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21 October 2007 @ 02:06 am
Dumbledore, Pride and Prejudice, and rugby.  
What a strange day on lj. That minx JKR has 'revealed' that Dumbledore was gay. In terms of actual surprise value, this is up there with the facts that I am short, JFK was a man whore and the moon is pretty and shiny.

But I accept that there are people who may not have their gaydar sufficiently attuned to have tweaked to the many hints (beginning with high-heeled boots and a bow in his beard and really not letting up ...) and I love her cheekiness in revealing this in the same week as stating that the whole series has a deliberate Christian allegory behind it.

What DID surprise me were the reactions. There was a lot of squeeage, which I believe shows that we are still in fandom, Toto, some serious analysis of why it's an important statement (earth_magic pointed to a very smart reading by flamewarrior over here), and then some, to my eyes, quite off the wall responses.

The dominant one of this last group has been the complaint that she didn't proclaim Dumbledore's sexual orientation in canon. Which made me wonder: who expects the point of view of a teenage boy to encompass his headmaster's shagging preferences? There are few people more ready to pick up on the queer subtext than me (see below for explanation) and even I have been surprised through the years to meet teachers out of school and see who they were with. Some that I would have sworn were happily het were not, and vice versa. Some were once, and now aren't. School, despite many fictional assertions to the contrary, is not a place to parade the sexuality of teachers. They're too busy trying to keep a lid on the sexuality of students so that a spot of learning can take place.

Then there was the complaint that by proclaiming one character gay, she has closed off the option for all the others. To which I have no words, only hand gestures; big HOW???? style hand gestures. For the majority of characters, their sexuality remains fully open. Some have canonical suggestions towards homosex (Draco, Madame Hooch), others towards heterosex (Flitwick, Rita Skeeter (though I always thought she ogled too much and secretly went home to a lovely witch)), but for the most part sexuality plays a comparatively small role in what is essentially an action/quest story.

The final frequent complaint that startled me was that she outed someone whose great love was miserable. A lot of people have quoted unrequited, which I believe comes from the Newsweek article. The Leaky Cauldron's partial transcript and the other major news sources floating about do not contain the word unrequited, they say, rather, that Grindelwald let Dumbledore down horribly. Years of working in journalism lead me to believe that someone at Newsweek was projecting (unless further on-the-spot witnesses confirm).

So, taking the "He's aloowed to be gay, but not to have sex, who is JKR, the Pope in disguise?" complaint off the table, this leaves us with "She made his great love a miserable one!"

Fair enough, she did. I like to read Grindelwald's last scenes with Voldemort as a story of atonement and regret for what he put Albus through, you might read them differently, that's fine, but I'm not going to disagree with anyone that it's a doomed relationship. And the reason for this is not some perverse homophobia, it's because she's writing a novel that requires dramatic conflict. Dramatic conflict is the reason behind most angst in literature , and it needs to be there

This is Hamlet without dramatic conflict:

Polonius: Good Prince fresh home from England's verdant shores,
your mother bids you tend upon her now.

Gertrude: Hamlet my son, welcome to this our feast
To celebrate the love twixt King and Queen.

Hamlet: Unhand me, whore, I plunge this dagger deep
Between your breasts, and now I draw it hence and
draw again across the treach'rous throat
Of he who was my father's fell belov'd
Dear brother turned to killer and whose blood
I share and spill in equal part, now done
I take the crown and ask if there is one
Who would deny me Denmark, let him speak.

Omnes: No, we're good. Sounds perfectly fair to us, Your Majesty.

(Sorry, Shakespeare) Anyway, all of this has me thinking on the matter, and to leave fandom's meanderings behind, I am forced to admit that I am HOPELESSLY out of touch with much of the world on how 'Gay Issues' play.

Because in my house, they're not issues. My mum is gay (so very very gay that the fact of my birth never ceases to astonish me), Dad was and I am not particularly fussed about the gender of who we shag (which is NOT to say bisexual, because oh god the endless crapping on about the politics, it's more to say opportunistic, because I inherited his affable trampiness.) I have two out uncles and two closeted ones, two out great-aunts and one great uncle, I grew up with a mix of legal, hippie and arts people (all bastions of queerdom, the first and last more than the middle if truth be told) populating my world, and currently live in a suburb that has two gay pubs on the high street.

So when anyone starts to make a big fuss about promoting gay rights, on the one hand I think "That's nice!" but on the other hand I think "Fuck, how can we still be here? How I be this old and these discussions are still going on?"

Because twenty years ago I was at university and talking with a Tory about gay family rights and he said point-blank "Yes, dear, but think of what it will do to the children. Don't they have a right to grow up as you and I did?"

