Tuesday, Oct. 23 at Noon ET

The Outing of Albus Dumbledore

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Melissa Anelli
Editor, The Leaky Cauldron Web site
Tuesday, October 23, 2007; 1:00 PM

Author J.K. Rowling surprised faithful "Harry Potter" readers this weekend by announcing that the beloved wizard Albus Dumbledore was gay. Melissa Anelli of The Leaky Cauldron Web site was online Tuesday, Oct. 23 at noon ET to discuss reactions to the revelation, the cultural impact and if it will change views of the books.

A transcript follows.

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Melissa Anelli: Hello all! I'm excited to be here talking about this important issue; I've been following this fandom for seven years (and am even writing a book about it!) and I've never seen such a response from, well, anything J.K. Rowling has said. So, let's get going!

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Wyoming: Melissa -- thanks for everything you do! Leaky is an amazing resource and we, the fans, are grateful for all you do. In any of your meetings with Jo, did you ever have any inkling that Dumbledore was gay?

Melissa Anelli: Thanks Wyoming!

No, Jo never intimated to me that Dumbledore was gay, but then, I never asked. That would have been a big secret to keep so I'm glad she didn't entrust me with it!

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Adelaide, Australia: This information shows us just how much Dumbledore has suffered in his private life - both in losing family members, estrangement from his brother and the one person he ever fell in love with letting him down very badly. In the time when Harry gets to know him, Dumbledore does seem to be fairly content with his life. Do you believe that Dumbledore was happy? Also, do you think that Dumbledore understood Snape so well because he himself had suffered unrequited love?

Melissa Anelli: Hi Adelaide:

I'm not sure if Dumbledore was happy but I do think that a long life afforded him peace. I, like many, really hope that Dumbledore found love after Grindelwald, but I also think it informed a lot of his guilt and secrecy - he was so let down, that it was probably hard for him to trust for awhile. Then again, his belief in the prevailing power of love, as it was so eloquently put Friday night, was very strong - it says so much more of him that it was this strong after such a disappointment, don't you think?

As for Snape: Yes, I do, but also remember what he said to him in the pensieve: "Still?" As in, your love was unrequited and you're STILL pining all these years? I think that moment is particularly poignant now; Dumbledore's past disappointment creeped in a little there, I think.

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Towson, Md.: Who the hell cares if a gay character is fictional?

Melissa Anelli: LOL! I think you mean if a fictional character is gay, but this is an excellent point. Many people are saying, "Who cares?" We can't forget that Harry Potter means a great deal to a great many people, so if this will affect their affection for the series, then I think it's a relevant point. We all care about Harry and what he has done to the world, and to us. That's why it's such a hot button issue.

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Boston: Do you think that Dumbledore not being "out" to the wizarding world is a reflection of similar homophobia in that world as in the Muggle world? and how do you think this revelation will affect the lack of information about other single characters' romantic lives? e.g. Sirius Black, Professor McGonagall. I know I'm more curious now to know the backstory on these other single characters.

Melissa Anelli: I'm not sure that he wasn't "out." It seems to be less of an issue - if Rita Skeeter didn't turn it up, it seems that it wasn't a huge prejudice in JKRowling's world. Dumbledore lived 150 years - surely he would have dropped glues to his sexuality that someone as despicable as Rita could have wormed out of someone. JK Rowling has taken the normal prejudices and thrown them out and given the wizarding world its own set of prejudices that don't include the ones we deal with. Remember there's a lot of interracial dating in Harry Potter and no one bats an eye. Prejudice there is the full wizarding content of your ancestry, not whether you're white or straight. I think. :)

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Foggy Bottom: What does it matter that JK Rowling says that Dumbledore is gay? The books have been published and it would seem that the opportunity to make that revelation relevant has passed.

If she truly wanted to make a statement, shouldn't she have written it into the books? The whole thing smacks of a desperate attempt to keep HP in the news.

Melissa Anelli: If there is one person in the world who understands how little Harry Potter needs to be kept in the news, it's J.K. Rowling. The idea that she's publicity hounding or money grubbing goes against everything we know about her. She has constantly stood up for the disenfranchised: the bullied, girls who feel down about themselves because of their weight, abused children in Czechoslovakia, and more. This is just another way she is showing her beliefs. She was asked a question, and she answered.

