J.K.’s surprising revelation about Dumbledore

Just a little over a year ago, on August 2, 2006, J.K. Rowling made a statement at her reading in New York City, at Radio City Music Hall, that was big news and related directly to what we talk about on this web site. She said Dumbledore was, and even mentioned this web site (which used to be called dumbledoreisnot.com) by name. Well, tonight she’s done it again.
This evening, again in New York City, this time at Carnegie Hall, J.K. Rowling dropped a bombshell on the Harry Potter fan community. When asked by a fan if Dumbledore ever loved anyone, J.K. Rowling replied Dumbledore was
. Reports from the scene say a hush fell over the crowd and then it broke out in applause, to which J.K. replied that if she had known that would be the response, she would’ve revealed her thoughts on Dumbledore earlier.
She went on to say that while she was reading Steve Kloves’ script for Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, she came across a passage in which Dumbledore was reminiscing about past loves, and she corrected it by crossing it out and scrawling “Dumbledore is” in the margin. I, personally, was very surprised by this news. Not that I thought there couldn’t be Wizards and not that I’d have anything against them if they were. (Lockhart is obviously, for example, and I think fans assume the whole Wizarding world knows it, and doesn’t care… And he’s one of our favorite characters.) It’s just that I never for minute suspected it about Dumbledore. But, looking back, should we have seen clues that this was true?
We learned a great amount about Dumbledore in the final book that we never knew before, especially about his past. J.K. herself tonight said Dumbledore’s being
explains why he was originally taken in by Grindelwald, that it started off as an infatuation. Looking back at the book, the clues hinting at this are all there. In the excerpt from The Life and Lies of Albus Dumbledore, Rita Skeeter says Bathilda Bagshot says, about the young Grindelwald:
“He seemed a charming boy to me,” babbles Bathilda, “whatever he became later. Naturally I introduced him to poor Albus, who was missing the company of lads his own age. The boys took to each other at once.” (DH pg 356/291)
Also in her book, Skeeter says Grindelwald was expelled from Durmstrang at sixteen years old, and was forced to leave the country, “traveling abroad for some months”. We know Durmstrang isn’t shy about teaching the dark arts. Is it possible more than experimenting with dark magic caused Grindelwald’s falling out with Durmstrang?
And then later, Bathilda says something funny about Ariana’s:
“Albus was beside himself at Ariana’s
… A shame Gellert could not have stayed for the
… He would have been a comfort to Albus, at least…” (DH pg 358/292)
Was Grindelwald
too? Or was he just good at stringing people along, telling them what they wanted to hear, for his own purposes?
And in ly Hallows, one of the earliest things we learn about Dumbledore’s past is told to us by Elphias Doge, in his eulogy of Dumbledore, when he says that after graduation from Hogwarts, he and Dumbledore had, in his words, “intended to take the then-traditional tour of the world together”. In my first readings of the book, I took that phrasing to mean that it was traditional for Wizards to do that together. But is it possible that it was the trip itself that was the tradition, and that there was more than just a friendship between Elphias and Dumbledore?
Were there other, earlier signs in the books that Dumbledore was
? In Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, after Sirius has
d, Dumbledore tells Harry,
“You fought a man’s fight. I was … prouder of you than can say.” (OotP pg 837/738)
“I cared about you too much. I cared more for your happiness than knowing the truth.” (OotP pg 838/739)
“I never dreamed that I would have such a person on my hands.” (OotP pg 839/739)
I’m not suggesting that anything ever happened between Dumbledore and Harry, nor am I suggesting Dumbledore ever wanted something to happen. But in the same way it sparked his relationship with Grindelwald, can we not say that his
ity allowed Dumbledore to feel a special bond between Harry and himself, a bond normally reserved for a boy and a relative, like a father or older brother?
And what of Dumbledore’s relationships with other men? We know Snape is
because of his un
feelings for Lily. But could Dumbledore’s platonic affection for Snape help to explain why he trusted Snape when everyone else thought he was a fool to do so?
Ironically, of all the characters in the Harry Potter story, it was Harry himself who was the brunt of the rumors of being
, as he had grown up “in the closet”. Also, had he not gone to Hogwarts, the Dursleys told him he would attend Stonewall High. The Stonewall, a bar in New York City that was raided by the police in 1969, is an icon in the history of
rights. But ever since the first book, the Harry Potter story has gained a great number of fans who are
, because of how the story deals with Harry’s feeling “different”, and never understanding “what was wrong with him”, until he finally got to find out that there were others like him, when he went to Hogwarts.
J.K.’s admission about Dumbledore tonight opens up a whole part of the Wizarding world that we previously could only guess about. Can we infer from the way Lockhart was treated that the Wizarding world was generally permissive of ity? If so, why did Dumbledore hide that he was ? Does the fact that Dumbledore was
help to explain how and why he did what he did? Were you surprised by J.K.’s announcement? From what we were told in the book, should we have been able to guess that Dumbledore was

(Editors note: I understand this is potentially a controversial topic. Please keep all comments posted here respectful and adult. No judgmental comments
be allowed. Thank you.)

