jude law as dumbledore

David Yates Backtracks and Says It’s “Clear” Dumbledore Is Gay in Fantastic Beasts 2 After All

So what is the truth?
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In today’s installment of “What In The World Is Going On With Fantastic Beasts,” director David Yates has come forward to set the record straight (pun intended) on whether or not Dumbledore’s sexuality would be clear in the upcoming sequel.

Previously, Yates and actor Jude Law came under some fire for treating Dumbledore’s sexuality as something that wouldn’t play a part in the film, despite it being key to the story. Naturally, people were upset. I was definitely upset. Now, as we draw closer to release, Yates and company are backtracking on that statement, probably out of fear that between this and the Nagini controversy, Potter fans might not be flocking to the film.

Yates told Empire Magazine that he was “misunderstood” when he spoke about Dumbledore’s sexuality. “In that earlier interview, I didn’t say Dumbledore’s not gay. He is. This part of this huge narrative that Jo is creating doesn’t focus on his sexuality, but we’re not airbrushing or hiding it … the story [of the romantic relationship] isn’t there in this particular movie but it’s clear in what you see… that he is gay. A couple of scenes we shot are very sensual moments of him and the young Grindelwald.”

And admittedly there are some scenes in the new trailer that point to that, including a very romantic scene involving a younger Dumbledore touching hands with an image of younger Grindelwald in the Mirror of Erised (this was presumably before he turned into a naked mole rat played by alleged abuser Johnny Depp and lost any sort of desirability). But the question still stands: will the film make Dumbledore’s sexuality actual canon, or will it just hint at it and hope for the audience to rely on their outside knowledge to put one and two together?

Law seemed to somewhat get it after his earlier comments about how sexuality doesn’t matter when he said: “People are very passionate about these stories and that particular topic doesn’t just deal with the characters in the book but people in real life dealing with their sexual orientation … so I can understand why it was emotionally charged.”

Yes, it is very emotionally charged. We’re in 2018 and a major LGBT+ character in a blockbuster who’s not a joke, who doesn’t die, and who gets a romantic arc is as rare as Professor Snape being kind to a student not in Slytherin. Dumbledore already falls into tropes with his tragic love story, but at least he’s a prominent figure, and we’re aching to be seen on screen.

And yet, we have to settle for what we get in this film. Yates says the relationship will unfold over the course of the five films, but why do we have to wait? Why can’t this play a bigger role in the story from the get-go to establish emotional stakes and make the representation clear? LGBT+ representation should not be a waiting game where fans have to hope that things will go canon, because the need for LGBT+ characters is very pressing.

Franchises on the whole treat sexuality as a spoiler, or as somethings fan will have to wait for. We shouldn’t have to wait for it, though, as LGBT+ people exist in real life and deserve to see themselves reflected onscreen. We see it time and time again. The only thing that separates Yates from Marvel’s “oh they’re there, but we haven’t said anything” act or Star Wars‘s constant “will he won’t he” dance with Poe Dameron is that we know Dumbledore is gay from J.K. Rowling’s comments. So this is even more of a slap in the face.

Rowling has come under fire for her retroactive and often deeply flawed representation. By having Dumbledore’s sexuality be clear from the get-go and not just teasing it, she could (ever so slightly) start to undo the damage her words have caused. Instead, she, like many straight writers, sees sexuality as something that only matters when it comes to heterosexual pairings. Those of us who are LGBT+ have to wait until the right time, because heaven forbid we get actual representation and distract from pairing off every straight character with their high school sweethearts.

It’s almost too little, too late. Rowling’s decision to include the Nagini twist and her inability to stop trying to retcon her books to be progressive has already tainted the Potter experience for some fans, and let’s not even tackle her terrible defense of Johnny Depp’s casting.

So we’re left with a franchise that hasn’t progressed along with the audience. If Yates and Rowling are not careful, they will get left behind as viewers flock to franchises where they can see themselves represented. Nostalgia might be a powerful magic, but it cannot fix everything.

(via Hypable; Image: Warner Bros)

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Image of Kate Gardner
Kate Gardner
Kate (they/them) says sorry a lot for someone who is not sorry about the amount of strongly held opinions they have. Raised on a steady diet of The West Wing and classic film, they are now a cosplayer who will fight you over issues of inclusion in media while also writing coffee shop AU fanfic for their favorite rare pairs.