual Metropolis, 1918-1957, or Helen Smith’s Masculinity, Class and Same-Sex Desire in Industrial England, 1895-1957. There are numerous accounts of queer relationships relatively openly both in urban and rural areas, which went unpunished either by villagers bashing them or by the police. In fact, even with Turing, who called the police on himself becuase of the burglary, was handled by policemen who were uncomfortable and reluctant to deal with a crime they saw as something distasteful rather than real and basically just a waste of time next to robberies and murder cases. There were bigger strikedowns with larger publicity: Wilde, Maud Allan v. Noel Pemberton Billing, the Eulenberg Affair, the Montagu case, but there were also Edward Carpenter living just fine with his partner George Merrill, their house a safe haven for likeminded ‘Uranians’.

          It’s precisely the lack of representation that has created this false myth. The generalizing assumption that all gay men had to have the same tortured and lonely experience and were all inevitably discovered and promptly sent to prison for the slightest of transgressions fails even at the claim that they expressed their gender and sexuality in the same way and makes the mistake of disregarding a notoriously divided British society in which place, age, ethnicity and especially class were much more significant factors than sexuality. You don’t have to believe me, believe E. M. Forster, Christopher Isherwood, Siegfried Sassoon, Wilfred Owen, Jeremy Wolfenden, Brian Desmond Hurst, Edward Carpenter and George Merrill, Gertrude Stein, indeed most of the Bloomsbury Group, whom I would raise as real heroes instead of Ellen (who only really matters to Americans, tbh).

          My problem is this: W. H. Auden had to censor the unspeakable topic out of his poems such as “Lullaby” in 1937, and despite legalization having happened decades beforehand, George Michael, whose career also suffered for a while after being outed, had to censor himself the same exact way in the lyrics of “Jesus to a Child” in 1996.

          The problem is precisely the absence of representation, which now shouldn’t be an issue because there is no recommendation of crime by law if one writes queer stories for reasons other than to torture and kill gay characters. Hasn’t been for DECADES. The common conventions or subtext, erasure, negative portrayal, narrative punisment had been necessitated by actual illegality under the Sexual Offences Act and the Labouchere Amendment paired with Obscenity Laws. NONE of which have been in effect for decades on homosexuality in fiction. I’m sorry to be such an insufferable know-it-all but I want to protect queer people, famous or not, who lived around 100+ years ago because it breaks my heart that their stories weren’t told at the time because they could not possibly be told without breaking the law, but now they won’t be if we keep assuming mistakenly in hindsight that there WERE no stories to tell. There absolutely were. And now they are free to be told. I don’t look to JKR as a champion of gay rights, she isn’t, and I’m on the side of those defending her not writing about Dumbledore’s love for Grindelwald in the seven novels,, but she’s authoring the scripts for Fantastic Beasts that has just cast Jude Law as Dumbledore and she has teased us about his sexuality featuring as part of the plot, where relevant I assume. Of course I’m expectant and why shouldn’t I be? It’s not only possible to write about predecriminalization queer stories but I believe an obligation. We must be the ones to tell their stories and make their presence known properly now that we can. But even if that’s too demanding or entitled, at the very least we must do away with the incredibly false misconception that there are no stories to tell from before decriminalization. This is the product of historically inaccurate representation. This needs to end, like, yesterday. I cannot stress it enough.

          So, to put it shortly after being carried away (I DID get carried away sorry): Yes, Fantastic Beasts is set in 1920s-1930s New York and then Paris and London and who knows where. Each of these places had their own queer communities and scenes, regardless of whether it was illegal or not. Clubs were raided but they existed and reopened. The Criterion after 10 pm turned into a gay bar. There were no criminal laws in France and a number of continental countries we might go to. Berlin was the San Francisco of the 1930s. Even if the wizarding world parallels the illegality, the difference is that a story written today set in those times can absolutely depict anything.

          • ThatTimeRemusWaddiwasiedVoldy

            *claps*
            Are we still doling out house points? This gets like, 100.

          • DoraNympha

            I’m always up for points haha. #RavenclawPride

            I’m just going to leave this here too:

            “A happy ending was imperative. I shouldn’t have bothered to write otherwise. I was determined that in fiction anyway two men should fall in love and remain in it for the ever and ever that fiction allows, and in this sense Maurice and Alec still roam the greenwood. I dedicated it “To a Happier Year” and not altogether vainly. Happiness is its keynote – which by the way has had an unexpected result: it has made the book more difficult to publish. Unless the Wolfenden Report becomes law, it will probably have to remain in manuscript. If it ended unhappily, with a lad dangling from a noose or with a suicide pact, all would be well, for there is no pornography or seduction of minors. But the lovers get away unpunished and consequently recommend crime.”

            – E. M. Forster in his 1960 end notes to Maurice

            Isn’t that Happier Year… today?

          • Soc.forRescueofVanishedAnimals

            Thought sparked by your excellent historical context: The period during which Dumbledore actually fell in love with Grindlewald was circa 1899. Dumbledore is worldly and well-read, and would likely have been aware of the Wilde trials (wasn’t De Profundis published a couple years prior? Were the trials reported on in newspapers? I cannot claim your expertise, so please correct/inform me). It’s interesting to think how that may have affected him, possibly even his views on Muggles.

          • DoraNympha

            Ohhh man, it would absolutely be that time, Edwardian England! He’s just a generation older than Wilde, and actually, Dumbledore’s age would set him as a contemporary of the Bloomsbury Group and I’m sure he would be aware of such an influential bunch of authors and artists. It’s kind of lovely to think their paths would have crossed while he was on his way to Diagon Alley haha.

            If you want authentic views on queer life after the big scandal that was Wilde’s case, I recommend finding the edition of Maurice by E. M. Forster that was edited by Philip Gardner: it has all his correspondence with people like Siegfried Sassoon and Christopher Isherwood and Edward Carpenter and Lytton Strachey, who read the first drafts of this then-unpublishable book and shared their critiques back and forth! Interestingly, they all approved of the happy ending and everything queer in it but they had a problem with the realism of the class difference of two characters. That’s what mattered to them as a potential obstacle to a relationship, not the fact that it was illegal for two men to go to hotels and then run off into the greenwoods. (And yet, there are many period stories of couples finding love over class divides, not so many of queer couples before legalization.)

            This was also the time of great new ideas, revolutions, stuff that people genuinely believed in in a way we can’t grasp today (we’re much more cynical about politics today), and interestingly, Carpenter’s The Intermediate Sex (1908) suggested that queer people (“uranians”) would lead the world to gender equality or sexual liberation. Stuff like the Wilde trials and the Eulenburg affair happened but it was also the pre-WWI world where people could disappear into anonymity if they really wanted to, the loss of which was lamented by Forster, too (and try that nowadays lol). Even Wilde could just disappear to Italy and France and be left alone under a fake name.

            There’s also Pat Barker’s Regeneration series, which is based on medical records of the war poets, with snippets in there about how the war propaganda encouraged camaraderie but in a strictly straight sense. Actually, Sassoon here says he thought things were getting better since the Wilde trials and his doctor agrees but says it’s not likely that any change would be maintained in wartime. It just wasn’t on people’s minds all the time. Interesting that the libel case was repeated with the Salome dancer Maud Allan, who was accused of indecency by MP Noel Pemberton Billing, to the point where she took it to court exactly like Wilde did Queensberry, and then lost the case when Lord Alfred Douglas, Bosie himself, testified against her (an extreme moment of his later wanting to distance himself form the Wilde scandal). Fun fact for Potter fans once again: Jude Law played Bosie in the 1997 film version against Stephen Fry’s Wilde! When I heard he would play Dumbledore, I had to sit down for a second because all I could think about was this. Jude Law, though not queer himself, has had a reputation of sorts because of roles he’s played, his casting as Dumbledore is not uninformed by this, I’d bet a bag of Galleons on it.

