For many students at NDSU, they can point to Harry Potter as being the biggest influence in their early years — inspiring them to embrace themselves as who they are.
J.K. Rowling, the creator of the wizarding world for the Harry Potter generation, has often been proclaimed as an ally to the LGBTQ community. Especially after Rowling’s announcement that Dumbledore was gay after the release of the final book of the series, “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows,” and the subsequent response to a fan in which she tweeted: “Gay people are people.”
However, among the recent revelation from director David Yates that Dumbledore will not be portrayed as gay in the upcoming installment of “Fantastic Beasts,” many fans have been left wondering if Rowling is queerbaiting, which is hinting toward a character being gay but then avoiding portraying that character in that light, her LGBTQ fans.
With a seven-book series and nine movies filled to the brim with straight characters on page or onscreen, it’s not difficult to see why fans are disappointed with Rowling. She had assured her fans there would be gay representation for Dumbledore within the “Fantastic Beasts” series.
Rowling’s response on Twitter has been to start muting tweets from fans looking for answers about the situation.
This has sparked mixed responses from fans.
When asked about her thoughts on the situation, NDSU student Lindsey Pouliot, discussed how she had not been aware of the lack of diversity in the Harry Potter series as a child until she started attending college. She noted in particular that all of the characters were both “white and straight” both on the page and onscreen.
Pouliot added that the only time she felt that Rowling directly addressed the lack of diversity in the books was through claims online that there were diverse characters that were not explicitly shown in the story.
It would seem, according to some students, that diverse characters and their identities — including Dumbledore’s sexuality — have only ever been revealed to us through J.K. Rowling’s tweets and subsequent interviews.
It has led many to wonder if these claims of diversity on Rowling’s part are simply a way to counter fans who have pointed out the lack of diverse characters in her books.
However, another NDSU student, Alex Hopping, stated in her response to the current controversy, “Saying (there is) representation and then not backing it up is not real representation.”
Hopping has a similar opinion of others who believe that a character’s sexuality should not have to be plot relevant in order to have representation on the page and onscreen. This is something that the LGBT community, among other marginalized groups, has been clamoring for in the media.
Unfortunately, most students believe that “Fantastic Beasts” is doomed to go the route of films such as “Beauty and the Beast” with “blink-and-you’ll-miss-it” representation that is over-hyped and disappointing in the end.
Although most student responses point toward queerbaiting on Rowling’s part, others have noted that only time can tell with the newest movie addition to the Harry Potter franchise.
When everything is said and done, “Fantastic Beasts” is set to be a five-movie series and fans will have plenty of time to keep Rowling accountable for her promises.