- JK Rowling first announced in 2007 that Albus Dumbledore was gay.
- For years, her sexuality was never depicted in any canon books or films in the franchise.
- Warning: major spoilers ahead for “Fantastic Beasts: Dumbledore’s Secrets”.
In 2007, “Harry Potter” author JK Rowling made a remark that will resonate with the franchise’s fandom for years to come. Speaking at Carnegie Hall that year, she said she had “always thought of Dumbledore as gay” – and that the relationship between him and his teenage friend Gellert Grindelwald had been romantic.
Since then, Dumbledore’s sexuality has only explicitly existed outside of one of the franchise’s main properties, and Rowling’s words have never been confirmed on screen. She hinted in 2016 that the character’s weirdness would play a role in the “Fantastic Beasts” movies, telling reporters to “watch this space,” Time Magazine reported at the time.
Almost fifteen years after Rowling first confirmed Dumbledore’s sexuality, it’s finally made it to the big screen.
Warning: major spoilers ahead for “Fantastic Beasts: Dumbledore’s Secrets”.
‘Dumbledore’s Secrets’ opens with Dumbledore and Grindelwald rehashing their history
“Dumbledore’s Secrets” doesn’t beat around the bush when it comes to establishing the relationship the two men had with each other.
In the film’s very first sequence, Dumbledore (Jude Law) and Grindelwald (Mads Mikkelsen, reprising the role of Johnny Depp) talk over tea. While their exchange starts out cordial, it later turns terse. Eventually, Dumbledore tells Grindelwald that he followed his plans “because I was in love with you”.
This is the first explicit confirmation in any “Harry Potter” movie, or canon material for that material, of Dumbledore’s love for Grindelwald, and by extension his sexuality.
The couple’s romantic past comes up throughout “Dumbledore’s Secrets”, and at one point Dumbledore describes his time with Grindelwald as “the summer Gellert and I fell in love”. After their confrontation at the end of the film, Grindelwald asks, “Who’s going to love you now, Dumbledore?”
Throughout the movie, there’s an obvious layer of tension between the two that wasn’t as evident in other movies. As Insider’s Kirsten Acuna wrote in her review of “Dumbledore’s Secrets,” Mikkelsen’s performance really sells their romantic past, as well as Grindelwald as a charismatic leader.
While their romantic relationship doesn’t progress any further than those painful one-liners in the movie — they don’t kiss, but they’re far from being together in this movie — the added layer of shared history and nuance makes the relationship between the two men all the more convincing.
Dumbledore’s sexuality has long been controversial, mostly because it has never been depicted on screen or in the books.
As Insider previously reported, Rowling has always had a habit of dropping new knowledge about the “Harry Potter” universe and its characters outside of the books and movies. Dumbledore’s sexuality is one such detail, as is the fact that, as the author tweeted in 2014Ravenclaw Anthony Goldstein is Jewish.
Rowling has been dropping information about Grindelwald and Dumbledore’s relationship since she was first revealed in 2007, such as in 2019 when she said the two had an “incredibly intense” relationship that also included a sexual aspect.
Over the years, people have increasingly criticized her for dropping anecdotes about the queer relationship, as opposed to information about it appearing in one of the books or movies in the series. Queer ‘Harry Potter’ fans told Insider in 2018 that they were disappointed that Dumbledore’s sexuality was not explicitly depicted in the second ‘Fantastic Beasts’ film, with one fan telling Insider that the decision implied that Dumbledore could “be gay in Rowling’s public appearance and tweets, but not on screen.”
This tension between Rowling’s words and what is depicted on screen has only increased as Rowling has repeatedly made transphobic remarks over the past few years. In addition to affecting the author’s legacy, Rowling’s ongoing transphobia has also colored how people view her work and the portrayal — or until ‘Dumbledore’s Secrets’, lack thereof — of LGBTQ people. in the franchise.
Lines referring to Dumbledore and Grindelwald’s previous relationship were cut during the film’s Chinese release
According to The Hollywood Reporter, Warner Bros. agreed to cut six seconds of dialogue referencing the couple’s romantic past from the film for its Chinese release. The lines “I was in love with you” and “Summer Gellert and I fell in love” were cut from the film.
“As a studio, we are committed to protecting the integrity of every film we release, and this extends to circumstances that require making nuanced cuts in order to respond sensitively to a variety of factors in the marketplace,” said a Warner Bros. spokesperson. The Hollywood Reporter.
“In the case of ‘Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore, a six-second cut was requested and Warner Bros. agreed to these changes to comply with local requirements, but the spirit of the film remains intact,’ the statement continued. .