            De Profundis was indeed written during Wilde’s imprisonment and Robbie Ross published it in 1905 but he tweaked it from references to real people involved at the time – the real full version was published in the sixties. It was absolutely reported in the papers, across the world (there are free news archives even on google.news where I’ve found columns reporting of his first month in prison in some Canadian gazette too, not to mention reports about what his wife Constance was doing etc.).

            Does this affect Dumbledore in any way, who knows? Muggles affected Dumbledore’s life greatly through Ariana and his father’s revenge on them, I think it’s plausible to say that Dumbledore would have been very aware of this happening, or very aware of having to live in hiding because of Muggles, though that’s not to say he would have felt the need to hide or feel shamed himself when it came to his sexuality. I think he did that because he was secretive about everything in general. I think he was also just preoccupied with his research, his great plan for the Greater Good and the regret of it. If anything, being concerned about the Wilde case would have been just another reason for him to go with the (not entirely stupid imo) ideas of Grindelwald’s. You can’t just sit by and let Muggles do these things, right? Wars, famine, lack of sanitation, lack of medicine for all sorts of diseases: all those things Muggles were still struggling with but could have easily been solved by magic! If only it didn’t prompt some of them to turn violent out of fear of the unknown that is magic… But they’re imprisoning people for so much as “gross indecency” now! We have to interfere, Gellert!

            I’m not an expert, nor am I 120+ years old or a time traveler but I’d say if the wizarding world paralleled the Muggle one in terms of public opinion at least, Dumbledore would have just taken it for granted that he would have to live and love in secrecy but if he had wanted to he could have regardless of the law or society. He’s a wizard, which also helps. If the wizarding world doesn’t regard this as an issue, then he would have been free to do whatever he wanted, only I’d need a huge explanation to why some guy he knew for one summer could have left such an enormous mark on him that he would just stay away from catching feelings for anyone else for the rest of his life.

          • Soc.forRescueofVanishedAnimals

            You are an insufferable know-it-all and I love it, haha! Really, thanks for the suggestions and thoughts. I definitely should have said “written,” not “published,” of course. But I do think observing what others were going through in the Muggle world would have struck at Dumbledore’s sense of justice (though not as severely what the Muggle boys did to Ariana), even if he knew it wouldn’t personally affect his ability to live openly if he chose. He was definitely in a self-centered phase, though, resenting the way his family was holding him back from his aspirations, so maybe it was less a matter of being inspired to change the world for the better and more just grasping for reasons to justify going along with Grindlewald’s plans.

            I think depends on each person’s past and how we individually experience love, but I completely understand characters like Dumbledore and Snape who have one love and then become afraid to have a different experience for various reasons. I don’t think it’s necessarily the case that Dumbledore never had feelings for anyone else, but that he suppressed any feelings immediately and didn’t allow his heart to open to them, because he didn’t trust himself in love. Also, it was a sort of self-abnegation for both of those characters. I am not sure if he became asexual, as Jo suggested, or if he chose to remain single. Either is possible, but it sort of bothers me that either of those alternatives is positioned in this case as almost like settling, or a result of fear, when these are totally valid and satisfying ways to be. (Like when you are happily single, but people keep asking if (or saying behind your back) you’re afraid to be in a relationship.) I think Dumbledore was ultimately very content with his life, albeit with regrets, which anyone who has really lived is bound to have!

            P.S. I actually have a recommendation for you! You might be interested in — if you’re not already familiar with his work — Kevin Ohi’s research. He’s at Boston College, and he’s into aestheticism and all that late-Victorian stuff. I loved his class, Queer Literary Traditions, which explores the queerness of literary transmission and the transmission of knowledge. This is the topic of his latest book, Dead Letters Sent, which I’ve yet to read, but it will describe the concept much more clearly than I can :)

          • DoraNympha

            Ohh thank you for the recommendation! Checking it out right now and feeling envious that you took his class! :))

            Yes, I think Jo has said something about trying and failing at things but if you don’t even try then you fail by default – I guess if DUmbledore lived for 100+ years, he’s bound to have some regrets for sure. And he had such a regrettable thing happen in his youth, in his formative years, so it makes sense that it would’ve left such an impact on his character for the rest of his life. Wish we knew more about how much the Muggle and wizarding worlds affected each other around the time he knew Grindelwald!

          • frumpybutsupersmart

            *throws flowers onto the stage for you* This comment is amazing. I absolutely agree that she has an obligation as a popular author (understatement much?) to her fans and to her characters to represent them in an accurate way. The most annoying comment for me was that one that I think David Heyman said in response to someone asking whether Dumbledore would be gay in FB. He said something along the lines of “I don’t know, he could be” and it really irritated me because Dumbledore would be gay whether or not they mentioned it. If it’s canon that he’s gay, it’s always canon, whether or not they acknowledge it – and it would be pretty crappy of them at this point not to acknowledge it.

    • ThatTimeRemusWaddiwasiedVoldy

      You’re right, there is context here that we younger folks haven’t experienced. That being said, the idea that there isn’t room for romance, gay or straight, is somewht ludicrous. There is already romance in HP. People kiss, hormonal teenagers pursue love interests, characters marry. Sure, there aren’t any depictions of anything beyond kissing, but it is still romance and no one is asking for more than that, just those same behaviors attributed to non- heteronormative characters. Including those stories doesn’t suddenly make it a “romance novel” for adults.

      Also, I spent years nannying for a lesbian couple and so spent time seeking out literature for a 3-5 year old that actually reflected her family and others like it. There is a woman’s book store here that also happens to be queer friendly. Their children’s section is full of storybooks that represent queer children and families. And they are still 100% child appropriate. Some are fairly direct in their intention to say “You have two mommies/are a girl stuck in a boys body/etc, and that’s totally fine and normal!” Others are much more subtle and still totally effective. They are just the same kinds of stories as any other childrens books, but just represent queer people as normal, as in “Mommy and Mama are taking Suzy and Ben to the zoo today! What animals do they see? Look a lion!” sort of thing. There are a ton of those books out there now, Unfortunately, while this one store has an entire section devoted to them, it can be a struggle to find those same books in your average Barnes and Noble. But the point is, queer representation can ABSOLUTELY be included in children’s stories and doesn’t change the nature of them one bit, except to reflect the reality of the world and queer people in it much more accurately.

  • ThatTimeRemusWaddiwasiedVoldy

    I just wanted to express how glad I am that you guys did this episode. I was dissapointed to see some of the negative reactions of some listeners via facebook, the whole “you guys are pushing the gay agenda” idiocy really got to me. I’m all for respecting and valuing the opinions of others, but for me, that ends the moment those “opinions” deny and rob people of their identities and basic human rights. To me those aren’t opinions, they are expressions of ignorance and hatred and being generally shitty human beings and we don’t have to tolerate or bend to the will of those shitty people. Alohomora!, and our little corner of it here in the comments, is where I come to avoid the nonsense like this that runs so rampant throughout the fandom online. Y’all keep doing what you’re doing, don’t ever change or let whatever negative feedback you might get discourage you from continuing with these sorts of topics. As a hetero cis woman who considers myself an ally, I have to say I learned a lot from this episode. Queercoding that exists in these books was never as obvious to me, so thanks for helping me understand that better. Also, the comments here so far are AMAZING! Though of course, I expected nothing less. I’m really looking forward to digging into more of them after work tonight.

