Monday, October 29, 2007

Gay Dumbledore

As you may know, I've been a Harry Potter fan since the very first days. We had to special order our first Harry Potter book because no one at Barnes and Noble had heard of it.

So now, after the series is finally complete, J. K. Rowling reveals that Albus Dumbledore was gay.


Sure, he could have been gay, but so what? What he really was, was celibate. Apparently, the only sexual encounter – if it even came to that – was with the soon-to-turn-evil Grindlewald back when he was a teenager. From that point on, Dumbledore seems to have no romantic partner of any sort.

Come to think of it, NONE of the teachers at Hogwarts seems to have a sexual identity. In other words, it's a non-issue.

But of course, as a pastor, people ask me, "What do you think of it? Does that change your attitude toward the books?"

The answer is, NO. The books show Dumbledore always acting in the best interests of his charges and never acting inappropriately. Gayness or straightness has nothing to do with appropriateness. I read a commentary that suggested Dumbledore chose a career in a school so he could be close to all those teenage boys. What silliness. That commentator seems to confuse gays for pedophiles, which are completely different creatures (and mostly straight according to mental health experts).

Perhaps this issue can fairly ask one question. If a person never acts on their sexual impulses (or ceases to do so at a very young age), can that person be said to be gay or straight at all? Let us take, as an example, members of religious communities. Monks and nuns live in community with people of their same gender but take vows of celibacy. I know some monks who would identify themselves as straight and others who identify themselves as gay – yet none of them act on their sexual inclinations. In reality, they are simply monks, and each monk – just as each person – must wrestle with their own issues in their own way.

I believe the Harry Potter books teach many great values such as honesty, courage in the face of wickedness, friendship and compassion. Whether it made sense for J. K. Rowling to announce Dumbledore's gayness after the fact, I can't tell. It certainly generated a good amount of buzz, but did it add anything to the conversation about gay/straight relations and tolerance? I don't know.

All I know is that Jesus commands us to love our neighbors as ourselves, and I guess – if he were real – that would include a gay Dumbledore as much as a straight Harry.