And once I'd stopped laughing (it took a while), I gently explained why he was an idiot. "But," he spluttered, "but you're so normal." Now of course, by that he meant feminine and poshly accented, but I agreed, because I really am very normal.

Where I think we stumble the most is that when we as a society think about 'Gay Issues', we do it with capitals and inverted comments. And of course that's idiotic. Because the rights of gays, women, the Sudanese, African Americans, children, Aboriginals, Jews, the Irish, paraplegics, Scots, the deaf, Muslims, atheists, the Welsh, men ... they're all human rights. They are all the same basic rights to live as human beings with independence and guaranteed respect within your community, and every time that we break away from that, we start to say that the rights of x are more important than the rights of y, we're buying into the whole cocked-up situation that we're allegedly trying to struggle against.

On a completely unrelated note, in a desperate bid to stay awake long enough to watch the rugby, I finally watched the most recent Pride and Prejudice and was horrified to realise they made alternative endings for British and American audiences. Why, Americans, why do film-makers patronise you so? I've met so many of you with giant brains, you produce The New Yorker, Harpers, The West Wing ... how can anyone believe that as a nation you are not capable of getting the fact that Lizzie and Darcy will snog after the credits roll?


Finally, I know it's unpatriotic, but I really would prefer Kimi Raikonnen win the F1 driver's championship, much as I like Lewis. And oh Jonny, I believe in you and the boys, but if the Springboks run around you massive, mighty forwards, know, oh Lions, that I will still love you. And that's only partially because you beat the Australians. Alas, I am now dying and must go to sleep if I hope ever to conquer the dark circles under my eyes.
Tags: , , ,
Current Location: my beloved sofa, avec cat
Current Mood: knackered
Current Music: F1 qualifying, ah Ferrari ...
Put the kettle onaubrem on October 20th, 2007 06:02 pm (UTC)
I love this post and I quite possibly love you - thought I only just now found you via friends friends comments.
blamebramptonblamebrampton on October 21st, 2007 10:41 am (UTC)
Why thank you! The more love, the better, I say! (And, judging by your icon you are a person of taste and refinement, so even better)
The Rec Ho...ravenqueen55 on October 20th, 2007 06:40 pm (UTC)
Brilliant. Absolutely brilliant observations. I said a similar thing not too long ago regarding gay marriage. Gay marriage is legal here in Canada, and a few months ago we had the first member of high government get married since the law came into being. There were a number of big name politicians at the ceremony, and I thought it was lovely to see. What I found even lovelier was that it didn't get a whole lot of press, and the press it did get was more along these lines ~ it was mentioned because it was the first time it had happened, not simply because it was a gay marriage of an in-office politician. I hope that some day gay marriage can take place a thousand times a day without anyone blinking an eye, but, in the meantime, I was pleased with the relaxed view the Canadian press took to such an event.
(Anonymous) on October 20th, 2007 06:50 pm (UTC)
You don't know me, but...just out of curiosity, do you happen remember who it was (surely not a conservative!)? I don't think I've ever heard of it. Goes to show how much the press didn't want to make a big deal of it (or perhaps how little me and my fellow Torontonians care about such things).

Meishali (who is actively trying to avoid LJ tracking her browsing habits)
(no subject) - ravenqueen55 on October 20th, 2007 07:09 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - blamebrampton on October 21st, 2007 10:46 am (UTC) (Expand)
Dedicated Escape Artist: Queersjadzialove on October 20th, 2007 06:42 pm (UTC)
You are magnificent, D!! I would kiss you if you weren't a world away.

Honestly, you've plucked the thoughts out of my brain so handily that I'd like to hire you to speak for me from now on. What say you? Then you could finish this Snarry_Hols fic for me and I could do some yummy reading instead. (or pervy ghosts!)

blamebramptonblamebrampton on October 21st, 2007 10:52 am (UTC)
Well, if you're happy to sound like a bossy Englishwoman with increasingly Australianised vowels and the odd attack of Welsh pronunciation leaping out from the distant past ... sure! (After five minutes your fiends will start sending you urgent SMSes saying "Make her go away, she's not very relaxing and I don't know what half her slang means!")

Glad that we're sharing a brain, though. Alas, my Snarry fic would run thusly: "So, Potter, why don't you stop bothering me and go and shag Draco, after you've been obsessed with him for years?" "Good point, sir, thanks for the tip." Pervy ghosts, though, is a date!
Leochileochi on October 20th, 2007 07:07 pm (UTC)
Excellent - agree on all that has already been said -
And I loved that you quoted Shakespeare :-))))
blamebramptonblamebrampton on October 21st, 2007 10:55 am (UTC)
Erm, yes, "quoted". Poor Will, he does not deserve this kind of bastardisation. But at least I know that he'd be arguing the same case.

