Monday, October 22, 2007

One Wonders: Dumbledore's Unrequited Love

Last Friday evening - October 19th - while appearing at Carnegie Hall, J. K. Rowling, the super-wealthy authoress of the Harry Potter series, revealed to audience members that Albus Dumbledore, the beloved headmaster of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry was, in fact, gay. Fans also learned that he had had an unrequited love for one of the series' bad guys, Gellert Grindelwald, which was, in Rowling's words "his great tragedy."

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at PhotobucketWhile right-wing Christians are flipping out about the likelihood of literature transforming kids not only into witches, but gay witches - if only it were that easy - and certain gay rights activists are criticizing Rowling for not outing Dumbledore sooner, I would like to ask a different question:

As the Potter story has unfolded, we have seen Albus Dumbledore unfold from a kindly figure of authority to a person of truly saintly stature. Was it his unrequited love, or more specifically, recovery from that experience which led him to develop such strong, almost unassailable character?

Like most of us, I have experienced the torture of unrequited love. I met my first love when I was 9 and he was 10; I came out to him at 16 and he didn't return the favor. Instead, he remained in the closet until well into his 20s.

I chart my own journey of self-actualization to that one lightning bolt moment when I realized that much of my character developed in reaction to this all-consuming love for someone who didn't love me back. At the moment I started loving myself all the old pain went away. After all, if I loved myself, how could I resent the forces that shaped me?

I'm still far from being a saint, but I do love myself at last. I also realize how much more I could have accomplished in my first 30 years if I had loved myself all along.

Anyone else had any experiences parallel or contrary?

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1 comment:

michael sean morris said...

For my own sake I've had more unrequited loves than anything else. Being a naturally depressive and defeatist sort, I have neither learnt nor grown from the pain of rejection, unless I've learnt to never fall in love again.

I've worked really hard not to be bitter, and I believe I have transcended much of my bitterness. Obviously different people deal with pain differently, and it's these choices that shape us.

In Dumbledore's case, transcending the singular love embodied in a relationship by becoming an educator is just the sort of self-sacrifice Rowling has written about before - not to mention drawn fire for.

As for the shock of discovering Dumbledore's sexuality this late in the game, what's really at play here is ageism; nobody wanted to think of what Old Dumbledore might have been up to because they're too busy writing slash fiction about the scene in the Quidditch locker room.

Bravo to Rowling, I say, for understanding that gay men aren't all predatory perverts.