Monday, October 22, 2007

J.K. Rowling Outs Dumbledore

Harry had better watch his back. When author J. K. Rowling answered a young fan’s question the other evening with the answer that Headmaster Dumbledore was indeed homosexual, she opened the door to what will surely be a new round of censorship for the hugely successful series.

According to the American Library Association who keeps track of these censorship challenges, Justin Richardson and Peter Parnell’s award-winning “And Tango Makes Three,” about two male penguins parenting an egg from a mixed-sex penguin couple, tops the list of most challenged books in 2006 by parents and administrators, due to the issues of homosexuality.

For the last two or three years, the Harry Potter books had strangely been missing from the annual list of most challenged books while Rowling continued to hold the fourth place among the American Library Association’s Top Ten Challenged Authors 1990-2004.

Over the years, challenges to the books revolved mainly around the central theme of witchcraft and wizardry. However, it is safe to say that we do not now have covens of budding witches and wizards due to fascination with the books. Hardly. We have many more college-age students—the ones who grew up loving Harry—who have moved on to other works. Molded into readers by their love of the books, these young adults like my own College Boy might not have been as enthusiastic if Harry and Rowling had not come into their lives when they were in elementary school.

Now, with Rowling’s revelation, I predict Harry may just find himself back on the list.


Marsha said...

Mandy and I saw that tid bit of news yesterday. I think it was fairly obvious all along. JK actually seems to be purposely provoking the religious zealots. Another reason to adore her.

Waitress Polly said...

Yeah, I thought it was kind of unnecessary. I mean, no one has asked Harper Lee about any of her character's sexual orientation, why not just accept a book of fiction on its own terms?

Joe said...

Interesting...I can't help but wonder what the purpose was behind her revelation. Was she trying to say "look, homosexuals can be very wise, caring and powerful individuals?" Or was she indeed trying to "provoke the religious zealots" as Marsha suggested in her reply? Or was it perhaps a publicity stunt?

I have written many stories. Admittedly none are published at this point, but if they ever do make it that far and someone questions the sexual orientation of one of my characters, I would have to reply with another question - "does it really matter?"

Marion said...

I think she's in a position to teach youth of today compassion. And I think she was wise to use it.

For somebody who can write those books the way she did, I have nothing but admiration for her honesty in replying to that question.

I hadn't heard about this, Sheila, thank you for bringing it to my attention with your post.

Whoever J.K. Rowling is, she brought a much beloved series of books to the World. And for her to admit Dumbledore's sexual persuasion was like 'coming out' in a way. It took much courage.

Palm Springs Savant said...

It was an interesting statement and revelation to make. My take on it was that she was forcing people to think. how would I feel if I learned that someone I knew turned out to be gay? Does it change my mind about the person? Do I still admire them? Etc. Despite all the controversy, I like things that make people think.

Kyle & Svet Keeton said...

Hi Sheila!

Now we are very calm about Harry Poter in Russia... Yes, we read first 3 books with interest, than it became more boring and scared and really not for kids! But we got in Russia some excellent writers: one was invent magic Russian world very close to Russian folk fare-tales and the other wrote some volumes of great parodies on Harry Potter stuff. That's what Russian loves! And when we heard about some issue between J. K. Rowling and the first writer, a lot of Russians decided to boycott J. K. Rowling. So did my son and I - and we don't regret about this :).

Best wishes!
And thank you for good article.

Lorelei said...

As Marsha pointed out, I don't think it was really that much of a surprise.

Sheila said...

Thanks for all of the comments. I really owe J. K. Rowling a huge debt of gratitude for what her writing inspired in my son. He absolutely adored her works and took them to college with him, and he tells me other students are just as big fans as he is.

I have seen one Web site that has discussed this subject and the writers there seemed to think there is some conspiracy or agenda to "normalize" being homosexual. For this reason, I suspect the books may again come under the threat of censorship. But books like Huck Finn, Catcher in the Rye, Judy Bloom books and others are still challenged many years after they were originally published.

PSS, I think your point is just how I feel. It does make some think and that's a good thing. What matters most is not a person's or character's sexuality. What matters is what kind of person he or she is.

Jackie said...

I love the books and films at 62. Although it has now opened a way for parents to get honest with their children and explain homosexuality it could also backfire as you say in areas where people are closed minded and backward.

Remember the great Noddy kiddies books that got pulled off many library shelves as so called intellectuals thought racism and homosexuality was involved. Sad as they were great books for 2 to 5 year olds and Enid Blyton certainly hadn't written them with that intention.