And how good is your AD/GG!! I'm off to write another quick note of hurrah at your lj as soon as I finish up replying to comments here. It's delicious.
(Deleted comment)
blamebramptonblamebrampton on October 21st, 2007 11:01 am (UTC)
According to my DVD, the US has an ending with Elizabeth and Darcy outside Pemberley, being very sweet and ending with a snog. The rest of the world has the film ending with Mr Bennet's comments that he was available for any other would-be husbands who appeared that day. Elizabeth has already left in search of Darcy with a look of great hope and delight in her eyes.

I'm always happy with an open ending, but I accept that there are people who prefer the snogging. What made me rase my eyebrows was the idea that American audiences are somehow unable to deal with an open ending and need special one just for them. I blame producers who haven't watched enough American film from the 30s and 40s!
down the hills and round the bends: ad_dd_1norton_gale on October 20th, 2007 08:22 pm (UTC)
You'll have to tell us someday how your gay mum got together with your dad! Was it hippie experimentation?

The complaints about the outing are making me roll my eyes. I can't think of anything to complain about. JKR never had an obligation to tell us flat-out that Dumbledore was gay, and kudos to her for doing so. Think of what it means to a young person just beginning to understand their attraction to the same sex that a popular book character, perhaps the most powerful wizard in the series next to Voldie and HP, is gay as well. Although things have been looking up for us in the States recently (legal gay marriage in Massachusetts and coming soon to other states), homophobia is unfortunately alive and well here, and I think that the growing presence of gays in mainstream media will do much to sway the tide towards equal rights for all citizens.

And what is the canonical suggestion you're referring to in regard to Draco's homosexuality? As you know, I see subtext everywhere, and I wondered if you caught something I hadn't noticed.
blamebramptonblamebrampton on October 21st, 2007 11:19 am (UTC)
My mother the child bride! She was 16, he was v v pretty. It always made me wonder, and then I met her mother and I immediately understood. Ghastly woman. She did tell Dad she was quite a bit older, though ...

I know! The idea of abusing Jo because she wants to talk about her characters is just irrational. Everyone who writes knows lots about their characters and can tell you dozens of things that never reach the page. Writers like to blather on about their writing, why deny the richest writer in the world the same privilege that the newest fic writer has?

Running out of room, off for a second reply!
(no subject) - blamebrampton on October 21st, 2007 11:24 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - norton_gale on October 21st, 2007 04:00 pm (UTC) (Expand)
libby_drew on October 20th, 2007 09:02 pm (UTC)
Omnes: No, we're good. Sounds perfectly fair to us, Your Majesty.

SO wonderful! Awesome post. Wish I could give it more attention, but I'm flying out the door. ;) But had to let you know it made my afternoon. ♥
blamebramptonblamebrampton on October 21st, 2007 11:28 am (UTC)
Do not encourage me in my Bard bastardisation! It is wrong and I must stop it. (But if we ever meet, I'll do some of the shortened plays with actions, and you can throw things ...)
This brilliant Tuesday in this lonely placeno_mad_skillz on October 20th, 2007 09:53 pm (UTC)
Great post. Dumbledore was, especially, after Deathly Hallows, so clearly gay in my mind that I have a sort of *blink* response to those who now say "Why didn't she put it in the books, then?"

Why, Americans, why do film-makers patronise you so?

Thank you for that.
blamebramptonblamebrampton on October 21st, 2007 11:29 am (UTC)
Treating the nation that gave the world Capra and Howard Hawks as though they don't 'get' film ... it's just criminal!
Blindmouseblindmouse on October 20th, 2007 10:29 pm (UTC)
horrified to realise they made alternative endings for British and American audiences.

Good god. How ridiculous. I never knew that.

In terms of actual surprise value, this is up there with the facts that I am short, JFK was a man whore and the moon is pretty and shiny.

For me the surprise - and it was a HUGE surprise - was not that he could be gay, because, yes, he is something of a cliche in that respect - but that JKR had actually considered that overt homosexuality was possible within her universe. I hadn't seen a single hint of that.

Complaining that his love story was a tragic one - well, I've not read much of the fandom commentage yet, but I did rather expect that. The fact is though that through its inherent tragicness, Albus/Gellert is one of the most powerful love stories in the series. One of the only powerful ones, actually. Harry/Ginny got a tiny edge of her attention even in their getting together scene, Tonks/Lupin fell into a heap, but Albus/Gellert made a huge impact even before we knew outright that it was a romance.

The other powerful ones, for me, are Hermione/Ron and Severus/Lily. And one of those is as tragic (and unrequited) as they come.
blamebramptonblamebrampton on October 21st, 2007 11:40 am (UTC)
I agree with you on the power of the relationship. Even for younger children who are reading it only as a friendship betrayed, the depths of the betrayal are horrific.

