On Friday, British author J.K. Rowling revealed for the first time that Albus Dumbledore, one of the central heroes in the record-breaking Harry Potter series, is in fact a gay man. Asked if Dumbledore, “who believed in the prevailing power of love,” had ever fallen “in love himself,” Rowling said that he once had with another male wizard.
While Rowling considers her novels to be a “prolonged argument for tolerance” and most fans were “thrilled with the announcement,” some conservative blogs are criticizing the revelation:
- Psycheout at Blogs 4 Brownback called it “revolting,” saying “Dumbledore is a gay homosexual who doesn’t deserve to live on G-d’s green earth.”
- At Redstate, dvdmsr says the revelation means that “Dumbledore was more flawed than I thought.”
- Don Surber wondered why the audience would “applaud” the revelation and suggested that Rowling was “knock[ing] the Christians” to “sell books.”
One prominent conservative blog, Newsbusters, is claiming that the revelation somehow vindicates the late Rev. Jerry Falwell, who was showered with ridicule in 1999 after declaring that one of the Teletubbies, Tinky Winky, was gay. Mark Finkelstein, a Republican official in upstate New York, writes that “somewhere, Jerry Falwell is smiling” about the news:
What’s that? It now turns out that Dumbledore is gay? That guy who was the headmaster at Harry Potter’s Hogwarts? Author J.K. Rowling said so herself? [...]
And while Falwell was thoroughly lambasted in the MSM for his suggestion, the Times tells us that Rowlings’s revelation inspired “applause.”
Somewhere, Jerry Falwell is smiling.
First, Harry Potter and the Teletubbies are completely unrelated. The sexual orientation of a character in one fictional world cannot vindicate claims about the sexual orientation of a separate character in a separate fictional world.
Even if Finkelstein’s larger point is that Falwell was right that some children’s entertainment include “undisclosed gay characters,” Falwell was wrong in his claim that the presence of a gay character is “damaging to the moral lives of children.” As Jacob Weisberg wrote in 1999, “there’s no scientific or psychological basis” for that claim:
There’s no scientific or psychological basis for believing that children are affected in their sexual development or eventual sexual orientation by exposure to homosexuality–on television or in real life. If the creators of cartoons are intentionally or unintentionally giving children the idea that gay people are part of the big, happy human family, that’s a good thing, not a bad one.
The audience applauded Rowling’s message because it was one of tolerance; Falwell was criticized because his one was of hatred, based on gay stereotypes. The need for tolerance is reinforced by the conservative blogosphere’s reaction to a fictional character being gay.