Guest Post: Three Reasons to Believe Dumbledore’s Sexuality will NOT be a Highlight of the Fantastic Beasts Films

Christina Semmens, a Potter Pundit I have known and whose work I have admired since our first meeting at the innaugral LeakyCon in Boston years ago, writes about the role ‘Gay Dumbledore’ will or will not play in the ‘Crimes of Grindelwald’ movie and later films in that series. She last shared her thoughts at HogwartsProfessor in a post on the hits and misses on the mobile app Harry Potter game. Enjoy her challenging thoughts below about why DDore’s sexuality will be downplayed in future feature films about his past!

Three Reasons I Believe Dumbledore’s Sexuality Will NOT Be a Highlight of the Fantastic Beasts Movie Franchise

Recently, I was sharing with a friend my excitement about the upcoming November 16th release of Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald. His response was very subdued, and when I queried him as to why, he responded, “I’m just not interested in seeing the whole Dumbledore-Grindelwald love story on screen.” I quickly assured him that I highly doubted that such a thing would happen, particularly since JK Rowling is the one writing the screenplay.

Although my comments seemed to mollify my friend enough that he was willing to go see the movie, his reaction caused me to reflect that perhaps other people might be having similar reservations. It seems a real possibility that people may shy away from seeing the upcoming Crimes (and the subsequent three movies in the franchise) due to the concern that instead of these “family movies” that are focusing upon the great struggle to decide what the proper interaction and treatment of all magical and non-magical beings and creatures in the wizarding world should be (and therein a commentary on our own world), that it will devolve instead into focusing upon the romantic interest of one of the most beloved characters of the Harry Potter world, Albus Percival Wulfric Brian Dumbledore.

First is the reality that the occasion on which Jo Rowling revealed Dumbledore’s sexuality was not a planned one, but rather was in response to a question about whether Dumbledore had ever fallen in love himself. Her response at the time in 2007 was:

“My truthful answer to you… I always thought of Dumbledore as gay. [ovation.] … Dumbledore fell in love with Grindelwald, and that that added to his horror when Grindelwald showed himself to be what he was. To an extent, do we say it excused Dumbledore a little more because falling in love can blind us to an extent? But, he met someone as brilliant as he was, and rather like Bellatrix he was very drawn to this brilliant person, and horribly, terribly let down by him. Yeah, that’s how I always saw Dumbledore.”

The fact that Jo Rowling intimates during an unplanned response that Dumbledore was “horribly, terribly let down by him” (Gellert Grindelwald) is indicative of my second reason why I don’t think Dumbledore’s sexuality is going to be a highlight of the Fantastic Beasts movie franchise.

And this is because of what Dumbledore himself has shared of himself throughout the Harry Potter series. He told Harry (and us) that his great “sin” was his lust for power, and that it was this desire improperly expressed that caused him to hold himself responsible for the death of his sister, Ariana. Additionally, Dumbledore recognized that it was his disordered desire for status and power that made him susceptible to Grindelwald’s charm and magnetism, and made him set aside his inner compass of what was good, right and just during that fateful summer when he met Grindelwald just after his graduation from Hogwarts.   

JKR shared in an interview in February of 2010 this insight into Dumbledore’s personality:

…so you can call it a fraternal bond (between DD and GG), but I think it makes it more tragic for Dumbledore. I also think it makes Dumbledore a little less culpable. I see him as fundamentally a very intellectual, brilliant and precocious person whose emotional life was absolutely subjugated to the life of the mind – by his choice – and then his first foray into the world of emotion is catastrophic and I think that would forevermore stunt that part of his life and leave it stultified and he would be, what he becomes. That’s what I saw as Dumbledore’s past. That’s always what I saw was in his past. And he keeps a distance between himself and others through humor, a certain detachment and a frivolity of manner. But he’s also isolated by his brain. He’s isolated by the fact he knows so much, guesses so much, guesses correctly.” [1]

It is this reality of Dumbledore’s own awareness and knowledge of his weakness to the temptation of Grindelwald, that I believe causes him to avoid interacting with this temptation at all costs–most probably to ensure that no one else dies because of his weakness, but is a fundamental cause for enlisting Newt’s help vs Dumbeldore’s concern that he is going to succumb to any possible sexual desires.

A third reason is that Jo Rowling is writing the Fantastic Beasts movie screenplays. Since Dumbeldore’s sexuality has never been the driving factor for his character in the books, I highly doubt that Jo Rowling is going to adjust that aspect of how Dumbeldore expresses his sexuality, particularly in light of how she consistently has written Dumbledore (and other characters of the wizarding world) as struggling to become “right-ordered” where the physical always lies at service to the mind, will and heart.