12 thoughts on “J.K.’s surprising revelation about Dumbledore”

  1. I never considered this, simply because Harry Potter was so often called a ‘children’s book’ (even though I don’t agree)… but hearing it now, and remembering his eccentric personality, it fits. I always assumed he never married or anything because of his love for power. I do wonder, though… did J.K. purposely never mention this in the books, because it would be too controversial? Would it place too much reality into the HP books, so that we couldn’t separate it from our own world? I just wonder if she always had Dumbledore as , in her mind… and why she wouldn’t have brought it up much sooner, in an interview. I wonder if she thought some people would stop reading. I wonder if she would randomly make him , for fun… not saying I think she would, only that I wonder if she would…

  2. This is crazy…it’s a children’s book, for goodness’ sake! If we go on like this we might as well say that Sirius is as well, or maybe even Peter Pettigrew, or Voldemort (no, he pretty much likes Bellatrix) J.K. Rowling has gone too far, turning a children’s book into a half-adult book, just to “gain a wider au nce”. It wasn’t necessary, anyway…

  3. I also feel that it may have been very unnoticeable, due to the very important fact that this was considered a “childrens’ book”, so to even assume or say that he was changes the way and feel of how and certainly who reads it.

  4. Yes, it does all fit and it does explain how Dumbledore could have been taken in by Grindelwald. However, I don’t see why it has to explain Dumbledore’s deep affection for Harry. Why can’t a brilliant man “connect” with a talented boy for intellectual reasons? Or, indeed, a power loving man be fascinated by the subject of such an important prophecy.

  5. I have always seen the Harry Potter books as a journey into our lives, just from a different stand point. The truth is that we all deal with these things nowadays, and the fact that Dumbledore is is a shocker, because we never thought how real these books are to our actual life. I started reading these books when they first came out in the USA, and as I read every book you could see them growing up along with me. Things I dealt with in my life and that i’m sure many pre-teens going into the hardest years of your life were dealt with too. I don’t blame her for not telling it straight on, I mean, it would of caused a lot of issues. parents still act as if they need to shield their children from reality… But now that we all know for sure. The question is, did we always know? There are points in the book that make you question and wonder, but speaking for myself, I never wondered about his , I think that now that I know I want to read the books again to see what is it I missed.

  6. So, he was . He was obviously celibate and frankly, it is only the business of Dumbledore. Does this take away from his sensibility? Does this make him any less compassionate? Absolutely not! None of this sexual preference stuff matters, but I am sure there are many who now turn this into some hideous reason to mound heaps of homophobic rubbish on the books and the author. Personally, I think not revealing such minor details was brilliant. There are too many who obsess on such information and it would have been a useless spoiler. Those of us who love these characters find them no less wonderful regardless of who they love. Still love you Professor Dumbledore.

  7. I knew it! All the clues were there! And if it weren’t for Tonks, Remus and Sirius would have so been together! Tonks was so lesbian! (Note: I’m a lesbian, so I mean nothing by saying that. She just has always seemed that way to me.)

  8. I don’t see the big deal about it, really. Although reading the ‘excerpts’ from Rita Skeeter’s book in DH, the idea popped into mind. Besides, the book’s done, and I don’t think Dumbledore’s really play a part in Harry’s quest.

  9. What difference does it make if he is? It’s a personal thing and… people who are taken back by this statement have to accept that it is an actual fact, and many like that live a normal and respectable life in the real world!

  10. I never would’ve thought that about Dumbledore! Now some people might view Dumbledore in a different way while reading the books. I don’t think JK Rowling should have revealed that. I wonder what made her see Dumbledore like that? I wonder if the teachers and students ever found out. I don’t think there were any clues in the book that could have led us to think that except for the fact that nothing was mentioned about Dumbledore loving anyone.

  11. Personally I think this is an amazing revelation! I am awed at JK Rowling’s courage. This is an great moment in the history of popular literature! Way to go Jo!

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