In retrospect—a year and four months since the release of that first official trailer for
As it turns out, it wasn’t just the times in which I’d invested an undue confidence, but the ever-expanding Potterworld franchise, an ostensible beacon for change among a generation of blockbuster titles adherent to the status quo. In the 10 years since J.K. Rowling had first identified Dumbledore as gay, tossing an extra-textual buoy for a reading precious to many
Complementing my pipe dreams with a heaping spoonful of upbeat cynicism, that Rowling had yet to make good on her battle cries with some bona fide representation in print only bolstered my faith that she (as the film’s screenwriter) and Warner Bros. would no doubt carry out a
All this in tow, the me of 2016 wouldn’t hear of a
In lieu of an honest illustration of young Dumbledore’s (played by Jude Law) romantic love for the film’s eponymous Gellert Grindelwald (Johnny Depp), Yates offers what sounds more like an amalgam of platonic friendship and academic rivalry. “He had a very intense relationship with Grindelwald when they were young men,” Yates told
It’s that “each other” that may ring the loudest to those taking issue with Yates’ evasion of an important opportunity, likewise his admission that “all the fans are aware of [Dumbledore’s homosexuality],” and what’s more Rowling’s countless tweets affirming appreciation for the legions of queer readers who have found refuge in her work. Every such remark resounds as an echo of one of the most sinister phrases to fall on queer ears: “behind closed doors,” which is wielded all at once as a prideful display of self-satisfied tolerance and a hard-nosed warning to keep your otherness in the dark where it belongs.
As is intrinsic to the recipe of the “behind closed doors” mentality, I’d wager that the likes of Rowling and Yates take pride in their off-screen thumbs-way-up attitude to LGBTQ tolerance. Furthermore, I’m in no position to conclude whether this is their ground-up approach to queer representation or a consolation prize after having been talked out of overt embrace thereof by studio suits savvy to the American public’s existential growth spurt. Neither backstory assuages the sting of Yates’ “Not explicitly,” or forgives the satisfaction with which he is permitted to deliver it.
None of these grievances are unique to the scenario surrounding