Harry Potter series
This page is about the Harry Potter series. For the character, see Harry Potter.
The Harry Potter series, by J.K. Rowling, is a bestselling series of seven children's fantasy novels about a boy wizard named Harry Potter, as well as several tie-in books and a film series based on the novels.
No characters were openly LGBT in the series itself. However, J.K. Rowling has stated on Twitter that Hogwarts is a safe space for LGBT students.
At a book signing event at Carnegie Hall in New York City in 2007, after the publication of the 7th book, J.K. Rowling revealed that Harry's mentor and headmaster Albus Dumbledore is gay. In response to a fan question about whether Dumbledore had ever fallen in love, Rowling stated:
My truthful answer to you… I always thought of Dumbledore as gay. [ovation.] … Dumbledore fell in love with Grindelwald, and that that added to his horror when Grindelwald showed himself to be what he was. To an extent, do we say it excused Dumbledore a little more because falling in love can blind us to an extent? But, he met someone as brilliant as he was, and rather like Bellatrix he was very drawn to this brilliant person, and horribly, terribly let down by him. Yeah, that’s how i always saw Dumbledore. In fact, recently I was in a script read through for the sixth film, and they had Dumbledore saying a line to Harry early in the script saying I knew a girl once, whose hair… [laughter]. I had to write a little note in the margin and slide it along to the scriptwriter, "Dumbledore’s gay!" [laughter] "If I'd known it would make you so happy, I would have announced it years ago!"
In March 2015, a fan on Twitter asked Rowling, "I wonder why you said that Dumbledore is gay because I can't see him in that way." Rowling responded, "Maybe because gay people just look like ... people?"
Remus Lupin as an AIDS Metaphor
|May contain spoilers|
A fan notes that this choice comes with examples of both positive and negative representation and messages. For example:
"The wizarding community is as prone to hysteria and prejudice as the Muggle one," remarks Rowling, and Lupin's treatment at the hands of other wizards highlights this: the willful ignorance from the wizarding government mimics the denial of medical research (and thus treatment) is shown via Wolfsbane potion – which represents the drugs used to suppress AIDS – allows Lupin to avoid a violent transformation, and yet the potion is time-consuming and complex to make. As it is not widely available through St Mungo's, Lupin is left reliant on Severus Snape – the very man who ultimately outs him. Furthermore, Lupin is denied job security – even at Hogwarts, his job is only secure whilst his condition is secret; once outed, despite producing results even Wiltshaw couldn't scorn, he is forced to leave.
Lupin is, then, the "good" werewolf; attacked as a child, he does not deserve his condition or his suffering. He shuns the company of other werewolves until he is forced to spy on them for 'the greater good'. And what little discussion there is of other werewolves, however, is alarming when we pursue the 'werewolves as HIV positive' metaphor. Even if we accept Lupin as not being part of the LGBTQIA+ community (which many do not, as will be discussed later), we simply cannot refute the probability that a significant proportion others will be. And yet their characterisations are, at best, unsavoury: willfully shunning society (with little exploration of how society has shunned them) and literally animalistic: Lupin's biggest fear, as shown by a boggart in The Prisoner of Azkaban, is the full moon – converting without the aid of Wolfsbane potion. When he does convert in such a fashion, our plucky heroic trio is placed at considerable risk: as readers, our concern is almost never directed at the plight of werewolves, but towards the suffering they can cause to 'innocents'. Perhaps tying into one of the more malicious notions about LGBTQIA+ people is Fenrir Greyback, the werewolf who attacks maliciously, targeting children exclusively.
As a result of this, many fans considered Lupin likely to be queer and Alfonso Cuaron, director of the film Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban is even reported to have told actor David Thewlis to play Lupin like "your favorite gay uncle", but the character eventually married Nymphadora Tonks in the books - ironically, another character considered highly likely to be queer by fans due to her butch/punk appearance and shapeshifting abilities. (Of course, the marriage does not exclude the possibility of bisexuality for either character.)
Some fans have noted that for an ostensibly straight male, Harry seems to comment an awful lot on the handsomeness of other men, most notably Cedric Diggory. While this is likely due to the fact that the books were written by a heterosexual woman, some fans have argued that this can be taken as canon evidence for fan characterizations of Harry as bisexual.
The Harry Potter series acquired a large and extremely active fandom that remains a prolific producer of fanworks to this day.
Popularity of Slash and Femslash Fanworks
Despite (or perhaps because of) the lack of openly LGBT characters in canon, many slash and femslash ships are extremely popular in the fandom. For example, there are more than 95,000 fanworks tagged for the Harry Potter series on the popular fanfiction archive An Archive of Our Own, of which more than 46,000 are categorized as m/m slash and more than 4500 as femslash, including more than 14,000 Harry Potter/Draco Malfoy works, more than 7000 Sirius Black/Remus Lupin works, more than 6000 Harry Potter/Severus Snape works, more than 1800 Remus Lupin/Severus Snape works, and more than 1200 Harry Potter/Ron Weasley works, among many other pairings. The most popular femslash pairings include Luna Lovegood/Ginny Weasley, Hermione Granger/Ginny Weasley, Hermione Granger/Luna Lovegood, Hermione Granger/Pansy Parkinson, and Fleur Delacour/Hermione Granger.
With most of Harry's generation in heterosexual relationships at the end of canon, some fans have also latched on to the next generation as favorite subjects of slash and femslash fanworks, Scorpius Malfoy/Albus Severus Potter being a particular favorite.
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