Monday, October 22, 2007

The truth is coming out

Many children are frightened to 'come out' because they're aware of a pervasive prejudice against lgbt people. And it was probably that same prejudice which prevented JK Rowling making her characters anything other than heterosexual, at least as far as Harry Potter readers were previously aware. But it now seems Albus Dumbledore, in The Deathly Hallows, was alluding to his romantic feelings towards another wizard when he said "You cannot imagine how his ideas caught me, Harry, inflamed me."

JK Rowling told an audience in New York that Dumbledore is gay.

In response to applause from her audience in Carnegie Hall, JK said "I would have told you earlier if I knew it would make you so happy." I wonder whether the entire audience was happy, and I wonder if JK would have really risked writing anything which could have cost a lot of book sales, especially in America.

There have been many negative comments on the internet, asking questions like "do we need to know his sexuality?" or saying "too much information." When the Daily Mail reported JK Rowling's remarks, she received little support from readers. "Time to put the books in the bin," said one.

Of course we don't really need to know a wizard's sexuality, but that's never the reaction to all the straight relationships in children's books and, in fact, on children's television too. And when you ask: why not cover other relationships, the answer is always something like "we don't do sexuality for kids." But you only need to watch, say, the ending of the latest episode of CBBC's The Sarah Jane Adventures (The Warriors of Kudlak - repeated on BBC1 next Monday) to see that this answer is a lie.

Heteronormative attitudes hide the truth about human diversity from young people. This can cause worry and distress about their own feelings. But ultimately these attitudes are destined to founder.

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