One People

Achdus is Hebrish for “unity”.

Being Dumbledore and Being Jewish

Sure, I know.  You don’t read Harry Potter because you’re busy learning Torah.  Or is that not the case?  You find the time, and the place (uh hem) to do both.

Then you might know by now, that Jo K. Rowling received a standing ovation in Carnegie Hall when she revealed that Albus Dumbledore was gay.

Her response?  “If I had known this would have made you this happy, I would have announced it years ago.”

If you don’t know the actual plot, I won’t spoil it for you.  But in the final book Harry learns that his hero and headmaster, Albus Dumbledore, had a best friend.  But that friend, Gellert Grindelwald, went in a different direction, magically speaking. He went to the dark side.  So the boys parted ways.

A courageous move on Ms. Rowling’s part, to tell her fans AFTER the books have been safely digested, that her second protagonist was gay.  But it made me wonder why she hadn’t come out about it in the text.  Why didn’t she have Dumbledore say, Harry, you know I’m gay, of course, don’t you? I was in love with Gellert.

It was her chance to normalize gayness, to say, Look here, your hero, the most intrepid of wizards!  He’s gay.  Such an opportunity it was to dent our internationally heterosexist biases.  Oh, you don’t like where I’m going, do you.

So as a Jew, what are you supposed to do with this subject matter?  My feeling as a professional and as a Jew, and I’m not being homophobic or heterosexist, either, is that teachers have no place discussing their own personal love lives or sexual orientations with their students in any case.

And then there’s the idea that being gay as a young person (Albus was young and in love, apparently) shouldn’t by definition imply having sex.  Why do teenagers feel they should have sex at all, gay or straight?  They’re too young.  Finish.  They open themselves up to a flood of body memories and pain.

Finally, same sex love between peers is very powerful and very good.  When I went to graduate school and read Freud, Lidz, Erikson, and other developmental theorists, it was considered GOOD to love your friends, to choose them over your parents. It constituted a developmental leap.

These days everything has to be sexual or it’s not salable.

Even Harry Potter– had— to have a sexual denouement, even if it’s not in writing.

Call me old fashioned, but it’s not homophobic to keep lust out of children’s literature.

Sensibly yours,


October 22, 2007 - Posted by | Uncategorized

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