It matters that she says he's gay, because if she says he's gay, he is, and she was asked if he had ever found love.

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Fairfax County, Va.: What do you think about the idea that J.K. Rowling should stop sharing information from outside the actual printed books, as per the recent article in Salon? I agree with that columnist that this is the bigger question beyond the statement that Dumbledore is gay.

I find myself torn about this. Her disclosures do close down lots of fun conversations among fans who have different ideas about the fates of the characters, but on the other hand, I also enjoy hearing from her about the rest of the universe. Where do you draw the line between the value of "revelations" about our fictional friends and leaving room for people's imaginations to fill in those details? Also, do you see Ms. Rowling continuing to add details, even major details, indefinitely, or is she in a "letting go" phase that will taper off in a year or two?

Melissa Anelli: I just read the article in Salon and I agree that it's a relevant question - when should an author stop revealing things about her books?

Personally, I feel that I would love nothing more than to get a page-by-page catalog of everything she's got in those boxes. I know I'm not like every other fan, who would like to spin tales about the existing books unfettered by future revelation. However, even if she were to go on forever and ever, she would never leave us without room to think, and play, and fantasize about her world. There's too much information there, for one, and secondly, if there's one thing I know about this fandom it's that we can spin tales forever.

I think this is a big phase of discussion that will taper off, though I hope she continues to drop tidbits about the world for many years. Just look at the Philip Pullman "His Dark Materials" series - there are followup books and yet more stories to be told. JKR doesn't have the intention of writing followup books but she is giving us some of that information anyway. That's fun for a fan, too.

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Milford, Conn.: Did JKR wait until all of the books were published before "outing" Dumbledore to reduce the potential commercial hit? The folks calling for boycotts due to the magical elements probably wouldn't be thrilled at the idea of a gay headmaster either.

Melissa Anelli: I can't speak to JK Rowling's reasons for her timing, but I don't think there will be a large commercial hit. A few thousand, even a few hundred thousand, abstentions from buying these books will not end this phenomenon or significantly slow down their commercial progress.

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Evansville, Ind.: Why did Jo choose to reveal this piece of information? It doesn't bother me personally at all (I find it amusing more than anything), but it is going to bother the parents of children who allow their kids to read the books. I just don't think this was prudent information to reveal because it doesn't show up or affect anything in the books, but the parents aren't going to know that. They're going to think they've been letting their children read something really bad. I think it is awfully brave of Jo to say such a thing out loud, but you have to keep in mind these are supposedly "children's books."

Melissa Anelli: The thing to remember is that the books haven't changed in the slightest. A lot of people say, "Why introduce sex into the books?" to which I say, there was already sex in the books. Not the actual sex act, of course, but plenty of pairing up, flirting, marriage, children, etc. If you thought the books were OK for your children to read beforehand you should feel fine with them reading them now - no one's going into the epilogue and writing, "All was well. P.S., Dumbledore's gay!" Dumbledore is still the same role model he ever was. Anyone who has trouble with his character as written in the books now, should revisit their perceptions, perhaps, and not the text.

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Grand Junction, Colo.: Melissa, how did you react when you first heard the news?

Melissa Anelli: I was sitting at Carnegie Hall behind John Noe, one of my best friends and Leaky staffers, and when she said it I launched forward and grabbed his arm so hard he jumped. I just couldn't believe what I had heard. That was all in that infamous "pause" that happened right after she said it. Then I joined everyone else in the ovation.

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Arlington, Va.: While this announcement is interesting, it does NOTHING to diminish my love of the series. I feel I should go back and re-read all seven books to pick up on any stray clues. And to all those people who are becoming unhinged at this revelation, I've got three words for you: GET A LIFE. Any people who are upset about this probably are of the Harry-Potter-is-evil-and has-no-redeeming-value-and-teach witchcraft club. People who care that Dumbledore is gay don't matter.

Melissa Anelli: I'm so glad it doesn't diminish your love of the series. I want to reread the books as well for fun, to see what I was missing if indeed there was anything to be missed.

I agree that some people are getting just a bit too worked up over this, but I hope that instead of seeking a life they seek to inform themselves and reduce their prejudices. I don't think it's a fair statement to say that people who care that Dumbledore is gay don't matter: They certainly do, and I hope that those with care for the series and for Dumbledore, who disagree with this choice, will examine what their uncomfortableness is here, and the reasons for it.

