The Third ‘Fantastic Beasts’ Movie Finally Addresses Dumbledore’s Sexuality — nearly 15 years after J.K. Rowling first revealed he’s gay

The Third ‘Fantastic Beasts’ Movie Finally Addresses Dumbledore’s Sexuality — nearly 15 years after J.K. Rowling first revealed he’s gay

In 2007, Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling made a remark that would echo in the franchise’s fandom for years to come. Speaking at Carnegie Hall that year, she said that she had “always thought of Dumbledore as gay” — and that the relationship between him and his teenage friend Gellert Grindelwald had been romantic.

Since then, Dumbledore’s sexuality has only explicitly existed outside of any of the franchise’s main properties, and Rowling’s words had never been confirmed on screen. She hinted in 2016 that the character’s queerness would play a role in the Fantastic Beasts films, telling reporters to “watch this space.”

Almost fifteen years after Rowling first confirmed Dumbledore’s sexuality, it’s finally made it to the big screen.

The Secrets of Dumbledore doesn’t beat around the bush when it comes to establishing the relationship that the two men had with each other.

In the very first sequence of the film, Dumbledore (Jude Law) and Grindelwald (Mads Mikkelsen, taking over the role from Johnny Depp) speak over tea. While their exchange starts cordial, it later turns terse. Eventually, Dumbledore tells Grindelwald that he went along with his plans “because I was in love with you.”

It’s the first explicit confirmation in any Harry Potter film – or canon material, for that matter – of Dumbledore’s love for Grindelwald, and by extension his sexuality.

The pair’s romantic past crops up throughout the course of The Secrets of Dumbledore, and at one point Dumbledore describes his time together with Grindelwald as “the summer Gellert and I fell in love.” After they clash at the end of the film, Grindelwald asks, “Who will love you now, Dumbledore?”

Throughout the film, there’s an obvious layer of tension between the two that wasn’t quite as evident in other films. As Insider’s Kirsten Acuna wrote in her review of The Secrets of Dumbledore, Mikkelsen’s performance truly sells their romantic past, as well as Grindelwald as a charismatic leader.

While their romantic relationship doesn’t progress farther than those pained one-liners in the movie — they don’t kiss, but they’re far from together in this film — the extra layer of shared history, and nuance, makes the relationship between the two men that much more compelling.

Dumbledore’s sexuality has long been controversial, mostly because it was never depicted on screen or in the books. Rowling has historically had a habit of dropping new lore about the Harry Potter universe and its characters outside of books and films. Dumbledore’s sexuality is one such detail, as is the fact that, as the author tweeted in 2014, Ravenclaw Anthony Goldstein is Jewish.

Rowling has dropped pieces of information about Grindelwald and Dumbledore’s relationship since first revealing it in 2007, such as in 2019 when she said that the two had an “incredibly intense” relationship that also included a sexual aspect.

As the years have gone on, people have increasingly criticized her for dropping trivia about the queer relationship, as opposed to information about it appearing in any of the series’ books or movies. Queer fans of Harry Potter expressed disappointment that Dumbledore’s sexuality wouldn’t be explicitly depicted in the second Fantastic Beasts film, with one fan reportedly saying that the decision insinuated that Dumbledore could “be gay in Rowling’s public appearance and tweets, but not on screen.”

Unsurprisingly, lines referencing Dumbledore and Grindelwald’s prior relationship were cut in the Chinese release of the film. According to The Hollywood Reporter, Warner Bros. agreed to remove six seconds of dialogue that reference the pair’s romantic past from the film for its release in China. The lines “I was in love with you” and “the summer Gellert and I fell in love” were cut from the film.

“As a studio, we’re committed to safeguarding the integrity of every film we release, and that extends to circumstances that necessitate making nuanced cuts in order to respond sensitively to a variety of in-market factors,” a Warner Bros. spokesperson told The Hollywood Reporter. “In the case of Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore, a six-second cut was requested and Warner Bros. accepted those changes to comply with local requirements but the spirit of the film remains intact.”

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