Don’t get me wrong, I love Fantastic Beasts. Basically I love almost everything set in the wizarding world (apart from Cursed Child among other things). Yet the sequel to 2016’s Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them is overshadowed by a lot of controversy. The initial controversy started over Johnny Depp still being cast as Grindelwald. That in itself did not deter me from the franchise. The whole situation surrounding Depp is too vague for me to decide to boycott him. But everybody is entitled to their own opinion. What does not sit well with me is David Yates’ latest confirmation that Dumbledore’s sexuality is not touched upon in the upcoming film. That is problematic for a variety of reasons.
Dumbledore’s sexuality in the novels
In all seven books, it was never once mentioned that Dumbledore was gay. His intense relationship with Grindelwald is a major topic in the last book, however, Rowling never mentioned that they were in love. She did not reveal Dumbledore’s sexuality until all books were released and the films were well on their way. While it is of course a missed opportunity, the books were published in the 90s and early 2000s. Back then, homosexuality was still a big issue. In 2001, the Netherlands was the first country in the world to legalise gay marriage. So in a way it is understandable that Rowling did not put it in the books yet.
So what is up with The Crimes of Grindelwald?
Despite the fact that Dumbledore’s sexuality was an afterthought in the novels, Rowling had the perfect opportunity to include it in the upcoming film. Jude Law stars as a young Albus Dumbledore opposite Johnny Depp. It would be a perfect opportunity to include Dumbledore’s sexuality in the film. But Yates said the following in a recent interview:
“Not explicitly,” Yates said when asked if the film makes it clear that Dumbledore is gay. “But I think all the fans are aware of that. He had a very intense relationship with Grindelwald when they were young men. They fell in love with each other’s ideas, and ideology and each other.”
Why is this not enough?
Look, nobody is expecting Dumbledore to run around with a rainbow flag and yell “YASS SLAY QUEEN YAS” whenever Newt does something right. He does not even have to say, “Yo Newt, I am super duper in love with Grindelwald despite him being an asshole.” I mean, it would be understandable that Dumbledore is not proud of his crush considering Grindelwald’s evil deeds. But honestly, just having him throw longing glances at Grindelwald is not enough. He does not have to wave a banner. But it has to be clear that this influential character is madly in love with Grindelwald and that that is the reason why he had such a hard time confronting the love of his life.
“But the fans know!”
Yes, hardcore fans know. But the audience does not only consists of hardcore fans. There will be plenty of casual viewers who are not necessarily aware about Dumbledore’s sexuality. It is not enough to say that the fans know. This is such an excellent opportunity to have an influential character represent the gay community. The only reason I can think of why it should not be addressed, is because they are afraid to alienate a certain audience. Considering the Harry Potter series has been about love and acceptance, this seems like a strange reason to me. It is 2018 and we have to step up our game.
J.K. Rowling, it’s up to you now.