Hint and a miss

Anjali Jhangiani
Sunday, 24 March 2019

Potterheads from the LGBTQ+ community talk about how they felt about JK Rowling’s revelation of Dumbledore and Grindelwald’s relationship

Potterheads can never get enough of the Harry Potter franchise. And the world’s most popular author, JK Rowling, has been keeping her fans delighted by revealing some trivia or the other about her characters. But one such comment did not go down well with the LGBTQ+ community recently. In the Blu Ray version of Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald with the recently-added feature of Rowling’s commentary, she is heard talking about the history between Albus Dumbledore and Gellert Grindelwald. She says, “Their relationship was incredibly intense. It was passionate, and it was a love relationship. But as happens in any relationship, gay or straight or whatever label we want to put on it, one never knows, really, what the other person is feeling. You can’t know, you can believe you know. So I’m less interested in the sexual side — though I believe there is a sexual dimension to this relationship — than I am in the sense of the emotions they felt for each other, which ultimately is the most fascinating thing about all human relationships.”

While some are thrilled at this ‘revelation’, others feel that this is no new information. Twitteratti is also upset with the way the author brought her characters out of the closet as she juggles between making a statement and leaving it ambiguous. We speak to members of the local LGBTQ+ community to find out what they feel about it.

Varun Shinde, 35 year-old fashion head at INSD Deccan, who started reading the books when he was 21, is filled with joy after becoming aware of Rowling’s comment. “Love is the most powerful form of magic that exists in the world. Love is crucial, sensitive and beautiful, but it can also be dangerous.

Anyone at any age can fall in love, and it can change the course of their future for the better or worse. The best example of this — Albus Dumbledore and Gellert Grindelwald. Both of them were most powerful wizards, both ambitious and very powerful. They dealt with love differently. Dumbledore who embraced it, understood its power and used it for greater good, while Grindelwald, who did not understand this love, ultimately chose darker path,” he says, adding, “But love is love. Their’s is a sad love story. They just weren’t lucky enough to be together. This is the reality for many LGBTQ+ members.” While Shinde chooses to focus on the magical love story, he does point out that it metaphorically reflects the problems faced by the LGBTQ+ community. 
 
Sumeet Sirohi, 23-year -old Bengaluru-based lawyer, is happy with the way the franchise has tried to normalise homosexuality. “Kids who will be seeing the film, or reading about it, will feel that there’s nothing wrong with homosexuality. It has normalised it in a general sense,” he says. 

While Dumbledore is a character who had all the answers and is someone who the wickedest of villains would prefer not to mess with, Grindelwald is the role-model of Voldemort, a villian that other villians look up to for inspiration. Both exude typical masculine qualities in a traditional sense. But the aspect of being gay added a different dynamic to their personalities that delightfully breaks stereotypes.
 
Arjun Das, 30-year-old Mumbai-based fashion designer, was very excited when the film came out. “I was eagerly waiting for the movie to come out. But when I saw it, it was very disheartening. Nothing is shown to establish the relationship between Dumbledore and Grindelwald. It’s not clear that they were lovers before.” 

He makes the point that while the author claims that the characters are gay, why haven’t they made it evident on screen? What’s the point of making the comment about their relationship? “I felt like Rowling did it just as a publicity stunt. She said those things just to make her LGBTQ+ fans happy. Why didn’t she convince the director and producer to establish the gay love story? Her portrayal of the LGBTQ+ characters could have changed the mind set of the entire generation. She just missed the chance to do a proper job of it and used the comment to get a thumbs up from the LGBTQ+ community,” says he. 

Randy Scarhol, 24 year-old model, drag queen, and architecture student, who also happens to be a  transwoman, believes that one should not pay much heed to controversy on Rowling’s words. “I don’t think it’s that deep. Dumbledore and Grindelwald were young, they were homosexual, of course there was sexual tension. And this isn’t brand new information either. What I find absolutely brilliant is the way the internet has reacted to it. It truly is a testament to our culture and ever evolving sense of humour. However, I would like to actually see the homosexuality on screen. We’re not here for queerbating wizards. We have enough of that in real life already,” says Scarhol.

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