As to no indications of any non-straight sexuality, oh come on ... she even descends to goat jokes! But I do agree with you that this whole side of life is very much sublimated through the whole series, with Ron/Hermione being the best example of how much the war costs in personal terms.
Me: Ratatouillesilent__dreamer on October 20th, 2007 11:24 pm (UTC)
on P+P
Hi, I guess I'm sort of a lurker. Someone recommended the Sins of our Fathers Fic to me and I really enjoyed reading it/seeing all the HP progeny get nicely fleshed out and I've been reading your lj periodically after reading Sins of our fathers.

I liked your analysis of the Dumbledore "outing." I especially liked the undramatic Hamlet bit. lol

I'm mainly replying b/c of the P+P alternate ending in which Darcy and Lizzy start kissing and they talk about what they should call each other. I'm from the US, and I've heard that the British version just ends with Lizzy's dad in his office. I actually really liked the US P+P ending. It was really different from what I was expecting (a wedding scene) and it was neat getting a quick glimpse of Darcy/Lizzy married life. Also, I thought that ending w/ her dad in his office would have been a bit of an abrupt ending.

snottygrrl on October 21st, 2007 09:29 am (UTC)
Re: on P+P
dang it, now i need to get a region 1 copy of p&p i do find the office a horribly abrupt ending and always wish it were slightly different. [*pouts*]
Re: on P+P - blamebrampton on October 21st, 2007 11:52 am (UTC) (Expand)
Re: on P+P - snottygrrl on October 21st, 2007 11:14 pm (UTC) (Expand)
Re: on P+P - snottygrrl on October 22nd, 2007 07:16 am (UTC) (Expand)
Re: on P+P - blamebrampton on October 21st, 2007 11:50 am (UTC) (Expand)
snottygrrl on October 21st, 2007 09:27 am (UTC)
i want to say something horribly brilliant and intellectual to this, but it just makes me squee and bounce at the thought of meeting you and getting to really talk.

'sides, i've done to much this weekend already and i am completely shattered. [*falls ded*]

sorry about your lions
blamebramptonblamebrampton on October 21st, 2007 11:55 am (UTC)
You're going to be so disappointed when I sit there and obsess about tea and chocolate ...

It was a big weekend, wasn't it? Everyone I know had huge amounts on. Hope that Welly's weather is better now, it was stinking here.

And although my beloved Lions lost, they did so with valour and skill and I am still proud of them. And a bit keen on Jonny.
(no subject) - snottygrrl on October 21st, 2007 11:17 pm (UTC) (Expand)
spark_of_chaos: EKGspark_of_chaos on October 21st, 2007 12:27 pm (UTC)

I swear I had a big comment in agreement to the gay part of that post but it was cleanly swept away by your Kimi praise. I will return later and try to string the response back together. :) :loves F1 with a mad passion:
blamebramptonblamebrampton on October 21st, 2007 12:40 pm (UTC)
Yay! Fellow tragic! I'm so conflicted, because I like Lewis a lot, even though I do think that Ron has been a bit ghastly towards Alonso (because Stepneygate was just WRONG), but I'm not sure I can bear another year of Kimi's stoicism in the face of the universe conspiring against him.

I can't help loving Kimi. When Louise was interviewing him early in the year after his car blew up (again) he said something along the lines of "Yeah, well, these things seem to happen to me ..." and I was just a well of sympathy! And Mark Webber's looking good, too, which should thrill the household Australian. He and DC are the only drivers in the paddock with worse luck than Kimi ...
(no subject) - spark_of_chaos on October 21st, 2007 12:57 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - blamebrampton on October 21st, 2007 01:26 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - spark_of_chaos on October 21st, 2007 04:02 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - spark_of_chaos on October 21st, 2007 05:36 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - (Anonymous) on October 21st, 2007 09:09 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - blamebrampton on October 21st, 2007 09:10 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - spark_of_chaos on October 21st, 2007 10:32 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - spark_of_chaos on October 21st, 2007 10:30 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - blamebrampton on October 22nd, 2007 10:04 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - spark_of_chaos on October 26th, 2007 02:39 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - blamebrampton on October 22nd, 2007 02:23 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - spark_of_chaos on October 26th, 2007 02:36 pm (UTC) (Expand)
Blindmouseblindmouse on October 27th, 2007 12:37 am (UTC)

a) because I think you should always know if you've been rec'd, and

b) brandil's one of the more discerning reccers.
blamebramptonblamebrampton on October 29th, 2007 01:51 pm (UTC)
Thanks! Your story is still underway, so many good things!