  • TheViewFromVenus

    (Repost as I was detected as spam again)
    As a queer person who is entrenched in fandom, particularly the Harry Potter fandom, this topic has been a heated point of discussion for me. Due to me being caught up in the more Tumblr side of the fandom, I’ve have been experiencing the Harry Potter fandom from a almost sheltered perspective. It’s really interesting for me to place myself among Non-LGBTQIA+ fans and hear the utterly different ways they read the series and it’s characters. For me, personally, I read Harry as Bisexual along with Characters like Sirius. I have always read Lupin, Dumbledore and Gellert as Gay and Luna was always queer in my mind. When I tell this to people I, like you guys mentioned in the episode, gets the response of “You just want everybody to be gay for the sake of diversity.” That is something that always makes my blood boil.
    When it comes to Cursed Child, to which I admittedly read the script and will no doubt-idly never see the play, I was absolutely reading Albus and Scorpius as Queer and it was blowing my mind that so many others were not. This was not subtext, this was blatant. The thing that really got to me about Cursed Child and its Queer baiting is that when I brought up Albus sticking his tongue down his Aunt Hermione’s throat while polyjuiced as his Uncle Ron, not that many people seemed to have any problem with that, but oh boy you mention how you think Albus and Scorpius seem to have something going on between them and there is something wrong with you. It’s frustrating as it is disheartening.
    When it comes to Jo Rowling herself, I’m honestly unsure of what my exact feelings are. I think some people in the fandom give her too much credit and representation points when she has, to this point, not written a queer character that is said to be queer in canon. I mean if J.K. tomorrow writes on twitter that the twins were both Bisexual and had double the fun at the Quidditch after parties are we suppose to applaud her for it?
    All in all the thing that gets me is that giving us representation would not have been that difficult like some people like to pretend it would have been. Take the scene in the Goblet of Fire in the preparation to the Yule Ball after Ron tells Harry that he would have nothing to worry about and that girls would be queuing up to be his date. This is from the chapter The Unexpected Task pg 389,
    “Moreover to Harry’s amazement, he turned out to be quite right. A curly-haired third-year Hufflepuff girl to whom Harry had never spoken in his life asked him to go to the ball with her the very next day.The following day, two more girls asked him, a second year and (to his horror) a fifth year who looked as though she might knock him out if he refused”
    If you simply add another sentence or so mentioning how a few boys asked Harry to the ball as well that would have been spectacular.
    To close, I think you all did an excellent job on this topic and episode. I hope that you all continue viewing Potter critically through this queer lens and I hope someone makes mention of this in the long waited Sirius Black episode.

  • Slughorn’s Trophy Wife

    Has Shanna outted herself yet? I’m still waiting for the big reveal! 😀

    • Michael Harle

      Oh! Hah! Took me a good minute to realize you meant “did she reveal her identiy in the comments?”

      Kind of hilarious phrasing for this particular episode. X{D

      • Slughorn’s Trophy Wife

        LOL!! Yes, only meant reveal her identity. Perhaps that was the wrong choice of words XD But definitely funny considering 😉

  • SpinnersEnd

    Here’s a sinister thought in regards to the recap: What if Dumbledore is the reason Sirius went after Pettigrew in the first place?

    I don’ think he would be above giving Hagrid the information that him go after Pettigrew. Dumbledore could have easily manipulated Hagrid to get him to drop the “just right” piece of information that would send Sirius into a reckless chase.

  • Phoenix

    On the discussion of social progress in the Wizarding as opposed to the Muggle world: How do you think the longer lifespan comes into play here? After all, Dumbledore was 14 when Oscar Wilde was on trial.

    I am not talking about Dumbledore specifically, he seems to have been a progressive thinker for most of his life. But witches and wizards who were born in the Victorian era must have been in positions power until quite recently. Couldn’t that slow down social progress?

    • Soc.forRescueofVanishedAnimals

      This is a good point. In some cases, it likely would slow social progress, but people’s views evolve with cultural changes as well. Plus, when you have a longer term perspective, you bring a lot of historical insight that’s valuable in its own way, i.e., lessons from the past. So I think it would depend on the individual leader, such as Dumbledore, as you pointed out, being more progressive, whereas if Auntie Muriel were in charge … ; )

  • the_rhetor

    I hope this doesn’t emerge as a nasty type of comment, but rather an objective observation [thats the intention]: All of the arguments concerning JKRs missed opportunities on explicit queerness, failure to use her platform to be inclusive and so on, really just indicate one thing: Rowling is just a much a victim of hetero-normative, systemic power structures as the rest of us, at least we have been at one time or another. Kameron Hurley and plenty other writers observe and lament the countless times they, as writers, “troped” their own characters, killed off all the queer characters, made powerful women only powerful as masculine leaders etc. in their own fantasy writings all for the sake of the plot – not intuitively cluing in that when they make those writing choices, that specific writing falls into a larger framework of “fantasy literature norms” which reifies the hetero/patriarchal norms. Does this mean that JKR is not an ally? Does this mean that JKR doesn’t really care about queer people “as much as she says she does”? Perhaps that’s only something the individual person can answer for themselves. As for me, I think the answer is no. I think JKR is blending more queerness and more identities into her world the more conscious she becomes of their importance; walking and balancing a fine line of inclusivity and avoiding pandering/selling-out

    Now, just because I recognize that, doesn’t mean I think that HP or JKR are free from criticism or that any of this dialogues isn’t useful; quite the contrary actually. I mean, the -very- basis of Queer Theory in literature is taking the traditionally hetero-centric themes and exposing the variant spectrum of sexual desires. Using these types of reading is inherent to Queer Resistance and always have been. I think the more types of conversations like these we have, the more spaces open up for the explicit characters we are looking for and the more we help shape the direction of our beloved wizarding world.

    [looking at you Fantastic Beasts but i am NOT looking at you Johnny Depp – I am pretty sure you belong on a haunted boat’s dungeon or something…not Nurmengard]

    [also, I was the guest host on this episode – I promised to reveal myself :) ]

  • HowAmIGoingToTranslateThis

    thank you so much for naming me as sponsor for the second time! I didn’t realize that you’d be doing this, I thought with so many sponsors you get one recap or episode and not more. Thank you!!

  • HowAmIGoingToTranslateThis

    so glad you picked this topic and invited such wonderful and awesome guest hosts and guests! This discussion is very near and dear to my heart and I appreciate it a lot how considerate and thoughtful you approached it, making sure each voice is heard.

    While we were waiting for the episode to be published I’ve listed my ideas about what topics could come up and which I wanted to discuss and there’s some overlap, but still enough left that were not included yet:
    – Charlie Weasley as an ace icon
    – Deamus is canon !?
    – Harry does have his bi moments
    – LGBTTIQA* cast
    – coming out before, during or after reading the series
    – hoping for more representation in future Potter publications
    – when headcanons and ships become widely accepted
    – on the importance of fan fiction
    – who could be LGBTTIQA* based on the books and Harry’s limited view
    – Polyjuice Potion and how trans* persons think about ot
    – robes as gender neutral clothing
    – allyship in the Potter fandom: Protego and other campaigns

    I’d like to touch on a few of those, feel free to add if you want to.

    Coming out after reading the series: in 2007 I was 22 years old, in a straight relationship and raising a toddler. Fast forward to 2016: single and openly bisexual (or pan, more precisely) and still regarded as straight most of the time, because people assume you’re heterosexual until proven innocent. When I started rereading and listening to Alohomora my path out of the closet was halfway done. So my reading of the books now is coloured by my identity and experiences, but for me it’s not as much about finding the queerness in the books or movies, but about celebrating the diversity in our fandom. There is so much good that can come from people’s interpretations and the actions they take from it, so that is what I’d like to propose: use what we have for making things better for others and ourselves.

