Dumbledore is gay. This is a known thing in Harry Potter lore. But, when asked about how the character’s love life might be portrayed in the upcoming Fantastic Beasts sequel, director David Yates made it seem like that part of the future Hogwarts headmaster’s life will be... minimized.
Jude Law will be playing Albus Dumbledore in Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald, which focuses on the titular evil wizard played by Johnny Depp. In an interview with Entertainment Weekly, Yates gave an elliptical answer to whether Dumbledore’s sexuality—something author J.K. Rowling herself didn’t reveal until after all seven Harry Potter books were released—will be explored:
“Not explicitly,” Yates replied when asked if the film makes it clear that Dumbledore is gay. “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.”
In 2016 Rowling spoke about the possibility of Dumbledore’s on-screen sexuality in the Fantastic Beasts movies, as EW reminded us:
“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.”
When Rowling revealed that Dumbledore was gay in 2007, it was a significant moment. Harry Potter had established itself as one of the most buzzed-about entertainment franchises in the world and having a major character be gay—despite being revealed after the fact—was a big deal.
Times have largely changed for the better in terms of queer representation in pop culture, so why so hesitant to go all in now? Two years ago, Rowling sad “watch this space,” but Yates’ remarks feel timid and retrograde. Saying that an upcoming movie is going to rely on ambient fan knowledge instead of actually showing a known facet of a character’s life feels like a cop-out. Especially so when you consider the story specifically involves him and Grindelwald, a wizard Rowling has said Dumbledore had feelings for, even if they weren’t reciprocated. If you’re going to say a character is gay, then show it. You don’t need magic to do that.