Even when the characters are fundamentally flawed by their worldview, like Grindelwald’s or Voldemort’s belief that wizards should rule “lesser beings and creatures,” or Hagrid’s opposite spectrum of ungoverned curiosity and fascination with magical creatures that he deems to be so precious that he fails to consider that these same creatures must be respected and cared for in their own environments or they will endanger others—Jo Rowling’s focus has consistently been upon the flaw (or deadly sin in Christian parlance) and the consequences/effects/impact of that flaw in the life of the character, rather than the characteristics of the person (like their sexuality) being the root of that flaw. It’s this very consistency of Jo Rowling’s properly “ordering” the lives of characters in the Harry Potter world, as well as Rowling’s own admission that the world has rules that govern it, that convinces me that Fantastic Beasts will be no different, and will not devolve into a social manifesto except for the continuous clarion call that we are called to be our better selves, and that we are not the sum of our mistakes, but have the capacity to choose  to become more as a result of self-sacrifice and love of the other.        

A final note regarding my thoughts that Jo Rowling will not emphasize Dumbledore’s sexuality in the movie can be found in the words of the Crimes film director, David Yates, himself. 

After the latest Crimes of Grindelwald movie trailer, a Youtube video was posted by Looper that addresses this issue. (As well as the controversy about the revelation of a woman called Nagini transforming into a snake. Whether this is Voldemort’s Nagini remains to be seen. But a link to this video is provided in the footnotes)

In that video, the following commentary is shared: 

“…another subsection of fans complain about Rowling’s history of revealing or changing details of the Harry Potter universe years after the series wrapped up. Most famously three months after the final book came out in 2007, she announced that Dumbledore was gay and had been in love with Grindelwald. Many applauded Rowling for the announcement, but some felt she was trying to have her cake and eat it too by pandering to LGBTQ fans without truly taking the perceived risk of actually portraying Dumbledore as gay in either the books or films. The Dumbledore controversy gained new energy in January 2018 when director David Yates revealed  that Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald won’t make it explicitly clear that the Dumbledore played by Jude Law is gay–despite the purported love of his life being at the center of the sequel story, but instead there seemed to be just vague hints for hardcore Harry Potter fans to decipher Dumbledore…” (italics mine) [2]

 It is this statement by David Yates, in addition to Jo Rowling’s own laser-like focus upon the essentials, rather than the details, of her characters’ motivations and their “right-ordered” approach to living, that assures me that the upcoming Fantastic Beasts movies will not be dwelling upon Dumbledore’s sexuality.

Rather I contend that the Fantastic Beasts movies will not only focus upon the larger issue of the great struggle to decide what the proper interaction and treatment of all magical and non-magical beings and creatures in the wizarding world should be, but will also showcase for us how Dumbledore struggles to come to terms with his guilt concerning the death of his sister, and his doubts concerning his own judgment and character, all in the face of the reality that Dumbledore was once enthralled and captivated by one of the most dangerous wizards of all time who is now intent on bringing war to both the wizarding and Muggle worlds.

My contention is that Dumbledore will finally accept that despite his flaws as a man, that it will be only the wizarding skills of Albus Percival Wulfric Brian Dumbledore that can defeat Gellert Grindelwald, the man and wizard with whom Dumbledore not only dreamed a dream of making the wizarding and Muggle worlds far better places, but before the tragedy of Ariana’s death, the man whom Dumbledore had also once called his best friend.    

Christina Semmens is a Roman Catholic missionary who can attest to the powerful nature of the Harry Potter stories for inspiring each of us to live lives of virtue while courageously reflecting love and mercy in a world that so desperately needs it. She currently lives in Fort Payne, Alabama. 




  1. Kelly loomis says

    I agree it won’t be THE focus…however, it will be part of the story. A recent tie-in magazine – “Empire” – released this week – has a couple of quotes – one by Yates and one by Law directed at this question.

    Of course, Rowling has many more important points to make and questions to answer in this series. Her overarching themes will be about choices. Dumbledore’s choices are just part of this.

  2. Here is what Yates said, in case you’re interested:

    David Yates: “Dumbledore is not out as a gay man in this film.”

    “This part of this huge narrative that Jo [J.K. Rowling] is creating doesn’t focus on his sexuality, but we’re not airbrushing or hiding it. The story [of the romantic relationship] isn’t there in this particular movie but it’s clear in what you see… that he is gay.”

    “A couple of scenes we shot are very sensual moments of him and the young Grindelwald. I think people just have to wait and see and appreciate that in movies to come that relationship with be explored much more fully.’

    You can read that the way you want. It seems a promise of sorts that Gay DDore is evident to those ‘with eyes to see’ in Crimes of Grindelwald, i.e., that, without being explicit (and risking alienation of the family audience, not to mention being banned in China), scenes like the one in the trailer before the Mirror of Erised are meant as sops to those in fandom who want to see a same sex relationship between DDore and GellertG in these films.

    Given the ugly grooming relationship of mature GrindelGraves and boy Credence in Fantastic Beasts, I’m surprised anyone in LGBTQ+ circles would want the disastrous DDore/GG friendship spelled out. One of them, after all, is a power mad psychopath, not exactly a poster child for the cause, right?

