Just in case you needed some more disappointing news about the Fantastic Beasts franchise, in a recent interview with Entertainment Weekly, director David Yates has said that Dumbledore’s (Jude Law) sexuality will not be part of The Crimes of Grindelwald, the next film in the series.
When asked if The Crimes of Grindelwald will address Dumbledore’s sexuality, Yates responded: “Not explicitly,” adding: “But I think all the fans are aware of that. He had a very intense relationship with Grindelwald [played by Johnny Depp] when they were young men. They fell in love with each other’s ideas, and ideology and each other.”
The thing is: the fans are not clear on that because none of this has ever been explicitly stated in the text. Sure, you can read between the lines if you want to, but the only reason we know Dumbledore is gay is because J.K. Rowling made an announcement after the fact, which arguably isn’t canon—it’s not by my definition.
“I always thought of Dumbledore as gay,” Rowling said at a 2007 event at Carnegie Hall. “Dumbledore fell in love with Grindelwald, and that added to his horror when Grindelwald showed himself to be what he was.” This isn’t representation so much as a well-intentioned but ultimately empty attempt to add canonical representation that isn’t actually there.
This means that, over the course of seven books, eight film adaptations, one stage sequel, and at least one prequel, there have been no canon queer characters in the Harry Potter universe. This includes The Cursed Child, which some have accused of queerbaiting when it comes to the central relationship of Albus Potter and Scorpius Malfoy and had the opportunity to add some queer context in its reflection of the seven books.
While some may argue that there’s no need to define Dumbledore’s sexuality in a film that is not explicitly about his love life, that argument becomes much thinner when the plot of the film includes a reunion between Dumbledore and his ex-lover/current nemesis Grindelwald. This feels like relevant, meaty context to explore, or at least mention as part of the central plot. It informs how both characters act and make decisions when it comes to the other.
“[Dumbledore]’s a maverick and a rebel and he’s an inspiring teacher at Hogwarts,” said Yates of the character in the film. “He’s witty and has a bit of edge. He’s not this elder statesman. He’s a really kinetic guy. And opposite Johnny Depp as Grindelwald, they make an incredible pairing.”
But, not, apparently, an incredible pairing with any kind of explicit romantic or sexual history. Well, there’s always the next three films in the Fantastic Beasts franchise…