Note: Contains major spoilers for Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald
One of the greatest controversies surrounding Harry Potter has been Albus Dumbledore's sexuality. Revealed to be gay by JK Rowling only after her seventh and final book was published, fans were left concerned when director David Yates suggested that Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald would not "explicitly" acknowledge the Hogwarts headmaster's relationship with the titular dark wizard.
As hinted in the trailer, The Crimes of Grindelwald does end up addressing Dumbledore's sexuality… after a fashion. And it may be the best that we're going to get.
The film reveals that Dumbledore is unable to directly confront his old friend (and possible lover) Gellert Grindelwald directly. When Torquil Travers (Derek Riddell), the Head of the Department of Magical Law Enforcement, says that Dumbledore and Grindelwald "were as close as brothers", to which Dumbledore responds, "No – we were closer than brothers."
Dumbledore later looks in the Mirror of Erised and sees himself and Grindelwald as younger men, holding hands and enacting the Unbreakable Vow that prevents them from ever fighting each other (and the artifact that was created by the mingling of their blood).
While these things are clearly coded as queer to a queer audience, they could just as easily be read as a close platonic relationship. It feels very much like a case of hedging their bets so as not to offend any part of its global audience.
This reluctance to overtly acknowledge Dumbledore's queerness doesn't bode well for exploring it in the following three films in the series. If there was the willingness to do so, why didn't Dumbledore just say, "He was my boyfriend, duh," rather than hide behind ambiguous language?
Why delay addressing Dumbledore's sexuality outright, knowing that many fans were desperate to finally see it become an undeniable part of the canon?
While the end of Crimes of Grindelwald hints that Dumbledore will be able to break the vow and confront his former friend (or "friend"?) in a future film, we're afraid that coded language and meaningful glances might be about as queer as the Harry Potter series is ever going to get – though we're still holding out hope that Rowling will see fit to surprise us.
Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald is out now.
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