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Grand Rapids, Mich.: Hi Melissa - I'm wondering if you have any advice for parents who are trying to help their children cope with this newly discovered knowledge?

Melissa Anelli: Hi!

What a great questions and one I'm honored to be asked. Please talk to them. Please ask what their questions are about homosexuality, and how it's different from heterosexuality, and what it changes about a person. Please make them understand that a word like "faggot" is a terrible, hate-filled word as bad as using the "N-word" on a black person, and that being homosexual does not make you a child molestor. Be open to and patient with their questions. Ask them what they think and have a full discussion. I guess I'm just repeating: talk to them talk to them talk to them talk to them, but I think kids really do listen to their parents and it's the only way to really know what's on their minds. Educate them on the issue; telling them to just accept it without questioning is as bad as teaching them to not.

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Boston: Are we losing the alluring quality of mystery and imagination in our literature when authors reveal character and theme details after a novel is published? Why don't authors just write their own "Cliff Notes" addendums to their works?

Melissa Anelli: I think what we're dealing with in Harry Potter is a very specific plot-based work - this isn't something that was meant to leave us in the lurch. If that was the case J.K. Rowling would be a lot less forthcoming with this info. And all the information she's given out afterward hasn't really amounted to enough to take away our future imaginations about the books. There's still a whole 100 years of Dumbledore's life we don't know about - talk about mystery and imagination!

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Morehead City, N.C.: Melissa,

Having entered several web discussions (including on Leaky) about Dumbledore's sexual orientation, I have been utterly shocked at some of the vile and divisive reactions (on both sides of the political spectrum). What do you think (or hope) will be J. K. Rowling's reaction to the rather acidic discussions taking place?

Melissa Anelli: I've been shocked at them, too, and am sorry you've seen them; we've been taking pains to delete the truly insultory comments but I'm sure we haven't gotten them all.

I hope that J.K. Rowling doesn't see this discussion as a reason to back down at all or readdress the issue in a different way. She addressed the issue as it should be addressed: She was asked if Dumbledore found love, she answered the question with a plain statement that he was gay, and moved on. The discussion over this isn't her fault, it's the fault of centuries of misconceptions and biases toward homosexuality. To be honest, part of me is glad the discussion is going on. We've gotten more than one email from people who claim they were confused before reading the discussions and listening to our podcast, and reached a stance of tolerance afterward. That made us more proud than anything we've ever done.

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Rockville, Md.: Was there anything really concrete in any of the novels that pointed to Dumbledore being gay? It seems to me that labeling Dumbledore as gay is a far stretch -- simply basing it on his friendship with Grendlewald? I just don't buy it....do you?

Melissa Anelli: I do buy it, but I think what you're saying is that she didn't paint him as stereotypically gay, or address his sexuality at all in the books - not that she didn't point to it. Remember Harry is a student - there's no reason for him to be wondering about or finding out about his professor's sexuality. It wasn't endemic to the story. It's a nice thing to find out later, but didn't make a big difference in the books.

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Red Sox Nation: Hi Melissa,

Do you think Dumbledore is the only gay character in the series?

Melissa Anelli: Hi, congrats on the Red Sox! Make them explain to the Mets how to maintain a lead, please.

I think that this announcement opens the possibility of homosexuality in the series - which means there could be other characters who are gay, yes. And that's well up to everyone's imaginations, I think.

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Alexandria, Va.: Rowling waited to out Dumbledore until the sales of her seventh book had died down, but Warner Brothers still has two more movies to promote, isn't this timing by Rowling unfair to her business partners?

Melissa Anelli: I think the movies don't have to address the homosexuality at all, as the books didn't. In fact, the movies probably shouldn't address it.

As for there being a gay character in a movie - yeah, there are plenty of those. In a mega-blockbuster children's series of movies....well, let's just call it new ground being broken. :)

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Marquette, Mich.: Dear Ms. Anelli,

There seems to be a really problematic double standard.....

It's okay to have Ron and Lavender Brown writhing like eels in an armchair (Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince), and Hagrid entranced with Madame Maxime, and Snape in love with Lily, but suddenly when JKR reveals that Albus Dumbldore was in love with Gellert Grindelvald when he was 17 or 18...suddenly a very few people are complaining about bringing "sex" into the Harry Potter series.....

