Friday, 24 July 2015

Sexuality in Harry Potter | Harry Potter Month

Throughout July, Micheline @ Lunar Rainbow Reviews and Faith @ GeekyZooGirl are hosting Harry Potter Month. You can find out everything you need to know about it here! 

As much as we love the Harry Potter series, I think we can all agree that it isn't perfect. I like names with meanings as much as the next person, but considering Remus Lupin's name basically translates to Wolf McWolf it's no wonder Fenrir Greyback bit him.

In recent years I've seen more and more people eager to know more about the LGBT* community at Hogwarts, which I think is wonderful. We've become much more aware of diversity in the literary world, and though we still have a long way to go we've certainly made some improvements.

I totally agree that when it comes to diversity, authors need to start saying that their characters aren't white or straight instead of just hinting at it. However, I can understand why sexuality isn't really discussed in the Harry Potter books: because it's not relevant to Harry's story.

After J.K. Rowling announced that Dumbledore was gay, something I think most of us picked up on upon reading the seventh book, there were some people who were disgusted because they're gross and homophobic, and there were some people who were angry because they felt as though she was simply jumping on the LGBT* bandwagon.

Though I could understand the anger amongst some members of the LGBT* community I wasn't sure it was entirely justified. In what way was Dumbledore's sexuality important to Harry's story? More to the point, what did J.K. Rowling have to do to 'prove' that Dumbledore was gay and that she wasn't just lying for the sake of a publicity stunt? Did people want her to be horribly stereotypical and portray Dumbledore wearing sparkly robes and gushing over musical theatre?

Dumbledore's sexuality wasn't at all important to Harry's story. In fact no one else's sexuality was important to the story which was why, in my opinion, J.K. Rowling never openly discussed anyone's sexuality in the books. That doesn't mean the books are perfect, but I don't think their lack of openly discussed sexuality makes them terrible books.

But just because a character's sexuality wasn't discussed doesn't mean they weren't there! I know that's completely contradictory to my earlier point, but I'd like to refer to the wise words of Cosima Niehaus:

When it comes to sexual diversity I think we need to see more characters outside of the straight and gay spectrum. I've never read a book in which a character has identified as bisexual, not for lack of trying, and I've certainly never read a book in which a character has identified as asexual, demisexual or pansexual. If you have any recommendations, I'd love to hear them!

So I've made a little list of some of the Harry Potter characters who I believe aren't heterosexual.

(I also really hope I don't end up offending anyone with this post. If you're part of the LGBT* community I'm not trying to portray non-heterosexuality as 'cool' or 'quirky', I genuinely read the characters below as queer.)

Albus Dumbledore

Okay, so this one we already know. Dumbledore is gay which, like I said before, is something I think most of us picked up on while reading Deathly Hallows. I've started to like Dumbledore less and less as I've gotten older because I'm really not sure he was the best teacher (or the best human being), but his and Grindelwald's story was heartbreaking.

Sirius Black

Personally I think Sirius is pansexual. Pansexuality is described as sexual attraction, emotional attraction and/or romantic love towards people of any sexuality or gender identity. Sirius has always struck me as an 'if I like it, I like it' kinda guy. He does his own thing, and always has done, that's why he ends up in Gryffindor and eventually ends up living with James after his own family disown him. Out of all the Marauders, I certainly think Sirius was the one who was most experimental with his sexuality.

Remus Lupin

I've always thought of Remus as bisexual. In the books we know he marries Tonks, but because J.K. Rowling herself has openly stated that werewolves are treated in much the same way that AIDS sufferers have been treated I refuse to believe that he's straight. The AIDS virus devastated the LGBT* community, particularly during the '80s and '90s, and Remus was a young man in the '80s. On a much less serious note I like me some Remus/Sirius just as much as I like me some Remus/Tonks...

Charlie Weasley

I have a huge crush on Charlie Weasley, and I'm also pretty sure that he's asexual. I'm not trying to say that people who never get married or have kids must be asexual, but J.K. Rowling once said something along the lines of 'he's more interested in dragons than women', and I've read him as asexual ever since. Perhaps he's also aromantic, though a person can be asexual without being aromantic and vice versa!

