Monday, October 22, 2007

Harry Potter as Homophobia Litmus Test

So perhaps by now you've heard: Dumbledore is gay. While I don't really care one way or the other*, I've found it really interesting to talk to people about it. At BYU, a conservative university by all accounts--especially on issues of homosexuality, the response has been almost universally negative, at least from the few people I've brought it up with. When I ask why they care so much--they all get somewhat mad about it--the general answer has been that they feel J.K. Rowling only did it out of some pro-gay agenda, to make homosexuality appear "normal." I have pointed out to them that many people are, indeed, born gay and that our church has even said that at least some people will not be able to overcome homosexual attractions in this life. But the fact remains, none of my friends seem comfortable with a beloved character in a children's book being gay.

At least from the BBC article, it appears that Rowling was pretty reluctant to go public with the news of Dumbledore's sexual orientation, only doing so to answer a question about whether he found "true love." That doesn't sound like a very rabid pro-gay, nuclear-family-destroying woman with an agenda to make everyone vote to legalize same-sex marriages. Can't we at least give her the benefit of the doubt, that she included a character who, like many of her readers and many people all over the world, is attracted to members of the same sex? I don't see that as even advocating homosexuality, it's more of a question of being realistic. I have no idea how many total characters there are in Harry Potter*, but I know it's a lot. Enough that if it were real life, chances are there would certainly be at least one with same gender attractions. Is it so bad to mirror real life?

I don't think my friends are consciously homophobic, but they certainly aren't comfortable with anyone they thought they respected and admired turning out to be gay. The fact that a person's sexual orientation would make him or her somehow less in their eyes is sad to me. I know my friends are better than that, it's just ignorance of the issue. I don't think most of them have ever met a person who was both openly Mormon and gay. But how do you go about changing people's perspectives on such a sensitive topic?

*Disclaimer: I once read about the first ten or twenty pages of one of the Harry Potter books and wasn't very entertained, and I saw the first movie and hated it (though I hear the later ones are supposed to be better), but that isn't what this post is about. That's just to let you know I have very little actual knowledge of, or interest in, the Harry Potter universe.

1 comment:

  1. I have a sad story about this. I also have a few funny ones too. I guess I just have a more open-minded set of friends.