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Gay Dumbledore controversy: J.K. Rowling mutes the 'Fantastic Beasts 2' backlash

Gwynne Watkins
Writer, Yahoo Entertainment
Jude Law as a young Dumbledore, with Johnny Depp as Grindelwald in the Fantastic Beasts sequel. (Photo: Warner Bros.)

Harry Potter fans just want to know whether Dumbledore — specifically, the younger, hotter Dumbledore played by Jude Law — will get to have a romantic side in Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald. Author J.K. Rowling declared in 2007 that the beloved Hogwarts headmaster was gay, and that he had a youthful crush on Gellert Grindelwald (now played by Johnny Depp). Since that aspect of Dumbledore’s life wasn’t explored in the original books or films, The Crimes of Grindelwald seemed like a golden egg-ortunity for screenwriter Rowling to let the character’s true colors shine. That hope was dashed after director David Yates told Entertainment Weekly that Law’s Dumbledore won’t be “explicitly” gay. And now Rowling has declared that she has no patience for the backlash.

“Being sent abuse about an interview that didn’t involve me, about a screenplay I wrote but which none of the angry people have read, which is part of a five-movie series that’s only one installment in, is obviously tons of fun,” Rowling wrote Wednesday on Twitter, “but you know what’s even *more* fun?” That post is followed by a GIF that says “Mute,” meaning that Rowling is removing the haters’ tweets from her timeline.

This tweet from Rowling (who wrote 2016’s Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them and is attached to all four of the announced sequels) suggests that the fan backlash is premature, either because there are hints of Dumbledore’s sexuality in the screenplay, or because it will be revealed in a future installment. However, Yates’s interview suggests that it will be all subtext, which is naturally disheartening to fans who would like to see a single gay lead character in a major film franchise. (Star Trek: Beyond fleetingly revealed that Sulu is gay, but the future of that particular character and franchise seem uncertain.) After all, the last time a director put an “exclusively gay moment” in a studio tentpole, it was a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it flirtation between LeFou (Josh Gad) and a male chorus member in Bill Condon’s live-action Beauty and the Beast. If that qualifies as explicit, then what qualifies as non-explicit: Dumbledore reading Oscar Wilde?

Sadly, it seems that financial considerations could be keeping Dumbledore’s love life at bay. Forbes.com points out that some lucrative overseas markets, particularly China and Russia, are opposed to showing films with gay-friendly themes. Without those audiences, it’s hard to make a profit on expensive, effects-heavy films like the Fantastic Beasts movies. And yet — if anyone is good at persuading worldwide audiences to root for an unlikely hero, it’s Rowling. Here’s hoping that she and Warner Bros. have the nerve to let Dumbledore out of the magic closet.

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