    Rowling told The LeakyCauldron after the publication of Deathly Hallows, that DDore sees his sister Ariana in the Mirror of Erised:

    Allie: What did Dumbledore truly see in the Mirror of Erised?
    J.K. Rowling: He saw his family alive, whole and happy – Ariana, Percival and Kendra all returned to him, and Aberforth reconciled to him.

    In 2018, though, we learn he wasn’t over Grindelwald yet? At least, not as a young man? If we know what DDore eventually comes to see, what does that tell us about the ultimate quality of his relationship with Grindlewald?

    I think we wind up back to the points Christina Semmens makes above. There will be sops thrown to those demanding the relationship be highlighted, but it won’t be. Not that we won’t see a lot of online fist pumping about the pointers!

  3. David James says

    John…..You’re spot on with your observation about the Dumbledore/Grindelwald relationship and how it will be approached in the FB movies.

    We have posted on this a couple of times already but it seems (Gay Factor) to be the “focus” of many in the media and a good portion of the fandom.

    As JKR has noted in the Adeel article from years ago. The relationship between Dumbledore/Grindelwald was intimate for a time. They burned with the same vision for Wizarding World domination and eventually even over the Muggle world. That is what brought them together in relationship at first. Rowling stated that of all the issues so important to Dumbledore leading up to being one of the most powerful wizards in the series, his sexuality was down the list. She stated there are a hundred more things important to the man and what he accomplished up to his sacrifice in the defeat of the Dark Lord….. than his sexuality.

  4. Emma Nicholson says

    I’ve given up speculating on what will and will not appear in movies before the released.

    Too often of late, studios have (disgracefully) cut out large chunks of movies and leant on movie makers to squeeze films into smaller time slots.

    Shorter films mean more screenings per day, which equates to more box office dollars.

    This has lately been of huge detriment to the films, at times leaving film goers scratching their heads at what appears to be a “shoddy plot” and “bad story telling”.

    Recent cases in point being The Predator (which cut out additional Predators), Suicide Squad (which switche the lead focus from Harley Quinn to show more Will Smith) and Justice League (please let’s just forget that and move on).

    Put back into the film all the missing pieces (some of which already appear in trailers and promo materials) and suddenly the film makers vision returns in the form of a much better movie (usually on blu ray $$$)

    Point being, even if the scenes were shot, put in the trailer, and are critical to our understanding of the story… never rule out some greedy studio executive leaning on the director and editor to see brilliant scenes left on the cutting room floor.

  5. The almost complete article on ‘Crimes of Grindelwald’ in Empire magazine can now be read at via this link. The whole thing gives the impression that Yates was extremely upset by the blowback from the LGBTQ+ community within fandom that he was ‘straight-washing’ DDore and, that this is not the case, will be evident in future films.

    The article also gives what is essentially an outline of the action in ‘Crimes of Grindelwald.’ I confess to being startled by reading what seems almost an outline of the film’s Wikipedia page’s ‘Plot’ section. Enjoy — or avoid!

  6. I am very dismayed, that so many aspects which became known about the upcoming movie are frequently discussed in a very controversial way although we don’t even know, yet, how things will play out in the long run. Dumbledore’s sexual orientation and how the movies will handle it, has become a bone of contention before the movie even opened. And Claudia Kim’s very intriguing Nagini character has generated another wave of breathless excitement fuelled by political correctness, although we don’t have the foggiest idea how this specific story line will eventually play out. Personally I am not at all convinced that it will be as straight forward as Claudia Kim turning into a snake forever and eventually winding up as Voldy’s pet snake and horcrux, which gets ultimately destroyed by Neville. I can envision many different alternative plot lines. It probably depends on how Claudia Kim’s character will be developed. If we can sympathize with her and like her, I highly doubt that JK has constructed no way out for her. So, let’s discuss and criticize these subjects when we actually know which path the makers will take and how the story will unfold.
    As to Dumbledore’s sexual orientation: I believe that it will be an important part of the plot insofar as his relationship with Grindelwald will be a central to the story. I do not expect that JK and Yates will be totally cryptic about Dumbledore being gay. JK made her bed once and for all when she led the cat out of the bag many years ago and declared unequivocally that Dumbledore was gay. However I don’t expect that Dumbledore will be shown in the upcoming movies as an active member of a gay (wizard) community ☺

  7. Personally I am very intrigued by the upcoming movies and how they will handle increasingly dark and adult themes. I liked the first movie a lot – although it felt a bit padded at times and the balance between comedy and darker themes wasn’t always effective. While I totally loved the niffler I could’ve done without the Central Park slapsticks in connection with catching a fantastic beast in heat, lol. But I thought FB1 was a lot better and more rounded than the Harry-Potter movies, since it didn’t have to deal with all the problems of turning a novel into a movie. As a script writer JK has a lot more control over the finished product.

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