“I always thought of Dumbledore as gay. Dumbledore fell in love with Grindelwald, and that added to his horror when Grindelwald showed himself to be what he was.”
With those words, J.K. Rowling famously outed Dumbledore and sent waves through ‘Harry Potter’ fandom, and indeed through pop culture. Coming as it did in the wake of the final book’s release, this revelation has had little direct impact on the story of the Potterverse, instead informing fans’ understanding of Dumbledore as a character (Rowling has since described him not as a gay character, but as a character who happens to be gay).
But that all seems poised to change over the course of the ongoing ‘Fantastic Beasts’ films. Set as they are during Grindelwald’s reign of terror, they present an opportunity to elaborate on any number of backstory elements. That includes, perhaps most obviously, Dumbledore’s sexuality and his relationship with Grindelwald. In point of fact, both characters will be appearing in this year’s ‘Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald’ (played by Jude Law and Johnny Depp respectively), though director David Yates has stated that the film will not be dealing with Dumbledore’s sexuality.
“Not explicitly. But I think all the fans are aware of that. He had a very intense relationship with Grindelwald when they were young men. They fell in love with each other’s ideas, and ideology, and each other.”
On the face of it, that seems a bit disappointing, as though the film is sidestepping the matter and relying on fan knowledge to fill in the blanks. But in fairness, it remains to be seen not only how the subject will be broached (if at all) in ‘The Crimes of Grindelwald’, but also in the other planned ‘Fantastic Beasts’ films. And Rowling herself (who is writing the various ‘Fantastic Beasts’ scripts) has hinted in the past that the matter of Dumbledore’s sexuality will be addressed. As the author stated at a press conference ahead of the first film’s release:
“I can’t tell you everything I would like to say because this is obviously a five-part story so there’s a lot to unpack in that relationship. You will see Dumbledore as a younger man and quite a troubled man – he wasn’t always the sage… We’ll see him at that formative period of his life. As far as his sexuality is concerned… watch this space.”
Directed by David Yates from a screenplay by ‘Harry Potter’ creator J.K. Rowling, ‘Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald’ stars Eddie Redmayne, Katherine Waterston, Dan Fogler, Alison Sudol, Johnny Depp, Zoe Kravitz, and Jude Law. The film is scheduled for release on November 16, 2018.