This seems to me to be a double standard...

Can you comment?

Melissa Anelli: Hi -

It is exactly a double standard. We're getting a lot of mail from people who are wondering why J.K. Rowling had to bring sexuality into the series. Someone said to me, "Why did she have to assign Dumbledore a sexuality?" I said, "Well, EVERYONE has a sexuality!"

Dumbledore's vaguely referred to love of Grindelwald is a lot less graphic than Ron and Lavender thrashing about like eels, as you said, or the kids who were in the rosebushes at the Yule Ball, or Harry and Ginny making out in book seven. There's a dangerous thing going on in that people are assuming that's only OK when it's heterosexuality. You're totally right.

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Eureka, Calif.: Dear Ms. Anelli,

One of the things that has upset me the most is a few isolated posters who assume that all gay men are child sexual abusers..that is, because Professor Dumbledore is gay, that the students are suddenly at risk from him.

The research shows that 90 percent of child sexual abusers are men and that they mostly abuse women. The most recent Associated Press survey of teachers who are sexual abusers find that most of them are men and most of their victims are women.

Yet, people seem to still have the problem of confusing being gay with being a child abuser.

Do you see this as a problem among a small minority of ill-informed fans?

Melissa Anelli: This is a big problem to me as well, the one that shocked and saddened me most as this news went live. Sexual abusers and rapists are, you're right, mostly people who do so in a heterosexual fashion - and mostly, it's not about sexuality. Abuse is about power. Somehow over the years homosexuality got equated with leering after little boys. I think that this has partly been informed by church scandals involving priests and altar boys. The notion is as wrong as it is insulting to the homosexual population.

Because Harry Potter fans span so many age groups and financial classes and ethnicities, we're going to get all kinds of reactions to just about everything. We have definitely been seeing this reaction, that this fact about Dumbledore means the student have been at risk. It's a horrible thing, and is the number one notion we're trying to disabuse people of on the site and podcast.

As a matter of fact, to go back to what someone asked about talking to children about this, we'll be presenting information on this subject on Leaky and our PotterCast pretty soon, from people more informed in the issues than ourselves.

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Dodge City, Kan.: Melissa: I'm a big fan of Pottercast and I listen to your discussions all the time.

I'm wondering if this announcement was planned between JKR and her publishers, or if they were taken by surprise like the rest of us. Also, with all your contacts with her, do you think this was a way for her to appease those people who complained there were no gay characters in her books, sort of after the fact? Finally, how will this announcement work into the book you're currently writing?

Thanks!

Melissa Anelli: Hey, thank you!

I can't imagine that JK Rowling told no one she would answer the question, as the questions, from our understanding, were screened through Scholastic. What the answer was, I can't say I know she shared.

I don't, however, think she is appeasing. I think she always in fact did think of him as gay, and just decided to reveal this information now.

This announcement and my book - it's funny you should say that. I had planned for this period to be the very end of the book, and to be the wrapping-up time. Now there's a huge monkey wrench thrown in and I'm not entirely sure how it will factor. I have an idea, but I'll have to wait and see if I incorporate it the way I'd like to, before talking about it. But thank you for your interest!

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Boise, Idaho: I would like to hear your opinion about the circulated ideas online that perhaps Dumbledore had a "crush" on Tom Riddle

Melissa Anelli: I don't think he did. I think he just recognized the power that child had the ability to unleash.

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Vienna/Austria/Europe: Rowling encouraged Harry Potter fans to "question authority."

My question: When will the huge crowd of uncritical fans start to questiuon Mrs. Rowling´s "authority"?

Melissa Anelli: There's no reason to question the authority on her books - she IS the authority on her books. If she was speaking as an authority on, say, the war in Iraq or started giving commentary on safe ice-skating techniques, we should probably get a little bit more inquisitive. But she created this world and is the authority on it.

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Carbondale, Ill.: Melissa,

Thanks for all you do on Leaky. I listened to the last PotterCast and I was wondering if you had gotten any response from Laura Mallory yet. If not, have you heard anything from the those who want to ban the books?

Melissa Anelli: Laura Mallory has given several comments in the press about this already, saying that it only further proves her point and that homosexuality has been "proven, medically" to be a dangerous lifestyle. That probably says it all.