    I believe that allyship happens on a spectrum. We’d want Jo to be there and use her influence to the fullest to help improve things for queer people, but she does not do that. She’s doing this and that and not all of her ideas and actions are helpful. It’s not her most important topic, so we have to keep reminding her how important it is for us. It’s fine that other groups are more on her radar and on the whole she is doing a good job of improving things for other people. She cares more about social justice than a lot of governments do and for now I’m happy about what Jo has contributed. But she can do better in regards of queer representation and I hope she will aim to.

    More characters who could be queer: Gwenog Jones or other players from the Holyhead Harpies. Bathilda Bagshot. Bilius Weasley. Pomona Sprout, Wilhelmina Grubby-Plank, Charity Burbage. Justin Finch-Fletchley. Madam Malkins.

    • Phoenix

      I like the idea of gender neutral clothing at Hogwarts – I hadn’t thought about Hogwarts robes in that way before, but you are right!

      • DoraNympha

        God I so wish we had seen the WWW magenta robes on the twins in the film.

    • Soc.forRescueofVanishedAnimals

      “Heterosexual until proven innocent” — ha. So true. Especially, I can imagine, if you have a child.

      I really like your point about using the texts that we do have, and our various interpretations of them, to expand our thinking and learn from each other, rather than wishing they were something different (although I very much understand how much it would have meant, to many people, if the books had included more explicit representation). Although I didn’t think about Dumbledore’s sexuality at all until Deathly Hallows (I’ve never been much of a shipper, and the romantic elements in these books were of least interest to me), from the first time I read about his relationship with Grindlewald, I believed that Dumbledore was in love with him. For me it was clear — subtle, but clear — in the language and tone of Dumbledore’s letter to Grindlewald, and the way he speaks about him in King’s Cross, plus the otherwise unaccountable delay in seeking out and defeating Grindlewald. And I like how subtly it’s written; for me, it works. I was confused, therefore, at all the surprise and angst when Jo stated that Dumbledore was gay, until I thought more about it and how predisposed many people are to read a character or relationship as straight unless it’s not abundantly clear otherwise (again, heterosexual until proven innocent) — and how these books themselves may have steered people toward that reading. Also, I myself was surprised at the idea of Remus/Sirius, which had never occurred to me before, but now can see how the text supports that reading. So it’s fun to discuss and explore these things together as a fan community, and enjoy how much queer potential already exists in the text we are given.

      I also love your point about the gender-neutrality of robes. I’ve always found them refreshing in that they run directly counter to the hypersexualized fashion that’s in many aspects of culture these days.

  • HowAmIGoingToTranslateThis

    if I’m allowed to recommend a book series from an author who gets representation right and includes it in a way that makes you rejoice reading it: Becky Chambers, author of A long way to a small angry planet & A closed and common orbit. So fun to read, because has given her worldbuilding enough thought to include several species who are all different from humans and therefore have different structures in families and society, prefer certain language and behaviour and those different ways of life are simply part of the galaxy, normal, expected. Any educated person will learn to not impose their own standards onto other species and adapt their own behaviour when in mixed company. gender inclusive language is used like no big deal and characters apologize when they get something wrong instead of assuming they’re always right.
    Sentences like “It’s a letter from my dads!” show how normal being queer can be if we dare to.

    • ThatTimeRemusWaddiwasiedVoldy

      I agree on this recommendation, though I haven’t read A Closed and Common Orbit yet. I feel like most of the progress I’m seeing in this sense is ciming out of the Sci-Fi genre. While sometimes it is done a bit too “Look, here’s some gay characters!”, usually it is just part of the narrative and the characters within it living out their lives- men flirting with other men, a prominant diplomat attending a state dinner with her wife, same-sex families raising their children just like anyone else. I think in a lot of ways, it makes sense that we would see this kind of “progressive” writing in sci-fi more so than other genres. First of all, for any author who does care about social issues and human rights, I think it is becoming less and less realistic to imagine a time in the future, when space-travel and aliens are all possible, without queerness being a normal part of human life. Also, in terms of it being shocking to readers, when you are worldbuilding with all these kinds of improbabilities like space technology beyond out current comprehension, alien civilizations, traveling from one galaxy to another in a matter of days, it’s a bit hard to read all that stuff and then go “The captain likes men AND women! No way, that’s not realistic.” I think as a genre it has more freedom that way, but I also think that some of those authors (certainly not all) feel a responsibility to show that in the future, yes, society will continue to have it’s issues and human problems, but people’s sexuality and identity shouldn’t be one of them. It is just unfortunate that it takes writing about decades and centuries in the future to imagine that reality. But it has to start somewhere, and I think normalizing queerness within fictional worlds of the future is as good a place as any.

      I also think it is worth noting, while I was at my local used bookstore the other day I noticed how there was a section specifically for gay fiction. However, the sci-fi books I knew of with queer representation, or queer authors, weren’t segregated from the rest of the genre. I think that’s kind of a reflection of the world as it is, and how we’d like it to be. On one hand it is good to provide clear and easy access to queer literature for those who are looking for it, but also, how many hetero or cis-gendered people, even those who may consider themselves allies, are going to walk right by that section thinking “Oh, those are books for gay people, not me”. Whereas literally anyone looking for good sci-fi could end up picking up a book by a gay author, or with gay characters.

      • HowAmIGoingToTranslateThis

        agreed, Sci-Fi stories portraying future worlds that are more advanced and sophisticated than ours have less reason to include bigotry and heteronormativity than fantasy stories which tend to feature an abundance of “tropes of medieaval nonsense”

        Anyway, like you said, the way to queerness becoming part of the accepted normality is through examples and representation or the normalness of being queer. There will be backlash and too many legislations are lagging behind in protecting queer persons and giving them equal rights. Even if they close the gaps and for make example make marriage accessible to every adult couple, like Germany recently did, there will be trouble to overcome. In the first half of 2017 there was an 30 percent increase registered in homo-, bi- and transphobic crimes compared to 2016. Last year I had to defend a friend from being groped by strangers while we were attending a Pride march. If not even queer celebrations are safe spaces, where could we go?

        on a happier note: if you read A closed and common orbit, you will encounter a species who recognizes four genders, one of them being trans* and shifting genders (body, presentation and identity) several times a year.

        • ThatTimeRemusWaddiwasiedVoldy

          I’m so sorry that happened to your friend. This year on the train ride to the park for Pride, a trans friend had her skirt pulled up by some asshole yelling vulgarities not worth repeating. Luckily three very large guys got between him and us and forced the guy off the train at the next stop and held him there while we alerted police. The guy was prosecuted but the whole thing was so devastating for my friend; it was her first Pride, post-op, and it definitely put a damper on the whole experience for her. Our other friend made an “Well, welcome to womanhood” joke, but wasn’t really kidding. It was pure dark irony, and all we could do was nod in agreement. This is the only Pride I’ve been to where I’ve experienced that sort of thing and given the statistics you mentioned, I can’t help thinking it wasn’t a purely coincidental incident. Where are the safe spaces, indeed. Not here under this administration, that’s for sure.

          I’m definitely going to have to read ACACO, sounds awesome! I think I have it saved to my reading list already but gonna double check. I’m constantly forgetting about books people recommend.

          • HowAmIGoingToTranslateThis

            I hope your friend can feel save again at future events! In stituations like you described it would be so convenient to be able to cast Petrificus Totalus on an attacker to prevent them from causing harm, especially when there are no other people around who step in and help the attacked person.
            administration-wise, we’ve got parliament election coming up in September here in Germany and only one of the parties big enough to get enough votes has gender issues as an important topic. lots of room for improvement.

            Do you think Kingsley Shacklebolt has any free time he could spend being a good influence on the cabinet ?

          • ThatTimeRemusWaddiwasiedVoldy

            Gee, that’s certainly going around isn’t it? Kingsley Shacklebolt could be used in quite a few government office around the world right about now.

