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Fantastic Beasts 2: JK Rowling hits back at angry fans over Dumbledore ‘straightwashing’ row

Nick Duffy February 1, 2018
JK Rowling at the Royal Albert Hall

JK Rowling at the Royal Albert Hall (John Gichigi/Getty Images)

JK Rowling has hit back at fans who are upset that her only gay character’s sexuality will not be explored in an upcoming Harry Potter film.

The Harry Potter author made headlines in 2007 when she famously proclaimed that beloved Hogwarts headmaster Albus Dumbledore was gay.

His sexuality was never portrayed in the main book or film franchise, but the books hinted at a relationship between Dumbledore and the dark wizard Grindelwald in his younger days.

Fans had hoped that relationship would finally come front-and-centre thanks to prequel series Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them, with Jude Law set to play a young version of Dumbledore in upcoming instalment Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald.

Their hopes were dashed this week when director David Yates confirmed that the character would not be portrayed as “explicitly gay” in the film – despite both Dumbledore and Grindelwald being central to the plot.

Today JK Rowling took to Twitter to hit back at abuse she received on the subject.

Jude Law as Dumbledore

She said: “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 instalment in, is obviously tons of fun, but you know what’s even *more* fun?”

The author then posted an image with the word ‘MUTE’, suggesting she was blocking out messages from abusive critics.

PinkNews asked Rowling’s rep whether she would like to respond specifically to LGBT fans or give an interview on the subject herself. Our interview request was declined.

Fans had reacted to anger after Yates shot down hopes for a gay storyline.

Asked by a fan whether Dumbledore’s sexuality would be dealt with, he said: “Not explicitly”.

According to EW he said: “I think all the fans are aware of that. He had a very intense relationship with Grindelwald when they were young men. They fell in love with each other’s ideas, and ideology and each other.”

He added of Dumbledore: “He’s a maverick and a rebel and he’s an inspiring teacher at Hogwarts. He’s witty and has a bit of edge. He’s not this elder statesman. He’s a really kinetic guy. And opposite Johnny Depp as Grindelwald, they make an incredible pairing.”

Michael Gambon as Dumbledore

Fans – many of whom already objected to the casting of Johnny Depp as Grindelwald amid domestic violence allegations – have responded with anger at the news that the important piece of Harry Potter canon may be twisted to avoid referencing Dumbledore’s sexuality.

Many called for a fan boycott of the film and called on Rowling, who had previously hinted that the relationship would finally be explored on-screen in the films, to speak out.

The row comes amid a wider debate about the erasure of LGBT characters in global blockbuster films.

Major film franchises that are marketed globally – such as the Marvel Cinematic Universe, the Star Wars films and Harry Potter universe – almost never feature LGBT content.

Industry insiders say that studio bosses are unwilling to risk upsetting film censors in overseas markets where portrayal of same-sex relationships remains restricted.

Rowling’s work has long faced criticism for never once including a visible LGBT character, despite the Harry Potter universe being packed with heterosexual couples.

Though she began work on the book series in the 1990s, fans have questioned why the author has never addressed the topic.

JK Rowling last year hinted that the relationship between Dumbledore and Grindelwald will be central to the upcoming film.

She said: “Grindelwald is going to become a much more prominent feature moving forward.I can tell you that we do talk about Dumbledore and Grindelwald.

“I’m not allowed to say too much but I can say one thing… we were doing some script sessions the other day, and we always knew it would be more than one movie. But I’ve now done the plotting properly, and we’re pretty sure it’s going to be five movies.”

It’s hard to see how Dumbledore’s sexuality never comes up – given the synopsis makes clear both he and Grindelwald will be central to the upcoming film.

The official Warner Bros synopsis states: “The film opens in 1927, a few months after Newt helped to unveil and capture the infamous Dark wizard Gellert Grindelwald.

“However, as he promised he would, Grindelwald has made a dramatic escape and has been gathering more followers to his cause – elevating wizards above all non-magical beings.

“The only one who might be able to stop him is the wizard he once called his dearest friend, Albus Dumbledore.

“But Dumbledore will need help from the wizard who had thwarted Grindelwald once before, his former student Newt Scamander.

“The adventure reunites Newt with Tina, Queenie and Jacob, but his mission will also test their loyalties as they face new perils in an increasingly dangerous and divided wizarding world.”

More: Albus Dumbledore, Dumbledore, Fantastic Beasts 2, Gay, JK Rowling, LGBT, row, straightwashing

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