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Providence, R.I.: Do you think Dumbledore ever fell in love again? Reading Elphias Doge's obituary sure seems extremely personal and affectionate now that we have this bit of information.

Melissa Anelli: Oh I hope Dumbledore fell in love again. You know, I've been saying over and over how this took me by surprise but I won't deny that I thought of Elphias Doge's obituary as a bit more affectionate than a purely platonic friend's missive would have been. I didn't make the connection in my head that perhaps Dumbledore was gay, then, but it did sort of spark a little "Hm?" of thought. I don't think you're off-base there.

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Washington, D.C.: Have you picked up any truly negative reaction to the news?

Melissa Anelli: Unfortunately, yes. My inbox is full of people who wish to let me know that I'm scum for supporting this "outing," that J.K. Rowling should go back to the devil who spawned her, etc. It's really disgusting. We're trying to simply ignore it. I succumbed to answering one email, in which someone thought it wise to tell me that there was an 80% chance of catching AIDS from homosexual sex. That's a ridiculous statistic. AIDS doesn't appear between two gay people like rabbits out of hats. One partner must be infected for the other to get it. And it's only more commonly transferred through male gay sex because the skin around the male glands is thinner, more easily made to bleed when frictionized - therefore a virus could more easily be transferred during sex with two men than with a man and woman, or two women. And it only spread so widely in the 80s and early 90s here because of the attitudes about unprotected sex and necessarily closeted attitude about homosexuality, and MANY other factors about which I am not the right person to describe. Anyway, yes, that's the kind of thing we've been getting in our inboxes.

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Chantilly, Va.: Do you think that J.K. Rowling's purpose in "outing" Dumbledore was to promote tolerance of homosexuality and teach her fans, or do you think she did this unintentionally?

Melissa Anelli: I think she knew that she would be promoting tolerance, yeah.

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Leesburg, Va.: Is Rowling's opinion of the characters the only one that matters or are they open to interpretation by the readers?

Melissa Anelli: I think that her opinion matters more than any other reader's does, but that doesn't mean we aren't free to imagine the characters in the ways we wish. As long as we don't insist she's wrong about her own characters, you know? It's fun to imagine them in different ways.

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Maryland: It's not I really care one way or the other if Dumbledore is gay, but if it isn't in the text then I don't see how anyone (even Rowling) can declare it to be the case.

If she wants to write an eighth that outs Dumbledore then great. Otherwise -- it seems flippant like she's just deciding this now.

Melissa Anelli: She's not just deciding it now: She's always known, and decided to tell people now.

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Detroit: Couldn't one surmise that people who are conflicted about whether a fictional character is homosexual need to have more active lives?

Melissa Anelli: I think that's an unfair premise. This character is important to many people, and that fact alone makes the question relevant.

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Lincoln, Neb.: What does the future of popular literature -- especially children's literature -- look like, given this announcement? Do you think we will see more gay characters?

Melissa Anelli: I'm not sure; I hope that those authors whose pens would quiver before admitting that a character is gay will go ahead and do it, now. I hope that gay characters achieve more popular significance, and stop getting relegated to niche literature. I hope that it does, in fact, induce more tolerance.

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Boise, Idaho: I want to hear your opinion on Dumbledore the manipulator, which I find to be the most interesting bit of canon, not the sexual preference thing. Knowing he truly did play Harry to his own means makes the books much more interesting to reread.

Melissa Anelli: Definitely. Dumbledore was extraordinarily Machiavellian in his actions. Dumbledore the chessmaster, the cold manipulator - but also the kindly and brilliant professor. He's a very layered character. And his most prevalent characteristic is not his homosexuality.

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Spinner's End: What do you think this need is by fandom to couple or "ship" every character?

Melissa Anelli: I think it's human nature. Just look what we do to celebrities. We wonder constantly whom they're dating, or just broke up with, or are marrying. There's an innate human need, I think, to pair people up, in the same fashion that people seek to pair themselves up. The shipping of characters happens in all fandoms; it's just more relevant in the Harry Potter fandom because this fandom is SO HUGE!

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Vlissingen, NL: Hi Melissa.

There are a lot of people that genuinely worship JKR and the ground she walks on. On the other hand there are those that let their disappointment with DH result in personal attacks on her.

I personally cannot relate with either, but I wonder how you deal with criticism on DH on Leaky and both sides reactions on that criticism?