            Oh, the good ol’ Petrificus Totalus would definitely come in handy, or a bat-bogey hex to not only stop them, but also scare the daylights out of them. Though if I could cast spells, I’d be pulling a Harry and using Crucio to blast away Nazis right about now, without an ounce of remorse. Didn’t think that would ever be a threat again, yet here we are.

          • HowAmIGoingToTranslateThis

            I can understand your anger and encourage you to speak up and step in, but like our hosts I recommend caution. Your namesake-spell might just do the trick of keeping the bad guys in check. They carry their noses so high in their feeling of superiority, and that’s where you need to hit them. Because the goal is not to hurt, but to help them understand what Kingsley said: “Every human life is worth the same”

      • Penney Fold-Quaffle

        This is interesting; I was just saying the same type of thing about the high fantasy genre in regards to A Song of Ice & Fire book series coming out in the early ’90s and portraying incestual couples without any real ruckus, but when Game of Thrones the TV show went mainstream, initially people were shocked by that, found it risque or controversial, and some were repelled by it. High fantasy as a niche genre could take on those types of topics much earlier (as sci-fi books can), probably in part because the majority of their community was accepting or at least tolerant towards it, but when something goes mainstream (like HP), it gets more pushback.

        • ThatTimeRemusWaddiwasiedVoldy

          Yeah, I don’t know how much of it is down to having a smaller yet more tolerant audience. I think in general people who read a lot of fiction tend to be more tolerant and compassionate, especially if what they are reading endorses that sort of thing. The kind of people reading ASoI&F when it came out weren’t your casual “I bought this at the airport on my way to the beach, Oprah recommended it!” sort of readers. It is definitely for bookworms and fantasy enthusiasts. So yeah, give it an easily consumed tv show and suddenly the morality police come out of the woodwork. That’s def true.

          I think it also depends on who is being identified in certain ways. When you make the “bad guys” the incestuous ones, it’s just one more reason to think them dispicable. I think the negative reaction to the show was more of a “but you can’t show that on tv!” thing. People in general are less likely to condemn a writer for making characters like that, when they are also the villain of the story. This brings to mind another book to tv show- The Expanse. It’s main hero/protagonist is the only son of a polygamic family, which tends to be demonized by society, yet narratively his family isn’t treated as anything less than a loving, supportive, community just trying to survive as best they can and do right by their child, if still somewhat outside the cultural norm. The show definitely downplays that whole thing in comparison to the books though. I don’t know that it is popular enough to have received that much criticism for showing it though. I haven’t really seen anyone up in arms about it, but I wouldn’t be surprised if there were some cries of moral outrage about it, since he is the “good guy”. But again, it’s SyFy, so they tend to get away with more “alternative lifestyle” representation. And true also, that’s a pretty specific target audience. If that particular show were perhaps on a channel with a more general audience perhaps it would, for that and for it’s queer representation (which is also downplayed in comparison to the books).

          • Slughorn’s Trophy Wife

            Speaking of incestuous and polyamorous relationships who are not bad guys, I have to give a shout out to an author friend of mine whose book blew my mind. “Wish You Were Here” by Vincent Wales made me think in ways I never had before, stretched my mind, and made me a more aware and respectful individual. It also helps that it has many enjoyable fantasy elements :) I think y’all would enjoy it.

          • ThatTimeRemusWaddiwasiedVoldy

            Nice, will definitely check it out.

          • Penney Fold-Quaffle

            Ooh, I’ve heard lots of good things about the Expanse (and its creators’ connections to GoT)… plan to make that one of my next binges after I get back from LeakyCon and the U.K.!

          • ThatTimeRemusWaddiwasiedVoldy

            Oo, Leaky Ireland! You’re going to have so much fun!

            The Expanse isn’t AMAZING, diversity and representation-wise, but you can tell it’s trying. They did white-wash one fairly minor character from the books, but overall they are doing a pretty good job with the adaptation so far, which I’m rarely as pleased about. If you’re into classic space opera/ adventure, a la Battlestar Galactica, Firefly, etc, you’ll definitly enjoy it.

  • DoraNympha

    One extra-canon thing that I zoned in on right away when I first saw it: Jim Kay’s Lockhart looks so Wildean! It’s hard to miss, there’s even that pin/flower on his lapel, which should remind us of a green carnation…

  • Phoenix

    A quick comment on religion at Hogwarts: The fact that Anthony Goldstein is Jewish doesn’t necessarily mean that religion plays a role at Hogwarts, since being Jewish may or may not entail being religious.

    Michael’s point that a reduced influence of or possibly even some opposition to religion among witches and wizards might have led to a more queer-supportive society had never occurred to me – it’s certainly very interesting.

    • DoraNympha

      Wasn’t there some tweet or interview snippet where Jo confirmed that all religions aside from Wicca are present at Hogwarts? I also think it was an excellent point that the absence of religion as seen in the Muggle world means the absence of most homophobic arguments but I worry whether the institutionalized obsession with blood purity more than makes up for it, creating a system of life in which gov bodies try to control what an individual gets up to in their private life.

      Edit: found it. http://www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/books/jk-rowling-the-only-religionbelief-system-not-represented-at-hogwarts-is-wicca-9930337.html

      • Phoenix

        I’m afraid it does! Also, homophobic people who aren’t religious will find other excuses… But it might still have been a major point of separation between the two societies.

        Did she say that? ALL the religions? That’s a lot of religions…

      • Phoenix

        (After reading the artice:) I had never read that before… interesting… I’m not sure if I am convinced, though… Christianity, for instance, also has a conception of magic which is (famously) different from that presented in the Harry Potter books… but Christians don’t see themselves as practising magic, so I guess that makes it more compatible.

      • Penney Fold-Quaffle

        Did anybody else find it problematic that a particular spirituality (especially one tied to magic as well) specifically *isn’t* present at Hogwarts? Jo never says that Wiccans are banned or not allowed to come, just that there are no Wiccans there, but something about that seemed very problematic to me back when that article first came out.

        • Slughorn’s Trophy Wife

          My first thought was, “yeah, that definitely comes off as pandering.” But I also seem to remember some Wiccans being angry about Potter when it came out because people kept comparing their religion to a fictional story. So perhaps it was out of respect for them that she said there are no Wiccans at Hogwarts?

  • Rosmerta

    It’s quite weird when you looks at the timeline, say for those of us who image Albus had a close (non sexual) relationship with Minerva, he’s actually some 54 years older than her! So more like a grandfather figure.
    Whereas Albus is only 16 years older than Newt. Interesting thoughts!

    • Penney Fold-Quaffle

      Yes, before I scoured the Lexicon it was easy to make lots of assumptions… especially when the movies came along! It’s REALLY interesting once you start looking at everyone’s real ages, when they were born, what time period they actually grew up in, which other characters they grew up with, etc. People wonder why Snape has trouble letting go of his teenaged and early twenties years (thinking of someone Rickman’s age), but when Harry first started at Hogwarts, Snape was only around 31 or something like that! Much closer to that crucial time period.

  • Phoenix

    I had been looking forward to this discussion and I wasn’t disappointed! Thank you! The only other thing I would have liked to hear was a trans
    person’s perspective, especially on human transfiguration, Hogwarts
    dormitories, etc.

    [Edit: I realised the rest of this comment could be read as angry. Please don’t read it in an angry voice!]

    All things considered, I still believe JKR had the best intentions but didn’t quite think it through. She is clearly supportive of LGBTQIA rights, I absolutely believe that her support is sincere. But I don’t think that at the time she wrote the books she had considered what a queer friendly society would really entail. First of all, eliminating discrimination requires some serious reflection and work – it’s not (only) a question of laws, it’s a process that involves the whole society. The Wizarding and Muggle worlds separated at a time when there were certainly no equal rights for queer people. So how did the magical community get there? I suppose it’s possible to get there within that time, but is there anything that indicates that the Wizarding world even tried? You don’t get rid of discrimination by simply never talking about it again.

