Where I live in the Middle East, Friday brunch is an institution, especially among the ex-pat community. Most of the luxury hotels offer a gluttonous buffet with unlimited sparkling wine. The price tag is high, but then you get to over-eat and over-drink yourself silly, so no one complains.
Over the weekend, I ended up at the 40th birthday brunch of a man I’d never met before. This man, of course, was gay. In fact, the attendees of this brunch were: 7 gay men, 3 straight couples (one with twin kids), 1 lesbian, and me. It’s like without even trying, my social life in London has magically replicated itself here in the Middle East!
Someone asked if I was the lesbian’s girlfriend. I repeat, my social life in London seems to have magically replicated itself…
Homosexuality Litmus Test No. 526: The Harry Potter franchise
Q: Dear Fag Hag,
My friend is a grown man who has exhibited no previous interest in fantasy/sci-fi stuff. He is not a father, a father-to-be, a schoolteacher, and does not interact with kids on regular basis. Yet he is somewhat obsessed with the Harry Potter series, has read all the books, and insists on seeing the films on opening weekend. Is he gay?
This is not to say that all gay men like Harry Potter. I know some who loathe the pop cultural phenomenon as much as your average pagan-fearing, evangelical Christian. But chances are, if a grown man is rushing out of his own accord to see the final Harry Potter installment, he’s a fag. I have yet to meet a grown straight man, disassociated from kids, who will publicly profess his love of the Harry Potter franchise. That’s just too gay.
My gay Australian flatmate in London, “Will,” would often engage in unannounced Harry Potter marathons. I would come home to find him watching another adolescent tiff between Hermione Granger and Ron Weasley while some shriveled, elf-like creature whined by their feet.
“Which one is this?” I would ask. “Number Four?”
“Number Two,” ‘Will’ would answer. “Obviously.”
I myself am not a massive Harry Potter fan, although I appreciate the solid entertainment value of the films. (I haven’t read the books.) Over the weekend, I of course, did see the latest and final installment of the films. Accompanied by two other girls and a gay man.
But this abundant gay love for the Harry Potter franchise got me thinking. With such a gay fanbase, isn’t ironic that the series offers such little representation of LGBT characters? In fact, where are the gays in Hogwarts?
The final scene of the film is a particularly hetero-normative portrait of “happily ever after.” Nineteen years later, we see the main characters have all married their wizard school sweethearts and are sending their own kids off to start their Hogwarts education. Needless to say, they’re all straight. And they all look identical to their teenage selves… except now they’re wearing more adult clothes and Ron has learned to shave. But is this progress? Wouldn’t it have been nice to see at least one lesbian couple sending off their kid to his/her first day at Hogwarts?
J.K. Rowling and Co. obviously make a significant effort to show Hogwarts as a racially diverse place. Yeah, ok, the lead characters are still white. But hey, I see some color there in the background – we have black kids, Indian kids, Eastern Europeans, and dude, Harry Potter even had a crush on a Chinese girl. (Asian fetish, Harry… tsk tsk.) But aside from ethnic diversity, where’s that other kind of diversity in the wizard world?
Fine, you can argue that the Hogwarts kids are still only teenagers, so no one’s out of the closet yet. In which case…. Hogwarts should start a glee club, and that would be sure to attract at least one stereotypically flaming student, along with a disturbingly perfect cross-section of the school’s racial diversity. Including one kid in a wheelchair. If Severus Snape led the glee club, they’d be sure to win sectionals.
Ah. Now. If you’re a diehard Harry Potter fan or particularly up on your LGBT-portrayals-in-pop-culture, you may be squirming in your seat now, tempted to shout out: “BUT DUMBLEDORE IS GAY!!!!” It’s true. Google it. Ms. Rowling herself confirmed it at a public reading in Carnegie Hall, New York, in October 2007. Albus Dumbledore, Headmaster of Hogwarts, founder of the Order of the Phoenix, greatest wizard of the Order of Merlin, etc etc is a fag.
That explains the long, lingering looks at Hagrid. The avuncular grooming of Harry…
Now, that’s all very well and good, but Dumbledore’s sexual orientation was never hinted at in the books or the films, and the fact remains: DUMBLEDORE DIED in a rather spectacular fashion. The sole gay character in the whole franchise GOT KILLED OFF. So a nice concession to the LGBT community, to make the most powerful wizard a homosexual, but it’s not a very encouraging message to kids, eh?
And as J.K. Rowling has explained, Dumbledore’s back story is a very sad one of unrequited gay love. He might have been gay, but as Headmaster of the greatest wizard school in the UK, was he ever allowed to act on it? Heck, he might as well have become a bishop for the Church of England.
Anyway, I have to say none of this particularly bothered me while I was watching the film. Instead, I spent most the film preoccupied by Voldemort’s missing nose. I kept on leaning over to my friend and asking: “What happened to his nose?” And then “But didn’t he ever have one to start with?” And then “You know, there might be some new procedures which can bring his nose back.”
As my friend later informed me, Voldemort lost his nose during a series of experiments to increase his wizardly powers. Maybe the saga of Voldemort’s missing nose could be seen as a Faustian cautionary tale to yummy mummys looking to invest in the latest plastic surgery. Or like Michael Jackson, that other androgynous master of magic who kept on reinventing himself. And eventually died in spectacular fashion.
Whatever. It’s a good thing Voldemort never came out here to the Middle East. Because without a nose, he’d have a lot of trouble wearing sunglasses. And you know what? It’s frickin’ bright out here in the desert.