Luna Lovegood

This one I have no 'evidence' for, it's simply what I think: I read Luna as demisexual. People who are demisexual only feel sexually attracted towards people they already have an emotional and/or romantic bond with; it's often described as the 'grey area' between asexuality and bisexuality. There's something about Luna - she's serene to the core - that's always made me think of her as demisexual. I don't think of her as sexually experimental in the same way that Sirius is, but I can see her falling in love with a woman as easily as she'd fall in love with a man.

Do you read any of the Harry Potter characters as queer?


  1. What a great discussion! I never really thought about it, but i think your character breakdowns make a lot of sense. Especially Sirius and Luna!

  2. Mmmm this is a very interesting post^^ I don't think people should have been at all surprised that Dumbledore was gay and to me, his story with Grindelwald makes him all the more fascinating. Sirius is an interesting one because he's one of the few character who isn't seen being paired up with ANYONE in his younger days or in Harry's time. His sexuality is wide open and I like your interpretation for it. Also, I do ship me some Sirius/Lupin too ♥ Chaley could definitely fit the asexual bill and I could see Luna loving ANYONE she forms an emotional connection with!

    1. That's very true, we never seem to see Sirius romantically interested in anyone - maybe that was J.K.'s way of leaving his sexuality wide open for the fanfiction writers. ;)

  3. Great post! I have to admit I haven't done much thinking about the sexuality of these characters, and that is something I kind of love about this series. This series focuses on loyalty and friendship so much more than romantic love, and in my opinion, that makes the relationships in the series much more powerful. The friendship between Ron, Hermonie, and Harry is so beautiful, and while there is romantic love between Ron and Heromine, friendship came first.
    I can't remember the details of Dumbledore and Grindelwald's relationship in the seventh book. so it is definitely time for a reread!

    1. Very good point, Mallory, and I agree! I love that this series is so much more focused on platonic and familial love - it makes a change from all the romance-centric stuff that's around.

  4. This is such an interesting post. I will say, when I first read Deathly Hallows I was oblivious to the hints about Dumbledore's sexuality. Like completely. But the second time through, I figured it out. It was like reading a whole different version of the book. I still laugh at myself for being so oblivious sometimes. I never really thought about the sexuality of the characters, because like you said it wasn't really important to the story. However, I do see Luna loving whoever she makes a strong emotional connection to, she's a beautiful soul.

    1. I love Luna, she's such a sweetie. :) Yep, their sexuality wasn't important. Is it important to them as characters? Yes. Is it important in a story about trying to defeat the magical equivalent of Hitler? Not so much.

  5. Fantastic post! It's so interesting, and I liked reading about your interpretations (I think Sirius could definitely be pansexual). I think you make a great point too that JKR wasn't neglecting diversity in sexuality or creating an overwhelmingly hetero-normative wizarding society just because she didn't blantantly expand upon a lot of different character's sexualities; it wasn't relevant to Harry's story (and most of the romance that was included, which wasn't much, really was focused on plot and/or Harry's personal feelings).

    -Cristina @ Girl in the Pages

    1. Thanks Cristina! Yep, I agree; even the romance that was included was such a small part of the story. Ultimately, like Mallory said, these books are for more focused on platonic love, which is wonderful. Some of the best love stories in the world are friendships. :)

  6. This is a great topic! I never thought about the issue of sexuality much when I was a kid reading these books but as I re-read them now, things start to pop up. I wrote a post about how the characters' sex life was completely excluded from the story, which is pretty unbelievable if you think about the fact that they're mostly teenagers with raging hormones - they should at least THINK about sex even if they're not having any.
    But yes, of course not all characters would be straight if the topic of sexuality WAS tackled and I think you're spot-on with your observations. Luna is a particularly interesting case for me, I've always respected her so much.

    1. That's a really good point! Sex isn't mentioned in the series at all, is it? I mean I guess I would argue that they've got other things on their mind, like trying not to get killed, but for most of the series they're teenagers at school - at boarding school, no less - so the air should be full of raging hormones.