    They don’t seem to talk about these things at Hogwarts. They have two sets of bathrooms and two sets of dormitories (not to mention that peculiar staircase rule). They are expected to bring a student of the opposite sex to the Yule ball. We don’t know if that’s strictly a rule, it may very well not be, but everyone certainly expects that that’s what everyone else is looking for. When the Weasley twins start to market their product line for girls, it is utterly heteronormative: love potions that must be administered depending on the boy’s weight, daydreams consisting of a “handsome youth” and a “swooning girl” on a pirate ship (ugh). And I can’t even blame them. How are they supposed to imagine that one of their friends, classmates or customers might be queer if they have never met anyone who doesn’t get married and have children a week after leaving school?

    I understand that it might not have been wise to introduce lots of queer characters in 1997. But even in 1997, there was no need to portray such a normative society when it comes to family and relationship concepts.
    Do we ever see a couple live together with no plans of getting married? Do we ever see a happily married couple without children? Apart from Bellatrix, whose marriage is never shown and may well have been a marriage of convenience, and who had to be childless in order to be the Anti-Molly, I don’t think we ever see a married person without children. Apparently, McGonagall and her husband didn’t have any children, and Charlie Weasley (<3) doesn't get married at all, but that's not in the books. Do we see anyone growing up with a single parent? Any adopted children? Any grown-ups sharing a flat? ANYTHING that's not father-mother-child and that's not a tragedy?

    Adding a few variations in familiy concepts would have been easy… and I like to think she would if she was writing the series now. I think that even without explicitly queer characters, a more diverse family concept would have achieved a lot. That, in combination with its rather diverse spectrum of gender representations, would have made the series believably queer friendly. As it is, we have to be content with the fact that it is not explicitly hostile, and fill in the gaps – as you admirably did in this wonderful episode.

    • DoraNympha

      You made me I realise I focused too much on the law in my comments above but the bigger part of progress is probably public opinions indeed, though that is much harder to grasp.

      Also, just leaving this here for the curious, even to just think about what has changed through Dumbledore’s lifetime: not only were queer people not equal at the time of the split between the Muggle and wizarding world, there was no concept of identity as there is today. I can only speak for Britain but up until the very late 19th century, homosexuality was something to DO rather than something to BE. Only the upper classes started identifying as other as such around that time, then it trickled down as identities to wear by the 1950s in all strata of an otherwise already very divided society. Being gay was never prohibited, only actual actions, but it wasn’t common to identify as queer until quite recently in history! I just think this is quite fascinating, it’s really hard to place oneself in that mindset now!

      So… far from being an LGBTQ+ hero, lol, but, ironically, Lord Alfred Douglas’ father the Marquess of Queensberry was being quite queer progressive in 1895 when he accused Wilde of “posing as a somdomite[sic]”, of being gay rather than just casually engaging in activities. Seeing as labels, words how we make sense of the world (well said on the episode!), and identities are important to collective activism and progress, he kind of shot himself in the leg with that if that’s a silver lining in the otherwise notoriously horrific libel case…

      • Phoenix

        Oh yes, thank you for adding the aspect of behaviour vs. identity – that’s a very good point! So the magical community had to come up with a modern concept of identity independently. Is that a likely scenario? The only argument in favour of this that I can think of is that they might be more familiar with the concept of identity because magic is in some ways similar to that. Magical people were prosecuted for doing magic, but for them, it is more than just actions. Theoretically, a grown-up, trained witch or wizard could decide not to do any more magic – but they couldn’t decide not to be a witch or wizard. But would they have applied that to gender and sexuallity? That would require the public conversation I mentioned – and it’s hard to see traces of that in the books. Their mindset is clearly binary, staring with the name “Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry”.

        • Phoenix

          Oh, that made me wonder whether magical feminists ever insisted on calling it “the Witching and Wizarding world”…

          … and whether non-binary magical people have a word to describe themselves:
          To Hermione: “Are you a witch or what?”
          To Ron: “Are you a wizard or what?”
          To Teddy: “Are you a …… or what?”

          • HowAmIGoingToTranslateThis

            I’ve read the word “wix” as a suggestion for a gender neutral term for magical persons.

          • Phoenix

            Nice idea, why not?!

          • Penney Fold-Quaffle

            That’s a great word!

        • DoraNympha

          Wow, okay, that’s an amazing thought! Adding to this the fact that female words for sorcery were the villainized ones, for example a man can be a witch in the sense that he is a dark wizard or something, depending on the story/context. My native is Hungarian, a gender-neutral language, but we still use both the binary words for witch and wizard in the name of Hogwarts and throughout the translation without this demonized-femaleness, as actual equal words within HP, which they are not in other tales or in language in general. The wizard is commonly the sage who helps a princess, whereas the witch is the one cursing her in fairy tales.

          “Are you magic(al) or not?” could be an appropriate gender-neutral question, right? Can we say a woman is a sorcerer instead of a sorceress? Warlocks can be female too but these words tend to come with some status or experience in the magical society seen in HP so it’s less about marking gender but more about singling out particularly gifted persons. Is warlock even an official title in the wizarding world? After much feminist campaigning, the name of the school may be changed to Hogwarts School of Magic, perhaps?

          • Phoenix

            Interesting observations on male and female magic! In German, my native language, both words (Hexerei, Zauberei) could be seen as negative/used to describe crimes/sins. The evil witch vs. helpful wizard stereotype exists in stories as well (I assume we were at least partly told the same stories :)), although there are also evil wizards.

            “Hogwarts School of Magic” certainly sounds like an appropriate name for a school in the 21st century. :) I don’t mean to get too hung up on the name, though. Maybe there is a tradition argument for keeping it – not because tradition has ever been a good reason for making people invisible, but because at the time of foundation, the school’s name might have been a statement of resistance (“Yeah, we’re teaching witchcraft, deal with it!”). But the Wizarding world should really be called the Magical world to include everyone – no excuses.

            I guess “Are you magical or not?” would do as a gender neutral version, but I am still wondering whther people wouldn’t want a proper noun.

          • Phoenix

            By the way, that last question is truly relevant, because I firmly believe that “Are you a witch/wizard/… or not?” has become an eternal running joke within the Potter-Weasley-Granger family. They say it all the time whenever someone does a poor job of solving a problem. Trust me, it’s true! ;D

          • Hm…. the good old RPG “magic user” would be a gender neutral noun.

          • Phoenix

            “Are you a magic user or not?”
            Hmmm, takes some getting used to, but I’ll consider it… :)

        • Rowling uses the words “witch” and “wizard” merely to denote a character’s gender. However, they can also signify different styles of practicing magic, for example in Terry Pratchett’s Discworld books.

          In that context, witchcraft is more the practical side of magic, i. e. Herbology, Potions, etc., while wizardry is the intellectual side like Astronomy, Charms, and Transfiguration.

          So, since Hogwarts teaches all of the disciplines of magic, I think it’s appropriate to keep the name “School of Witchcraft and Wizardry”.

          • Lisa

            But even in the Discworld series there was some gendered aspect to the use of witch and wizard. Wizards were mainly men and I remember that in one book where a girl was trying to become a wizard she was met with scepticism and sexism. It’s true that Rowling doesn’t really respect the different meanings of witch and wizard. Not just in Discworld, but historically speaking the word “witch” referred to the more, as you put it, practical side of magic while wizard magic was more sophisticated.

  • metaphora

    Interestingly, in the Harry-Potter-World there is sex and reproduction between members of different species (giants, veelas, goblins + humans) but not a single explicit same sex relationship in the books. (For transgender we have Norbert/Norberta. :-) )

    Surely times where different when the books were being written and it would have been harder to market a children’s book with openly gay characters in it.
    On the other hand, for non-heterosexual/non-binary kids growing up at the time it would have been really great to find any positive role model in the books, that reflects their struggles in growing up and finding a positive self image.
    But metaphors is all we got.

