Dear Dumbledore,

So I heard.

While I'm really happy there's a gay character in the Harry Potter books, it must have been hard to be the only one in a seven part series. No wonder you were so hidden all the time, so restrained and soft-spoken.

And I heard the truth about Grindelwald, too; I can't imagine what it must have been like to have fought the one you love, and then be subject to years of stories about the time you defeated one of the most evil tyrants in history. It's hard for people to understand things unless they're completely black and white.

But perhaps the most horrible thing of all, the part I feel the worst about for you, is that the person who knows you the most deeply, a person who you trust to represent you to the world community, your creator...OUTED YOU!

In this day and age, most of us know about the repercussions of outing someone's homosexuality to the rest of the world. And what was most interesting was that the way in which your friend, J.K. Rowling, went about doing it -- at a book reading she answered a question about your romantic history, noting nonchalantly that you were in love with a man, that you were gay, that she knew it all along, that she knew as she was helping your character grow with each page. This also means, as I'm sure you're well aware, that she planned to hide your sexuality in a way not unlike the hidden, lost-to-the-world homosexuals from some of the more repressive works of Victorian literature.

So the way this all rolled out was really interesting. A lot of people like me were upset with Rowling for not including a queer character in the series, but with this announcement it seemed like she answered our pleas. The news set in and fans everywhere were shocked; scores of people, I'm sure, flipped back through each chapter of your history, from the moments when you shared wise advice with the children of Hogwarts, to the time you brought Harry to his foster family, to the momentous time you saved Harry from Voldemort using the most astonishing magic, to flashbacks in the later books giving snapshots of your past. With but a few sentences, Rowling refashioned your entire history for the world to see. Your character was, quite honestly, hijacked.

But I guess that's how outing works, how coming out often works. You "come out" of supposed hiding, and the world sees you in a different light; sexuality is a huge part of one's identity -- whether it's discussed or not (heterosexual or homosexual), it shapes many of our thoughts and behaviors in life. The question then becomes, it seems, is whether Rowling did you real justice or not.

I would argue that Rowling is operating within the framework of the literary market, making choices about her characters that seek to "gently push" rather than "revolutionize"; she did not include gay characters in the story because, well, the sociopolitical climate in which Harry Potter most profoundly exists is one that does not welcome gay characters in children's literature -- the books wouldn't be bought. ("I would have told you earlier if I knew it would make you so happy." *) And while in many parts of our country the notion of a Victorian gay sexuality, a gayness that can only exist behind closed doors and in deep secrecy, is disappearing...children are still seen as at risk; real gay characters, real gay mentors, gay teachers, are a threat to their childhood and their growth.

And so, dear Dumbledore, I'm sorry that you had to live your life like the many gay characters we have seen from movies past, their youthful romances stifled by fear of heteronormativity, their identities quelled into a restrained silence. When you watched over the children of Hogwarts, you did it so they could grow to be themselves, free of unjust limitations and empowered by love.

But Dumbledore, for all the good you have done in your life and the happiness I am sure it brought you, I am still left with one telling image -- an image of you standing in front of the Mirror of Erised with Harry, describing the view in front of you, a view that reflects your life's deepest wishes: "I? I see myself holding a pair of thick, woolen socks. One can never have enough socks." For those in hiding, mirrors can be the most debilitating; you looked in the mirror, and you were forced to see...nothing.

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