No magic solutions in real world

becky.korpi and becky.korpi

I knew that Albus Dumbledore, the head of Hogwarts School in the famed “Harry Potter” series, was gay when he brushed fingers with Severus Snape on page 423 of book four and smiled all the way back to his office. It was so obvious, and as I shut off my lamp after reading that passage I drifted off to sleep smiling as though I was keeping a secret.
OK, not really. I made that up. I actually had no idea until author JK Rowling made her announcement in front of a packed Carnegie Hall audience. She was in the United States promoting “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows,” the final book in the series, when a fan asked her if Dumbledore ever found true love.
Rowling’s response: “Dumbledore is gay, actually.”
Woah.a homosexual figure in an insanely popular young adult series? For weeks, I kept up on headlines, waiting for parents to cry foul. You can’t just throw the word “gay” out there without a subsequent shower of fire and brimstone, right?
But stories of book burnings or mass riots never surfaced. Fans were shocked at the news but it appeared as though everyone was actually OK with Dumbledore’s outing.
I never thought I’d see the recipe for homosexual acceptance in my lifetime, but this is apparently it: a large, smitten crowd, a microphone and a powerful female author who randomly introduces someone’s sexuality and is then quoted as saying, “I would have told you earlier if I knew it would make you so happy.”
Is that what I should’ve said seven years ago when disclosing my own gayness? My “coming out” was not as well-received as Dumbledore’s, but maybe I did it wrong. Or maybe it was different because my life is real instead of a sugarcoated book series.
It’s bad enough that this country has such a rough time accommodating flesh-and-blood homosexuals, but playing favorites with fictional ones is low. There was a big stink a few years ago when the late Rev. Jerry Falwell went on a rampage against the “Teletubbies” character Tinky Winky. Falwell argued that because Tinky bore an upside down triangle on his head – a symbol used to identify homosexuals during the Holocaust – he was gay. Young viewers didn’t yet know the words “mom” or “dad” let alone the word “gay,” but Falwell insisted that Tinky was a sinner, and parents ate it up.
More recently, cartoon icon Spongebob Squarepants has had his orientation questioned by conservative Christian groups. I’m sure this effeminate character who holds hands with his same-sex best friend needs no other introduction. Creator Stephen Hillenburg told “The Wall Street Journal” in 2005 that Squarepants is “kind of special,” but not in the way that these groups insinuate.
Granted, these characters came under fire for being only allegedly gay, but now that one with an extreme degree of popularity is actually gay, it’s fine. Maybe the fact that Rowling is worshiped in the U.S. has something to do with it. She single-handedly created a cast of characters that kids, teens and adults have come to consider close friends.
If the decision-makers in the United States were Potter fans, would they consider allowing gay marriage to make Dumbledore happy? Rowling would have to publish a wedding album, and fans would buy it and forget that they’re opposed to the idea when real people are involved. Maybe she’ll reveal this during her next promotional event. In the meantime, the rest of us in the gay community will continue to struggle for acceptance because, unlike literary figures, we actually have to fight for ours.