    As for Lupin and Sirius, I still hope for their love story (in den Marauders’ era) to be told by JKR one day. That would be her chance to get more explicit – and to counter the awful backlash and hatred we are experiencing in the world around us today.

    I love the way grown-up Sirius and Remus allow each other to read each other’s minds, a very touchingly intimate thing to do, which shows how close they are.
    Losing Sirius for the second time must have been devestating for Remus. Everybody who means something to him keeps getting murdered. That explains for me perfectly well why Lupin does not want to get too attached to Tonks, even without the “little furry problem”-thing..

    I never really bought into the Lupin-Tonks-ship. Clearly, Lupin didn’t want to get married and have a baby, and if a character fights so hard against being shipped, maybe as his author you should listen to him… :-)
    Also for Tonks: She is a badass auror. It seems totally out of character for her, that in the middle of the war, she would drop contraception to become a stay-at-home-mom.

    There is this strange parallel story of Bill/Fleur and Lupin/Tonks: Bill also is attacked by a werewolf, then they also get married. Fleur is this annoyingly motherly character (rivalling Mrs. Weasley) and it would be totally believable for her having a baby at the time when Harry, Ron and Hermione drop in at their house in DH. It would all make sense to me that way.
    So I don’t know why JKR shifted this narrative strand to Lupin/Tonks instead.
    (Also, she wouldn’t have needed to kill my 2 favorite characters just in order to produce another orphan. In my little private parallel universe Lupin kills Greyback, survives The Battle and returns to Hogwarts to be the wonderful teacher he is. And maybe develops a deep friendship with Firenze.)

    • Slughorn’s Trophy Wife

      Star Trek: The Next Generation fell into the same hole. Interspecies sex and reproduction? No problem! Same gender sharing so much as a kiss? Hell no! BUT Gene Roddenberry made the decision not to include homosexual characters, not because he was bigoted or didn’t feel they deserved representation, but because he knew the TV networks wouldn’t air it if he did. He was able to get the first interracial kiss on TV in 1968 (though some areas refused to air that episode) but TNG lasted from 1987 until 1994 and they never openly addressed homosexuality. It’s truly a shame. Gene died in 1991 and other shows were beginning to show homosexuality in the early 90s, so it still baffles me as to why they didn’t include it towards the series’ end.

      • It’s taken Star Trek more than 700 TV episodes and a dozen movies to even show an openly gay moment for the first time in Star Trek Beyond… I really hope the gay couple in the upcoming Star Trek: Discovery will be more than token representation.

        • Slughorn’s Trophy Wife

          This write up has some examples in it from earlier than Star Trek Beyond but many are definitely a stretch:

          http://www.ex-astris-scientia.org/inconsistencies/homosexuality.htm

          And I’m SO disappointed that Voyager didn’t make the list at all :(

          • Thanks, that was an interesting read.

            As you said, many of the instances listed are tenuous at best. The only one I’d say really counts as explicitly non-straight is DS9’s Rejoined, and even there the relationship is not actually pursued, because Lenara backs away out of fear of being ostracized.

            So, to amend my initial statement: it’s taken Star Trek more than 700 TV episodes and a dozen movies to show a successful queer relationship.

      • ThatTimeRemusWaddiwasiedVoldy

        Agreed. And it’s notable that even Star-Trek’s claim to first interracial kiss is debateable. For a show that is hailed as being so ahead of it’s time in some ways, it still has a lot of work to do.

  • HowAmIGoingToTranslateThis

    One more character who could be queer: Babitty Rabitty.

  • The first time my comment was ever read on the show, Michael followed up with something like “By the way, I checked out your little bio. It looks like we’re compatible, call me.”

    Still my favorite episode, haha

    • ThatTimeRemusWaddiwasiedVoldy

      Haha, I recently re-listened to that episode! I had forgotten about it and was like “Oh yeah, that time Michael was hitting on Wheezy!” It was adorably funny lol.

      Also, I recently relistened to the one with Arjun Gupta, where he gushed over Michael’s voice and told the girls to get out haha. I have no idea if that reflects Arjun’s preferences, or was just a joke, and it isn’t my business, but it so important I think, to hear two men interact that way in media, even when it is just joking around, because it isn’t using gayness as the butt of the joke. These are perfect examples of NORMAL human interaction, involving gay individuals. It’s the sort of thing that writer’s looking towards representation should be taking note of.

      • Penney Fold-Quaffle

        As someone who’s still catching up on back episodes… when was Arjun Gupta on the podcast?! Topic? So cool (and funny) :)

        • ThatTimeRemusWaddiwasiedVoldy

          It was for Deathly Hallows; chapter 30, I believe. It was definitely a fun one, check it out!

    • Michael Harle

      Followed, as usual, with no phone call.

      Alas! ;{ )

  • Griff

    Thanks for talking about this, guys! Great discussion.

    I think LGBTQ people face at least an “other” mentality in the wizarding world. Even if pure blood status is main source of discrimination, oppression rarely works through a single domain in any society.

    Just as white supremacy works with sexism and homophobia, I can’t imagine pure blood racism being the unique form of discrimination, though it is the most overt.

    • Slughorn’s Trophy Wife

      There is also discrimination towards non-human magical beings and the muddy distinction between being and beast, which goes along with the blood status prejudice. So yes, it is possible that there are other people being “othered” in the WW than we know of.

  • DisKid

    Just a fun thing to mention (probably because of my heavy Christmas obsession) to the one who wondered why wizards would celebrate Christmas when they likely don’t believe in Jesus. The answer lies in the same reason why 81% of non-religious individuals in the United States celebrate Christmas, and same reason why elsewhere in the world where they celebrate Christmas you’ll find many non-religious participants. I could give you a really long answer, I wrote a whole essay on this once, but I’ll save you the trouble lol. Can look it up if you’re interested :)

    • Slughorn’s Trophy Wife

      I had the same thought while listening to the episode. It’s just as much (if not more) of a secular holiday now as a religious one. Because capitalism.

      • DisKid

        Capitalism wasn’t even mentioned in my essay ironically enough! lol.

        • Slughorn’s Trophy Wife

          lol! Well apart from capitalism there’s tradition, nostalgia, family/friend/societal pressure, and I’m sure more that I’m not thinking of. What’s the title of your essay? I’d love to read it :)

          • DisKid

            You’re in luck! The blog I posted it to is now defunct, but I checked my USB drive and it’s still saved in there! I’d be happy to send it to you if you like :)

          • Slughorn’s Trophy Wife

            Sweet! Send it to the Alohomora email and I’ll be able to access it there :)
            alohomorapodcast@gmail.com
            And thanks!

          • DisKid

            Will do! :)

  • ThatTimeRemusWaddiwasiedVoldy

    I’m kind of surprised that Cuaron gave Thewlis the “gay junkie” direction, because isn’t that basically how he plays all his characters anyway? I mean, not that that is what his roles have been, but in the sense that the mannerisms, speech patterns, facial expressions, etc that might read as or signal the gay junkie aesthetic, are present in a lot of his acting. That’s kind of his thing. It’s just an oddly specific way to phrase what I feel like he would have done with the role anyway. Don’t get me wrong, I love Thewlis as an actor, and particularly as Lupin, but add on a “maniacal bastard” to gay junkie, transpose or recombine some or all of those descriptors into various combinations and you pretty much have every role he’s ever played, aesthetically speaking.