Melissa Anelli: We try to only delete comments that are actually insulting - call JKR a name, call anyone a name, and your comment is gone. Honest and respectful debate and criticism, we try to leave. I won't pretend we have been perfect on this score, or have never let our emotions get in the way of fairness, but it is our aim. Criticism and discussion is good, disagreement is good. It's when it gets to a base and insulting level that we curb it on our site; we still seek for the site to be a family-friendly read. Obviously we don't think there's anything that's not family-friendly about homosexuality itself. A graphic depiction of a homosexual act would not be permitted, just as a graphic depiction of a heterosexual act would not be permitted.

We have plenty of dissenters to the books or part of the books voicing their opinions on our podcast and on our site - I think that's important critical discussion and we try not to interfere with it.

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Gay or Happy?: So Dumbledore is not Iranian after all! I knew it.

Melissa Anelli: Amazing, no? LOL.

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Boston: In an earlier response, you wrote: "She addressed the issue as it should be addressed: She was asked if Dumbledore found love, she answered the question with a plain statement that he was gay, and moved on." I think that whether someone's gay and whether someone's found love are two different questions, so it's effectively a non-answer. Her response bothers me because I think it leaves the door open for another question: does being gay affect one's ability to find love? (I wouldn't think so!)

Melissa Anelli: Well, she couldn't answer whether he had found love without saying that he had fallen in love with Grindelwald, so his sexuality was very relevant.

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Michigan: I'm wondering what your personal thoughts are about Grindelwald and Dumbledore's "relationship". Do you think it mirrored Snapes love for Lily Evans (that of unrequired love), or do you think it was a mutual thing? Is this relationship what caused Grindelwald to accept his stony cell in prison, or was his remorse for something much broader?

Melissa Anelli: I think this relationship is why Dumbledore didn't kill him in their duel. I don't know that Grindelwald returned the feelings or if he was simply appeasing Dumbledore. My guess is that they did get on well, for awhile, before Grindelwald chose world domination and fled.

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Grand Rapids, Mich.: JK Rowling seems to have her fingers on the pulse of what's going on in the fandom. Do you think she will publicly speak about the reaction to this particular comment before something ridiculous like www.DumbledoreIsNotGay.com arises?

Melissa Anelli: DumbledoreIsNotGay.com already exists; it was bought minutes after the announcement, but it is a parody site, not the act of someone who really doesn't want to accept it.

I hope that J.K. Rowling leaves her comments like they are: simple and unapologetic. She has no reason to address it further though it's certainly her wish to do so if she wants. I believe she just said something about it in Toronto, but I have not yet been able to watch the video.

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Seattle: A couple side questions/comments: did I hear correctly that JKR said she'd revisit the Potter-verse sometime in the future?

Secondly, don't you think that Slytherin girls were kinda let down by JKR? I mean, I would think that more than a few of them would be smokin' hot, bad-girl queen bee types -- You'd marry a Gryffindor, but you'd want to "date" a Slytherin, right? (same for the boys, btw)

Melissa Anelli: She will eventually write a book that's a bit like an encyclopedia of her world, with more histories on the characters (very Tolkien-esque, kinda).

I don't know, I'm sure there's a Slytherin girl in there somewhere who was nice as well as ambitious. However, we saw things through Harry's lens and so didn't have much chance to meet her.

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Chantilly, Va.: Coming from a very religious family, I find that my parents are angered at J.K. Rowling's outing of Dumbledore. Have you gotten e-mails from angry parents? What advice would you give to a child who is just fine with Dumbledore being gay, but has parents that believe otherwise?

Melissa Anelli: Hey -

Yes, we definitely have. I would advise you to do what I said to parents, in reverse: talk to your parents. Ask them what their real issue is with it. Find documentation online (www.glaad.org is sure to have a ton of it) that talks about misconceptions and homosexuality and show them how some of their ideas might be a little skewed. Show them examples of popular and good people who also happen to be gay. Keep open and calm; getting angry and railling probably won't help anything. Understand your parents grew up in an era with different societal norms than yours, and have different prejudices because of it, and try to be tolerant of their beliefs, too.

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Washington, D.C.: I'm sort of embarrassed to admit this, but I used to read fanfiction for a TV show, and I remember it being very clear that only what was in the actual show was canon, regardless of what the writers said in public forums or even in scenes that were cut from the final show. What is it about JK Rowling and Harry Potter that makes something like this "count" in any meaningful way?

Melissa Anelli: Don't be embarrassed of fanfiction! It can be a lot of fun. Anyway:

Maybe, according to you, it doesn't count. I don't think that JKR is saying that no one can write a fanfiction with Dumbledore as a straight man now. It's up to you to envision him according to the books or the books + her talks. If you want to toe the strict line, he's gay. If you'd rather write or read fanfiction in which he's different, sure, as long as it's understood that that vision differs from Rowling's. I think that's more the idea - to give more information on her vision so that those who want to be really informed about it and work from there, can do so.

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Red Sox Nation: This revelation seems to only highlight yet another reason that Dumbledore valued love so much. He recognized its power both in a positive and a negative way.

The fandom in general is very friendly and caring. These recent outbursts on the forums are so opposite of the gist of the books.

Do you think some fans just missed the point?

- Patty (TLF) (p.s. sorry 'bout your beloved Mets)

Melissa Anelli: Patty: Yes, I think it's very interesting to watch now how some of the fandom that touted themselves on the tolerant themes of the books have now turned and are being intolerant about this. HOWEVER, I think that the overwhelming majority of Potter fans really are that tolerant and this is just the action of the vocal few.

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Santa Rosa, Calif.: Hi Melissa,

Dumbledore's sexuality surprised me, but it was because I didn't consider him as a sexual character. Frankly, I don't think its any of my business.

What isn't surprising is that the issue of his sexuality is a headline grabber, even for papers known for more political coverage (et tu, WP?). Dumbledore's politics fascinate me much more than his private affairs:

Why was Fawkes the phoenix attracted to Dumbledore? Fawkes is probably not gay, but seems named after Guy Fawkes, the anarchist who tried to reform Parliament with gunpowder in 1605.

Anyhow I'd love to hear Rowling comment more on the political nature of the books. She obviously makes some digs at the Ministry of Magic, whom Dumbledore isn't a very strong supporter.

Melissa Anelli: I'd love to hear her comment more on the political nature of the books as well. She seemed to imply a little dig at the current US and UK administrations on Friday night, too, and I loved hearing her say that we should challenge authority. That was fantastic. She's right - the press (sorry, WPost, I'm a reporter too) isn't always accurate. Unfortunately. There are hundreds of well-intentioned and passionate reporters trying their hardest to get the right story out, but there are hundreds of reasons why they wouldn't be able to - so, yes, always question.

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re: Towson: I have to agree with Towson - and I am an avid HP fan - but Dumbledore is FICTIONAL! And as far as I can tell, his sexual orientation does not matter to the series.

Melissa Anelli: Right on!

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D.C.: While most of the fandom seems to be reacting with interest to the news, I've read many comments in the last few days that expressed disappointment or denial. This surprised me, because no one would question other facts that have come out since the books ended, such as Harry's career or Neville marrying Hannah. Is this just homophobia, or do some people just not want to accept a different view of a character?

Melissa Anelli: I think it's a little of both. However there seems to be a soft core of people whose minds are not yet made up, and who are achieving tolerance through this admission. It's great.

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Arlington, Va.: Frankly, I'm more interested in how this played into Dumbledore's acceptance of Grindelwald's rhetoric.

I find it a lot easier to believe that this really smart guy would ignore the implications of their plan if he was...thinking with something other than his brain.

Melissa Anelli: Yes. As JKR said, falling in love can blind us. Infatuation has blinded me in the past, too.

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CA: Melissa Anelli Rocks! Leaky! PotterCast!

Melissa Anelli: Thank you so much!

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Washington, D.C.: Am I the only one who is bothered by revelations about a fictional character that come after the fact, or after the book is written? (I'm not bothered by the revelation of being gay, just that it wasn't in the actual work.) I know works are always up for interpretation, but this seems like cheating. Are their other instances of authors hinting at a character's private life that they didn't actually write about?

Melissa Anelli: I can't say for sure, but I am sure that other authors have had thoughts about their characters that didn't make it into the books. I think that few are afforded so fantastic a pulpit from which to dispense futher revelations as is JK Rowling - and more should be.

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Melissa Anelli: Thank you, everyone! This has been fun! See you next time!

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