    • DoraNympha

      Lol so true… I had seen Total Eclipse before PoA (okay I had been obsessed with it is probably a more accurate phrasing) and couldn’t not see it in his Lupin. Or maybe I just wanted to see it in him? See, this is where I think it was precisely why he was cast in the first place. He didn’t even need that direction.

      • ThatTimeRemusWaddiwasiedVoldy

        Haha, yes! I love that you were obsessed with it. I mean, Thewlis and DiCaprio? What’s not to love. I actually watched Total Eclipse for the first time sometime around the release of POA, because I remember it was the summer before college. I had a friend over and we went to Blockbuster with my mom to rent a couple movies. My mom picked out Total Eclipse and I remember the conversation going something like this

        Me, looking at the cover of the box for it :”Oh hey, he’s supposed to be in the next Harry Potter movie right? As Lupin?”

        My friend: “Oh, the Dragonheart guy. Yeah, that man is definitely a werewolf.”

        My mom: “Well, I assure you this is not about werewolves or dragons. He plays a gay French poet.”

        My friend: “Well, that’s different. He’s got some range then huh?”

        Me: Reading the movie synopsis, “Wait, Verlaine was bi? How did I not know this? I’m really doubting my entire literary education right now! I know nothing!”

        My mom: “We’re in the bible belt and your biology books have stickers saying evolution is JUST a theory in them. Are you really surprised?”

        Me: “College is going to be awesome.”

        And so began my love for David Thewlis, and Dragonheart, POA, and Total Eclipse being forever linked in my mind lol. Although, I didn’t actually end up watching POA until a number of years later. But still, clearly its no coincidence that conversation stuck with me.

        • DoraNympha

          Ha! I recorded it on VHS tape from the TV and watched it in secret at night when my parents wouldn’t be walking in on me watching a gay movie. I was super young and we very briefly learned about the French naturalists and symbolists in Literature only like a year later and on the inside I was like mwehehehohohoheheheIKNOWTHESEPOETSandoneofthemisRemusLupin!!! I definitely connect these characters through Thewlis too! I also watched him in that dinosaurus series, Endgame, and in Dr Moreau, since then he’s been that professor in The Theory of Everything, this guy’s the slightly mad but likeable beast/teacher character in my heart forever lol.
          (And I must be the only one but I like the stupid little moustache. He should be scruffy and shabby and stuff. I think it suits him or maybe it’s that it’s not Thewlis’ worst screen look lol. Maybe Lupin grew it especially for the teaching position, to take the mickey out of Snape all the more. He’s a professor now, with classes to teach and a moustache to wear! Take that with a straight face, Snivellus.)

          • ThatTimeRemusWaddiwasiedVoldy

            Haha
            Yeah, I pretty much enjoy all his toles, even if the movies themselves aren’t always great lol. I forgot he was in Dinotopia too. I recently watched Divorcing Jack. Pretty decent dark humor, which I enjoy.

            And Omg! I liked the moustache too! People call it his Hitler stache, but it isn’t quite like that. I think it suited him. He has definitely looked much worse.

          • DoraNympha

            Yes Dinotopia, that’s the one. Oh and he punches Jason Isaacs in Divorcing Jack, always a treat to see HP actors in different roles giving visuals to imagined scenarios. Didn’t he sort of enter the scene with Naked? I think that was an indicator that he wouldn’t want to be playing the everyman/nice-lead-male lol.

            And YES the moustache! Welcome to the ‘stache fanclub, we’re probably the only two members. In that deleted scene in DH2 with Tonks and Remus on the tower, you can see her sort of running her finger over the scruff, which I’ll take anyday over Neville/Luna suddenly hogging the precious and limited screentime. *smashes cup* ANOTHER.

  • daveybjones999 .

    I personally always read Dumbledore as straight until Deathly Hallows came out. As soon as we got the backstory between him and Grindlewald through Rita Skeeter’s book, I realized that he was probably gay, and reading the King’s Cross scene just clinched it for me. So when J.K. Rowling revealed it I wasn’t surprised at all. Also, I haven’t read all the comments so someone else might have already said this but, as far as if Grindlewald felt any remorse for his actions in later year, I think the quote you were looking for is in the King’s Cross scene. On page 719 in the US Edition after Harry tells Dumbledore about Grindlewald not telling Voldemort about the location of the Elder Wand Dumbledore says, “They say he showed remorse in later years, alone in his cell at Nurmengard. I hope that is true. I would like to think he did feel the horror and shame of what he had done. Perhaps that lie to Voldemort was his attempt to make ammends…”

  • Soc.forRescueofVanishedAnimals

    All too likely, horrible as that is. She probably threatens Ripper with the same fate when Marge isn’t around.

    • It occurred to me that Dolores and Marge are the kind of persons who’d have a Wolpertinger (German mythical creature, similar to a jackalope) in their living room. 😀

  • Oliv_andra

    I posted a longer comment before but for some reason it didn’t actually post. I wanted to share on the subject of reading literature outside of the lens of heteronormativity, recently a friend shared with me that at her church they were discussing one of the apostles as a gay man and discussed what value/implications would that bring to his story if they read it through that lens. I think it’s valuable especially for marginalized groups to be able to identify and find themselves in literature and there is historical context for reading this way.
    As for Dumbledore, I always kind of read him as gay because the very first time that I read about him on the chocolate frog card and it mentioned his “partner” Nicolas Flamel, my mind immediately went to romantic partner, perhaps because I was young didn’t have a context for business partner. I obviously realized right away from context that it actually meant business partner / colleague. I think I was always open to the idea of him being gay, not because of anything that Jo wrote but just because of where my mind went that first time.

    ** Also, first time commenter, long-time lurker. I felt like I needed to finish the reread before I started the topic episodes. I had started the reread a really long time ago but then fell behind with some life stuff and finally just finished and started listening to the topic discussions with this episode. What a great episode to start with. Thank you for all you do!

  • Phat Albus

    X-Men queer discussion is a pandora’s box that nobody sans dedicated X-philes have the time to discuss.

    Instead I shall just leave these here.

    https://i.annihil.us/u/prod/marvel/i/mg/c/f0/589ddfc222e9c/detail.jpg

    https://pre08.deviantart.net/94f7/th/pre/i/2011/076/d/a/the_d_men___x_men_harry_potter_by_kahunablair-d3bv2ad.png

  • Phat Albus

    For myself I remember being surprised by Dumbledore’s sexuality but beyond that I cannot recall my reaction. It’s not something that even occurred to me during my first revistiation of the story, nor even my later ones up until book 7 when we get into Grindlewald.

    I think it adds a lot of great layers to the story and his character though and that kind of justifies it inspite of being a trope.

    To me 99% of the time when engaging in tropes that tread into at least potentially offensive territory it’s how justified it is within the narrative more than anything else. In theory depending upon how well it’s executed and what it does for the narrative over all it isn’t necesarilly out of bounds for example to invoke what would typically be described as the WIF trope. Although I think the thing to do as a writer is to think long and hard about whether such a thing really is justified in the story. Then again really any decent writer should be doing that with most narrative decisions.

    Also wanna drop in that Dumbledore and Grindelwald’s relationship kind of reminds me of the relationship between the Doctor and the Master from Doctor Who.

    Close friends in their youths, kindred spirits but with opposing outlooks on life who went in very different directions. The good one of the two can’t really bring himself to end the other because of their pasts but when they do clash it is an epic and personal battle.

    And for the record, long before the Master was played by a female actress the relationship between him and the Doctor was read as romantic by a lot of viewers going right back to the 1970s.

  • Phat Albus

    On a potentially more controverisal side-note, I personally do not believe that everyone is sexually fluid so much as based upon my reading (which i admit is not exactly expert level) that some people are born sexually fluid, some people are born homosexual, some are born hetereosexual, etc. I of course do not wish to offend anyone with such a statement, I am simply putting forward my stance and interpretation of things