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Author Topic: Rowling Says Dumbledore Is Gay
Chris Bridges
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I think Rowling has just held all this info in her head for a decade and is now bubbling over with it, especially when filled with a room of adoring fans who want to know everything.

But yeah, I would have liked to gotten more info in the final chapter...

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Foust
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Something like this could only happen in fantasy or sci fi. If an author from any other genre said something this random about one of their characters, they'd just get a blank stare. If its not in the text, its not in the story. Scifi/fantasy seems to work differently; the readers are more willing to accept that the universe extends beyond the edges of the book in a way that, say, Cormac McCarthy's don't.
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dkw
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quote:
Originally posted by BlackBlade:
Look the only reason I can see it being creepy to some is that within homosexuality there IS a brand where an older sage like character cultivates sexual relationships with young inexperienced male adolescents.

And it's just as common with heterosexual men seeking out young inexperienced female adolescents. And, as we've seen in recent teacher scandals, it happens with older women and teenage boys as well.
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Tante Shvester
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I don't know what the big deal is. I always assumed that Dumbledore was gay.
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kmbboots
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Tante, to borrow a phrase, you crack me the heck up.
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The Rabbit
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The biggest problem with Rowling comments is that they aren't consistent. She contradicts her self every other day.
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Tatiana
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Really? What has she said that's contradictory?
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The Rabbit
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In one interview she said Ron went in to business with George at the Joke shop. In another she said he became an Auror with Harry.

I'll have to see if I can come up with more. I don't follow it that closely.

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kojabu
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I believe he did the joke shop before becoming an Auror.
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steven
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OK, now does anybody see why I find it a waste of my time to have Rowling coming out with all this, in dribs and drabs, unpredictably, in no good order? These discussions could go on for years, and almost certainly will. It's largely pointless to even make clear definitive statements of fact about the characters and their motivations if this keeps going. I feel like I should have waited for her to die before I read the last book.
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Tatiana
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steven if you don't want to know, you can just avoid threads about it and stuff, can't you? I mean, is it really that hard?
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steven
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You really don't see it as a waste of your time, Tatiana?

I'd pretty much have to run screaming from Ornery, Hatrack, Sake River, etc, etc., etc., ad infinitum, to completely miss such things. This is the kind of thing they might even mention on the news, on a slow night.

I mean, whatever.

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Dagonee
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quote:
Don't Maiar choose their sex? If they do, there's no such thing as a 'gay' maiar. I could be wrong, though...
The Valar have inherent gender, and the forms they take reflect this (in other words, their gender does not reflect their choice of bodily form; rather, their bodily form reflects their inherent gender. See the second to last page of the Ainulindale (the first section of the Silmarillion):

"But when they desire to clothe themselves the Valar take upon them forms some of as male and some as of female; for that difference of temper they had even from their beginning, and it is but bodied forth in the choice of each, not made by choice, even as with us male and female may be shown by the raiment but is not made thereby."

There's no explicit statement that the same applies to the Maiar, but the Valar and the Maiar are the same type of being (collectively the Ainur), "of the same order as the Valar but of less degree." See "Of the Maiar" in the Valaquenta.

There are numerous references to specifically male and female Maiar: Osse and Uinen are husband and wife; Olorin is specifically referred to as a he; Melian is the wife of Thingol; and Arien who guides the Sun is a "maiden" and Tilion was "he that steered the island of the moon."

I can't find anything that suggests the Maiar are genderless, and everything I know about Tolkien and his beliefs makes me think this is intentional.

[ October 20, 2007, 09:57 PM: Message edited by: Dagonee ]

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Eowyn-sama
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Yeah, I'm willing to bet that Tolkien would agree with C.S. Lewis' theory (or at least the theory expressed in his fantasy) that masculine and feminine qualities are extra-physical and that the human male and female are merely an expression of these qualities. (See Perelandra and That Hideous Strength for the full explanation)

edit: I'm not sure what this has to do with Dumbledore, sorry!

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Synesthesia
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I was there [Big Grin]
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Flaming Toad on a Stick
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quote:
Originally posted by Foust:
Something like this could only happen in fantasy or sci fi. If an author from any other genre said something this random about one of their characters, they'd just get a blank stare. If its not in the text, its not in the story. Scifi/fantasy seems to work differently; the readers are more willing to accept that the universe extends beyond the edges of the book in a way that, say, Cormac McCarthy's don't.

Not this reader, at least.

And I can't really see why Dumbledore being gay makes those parts of the book any more powerful.

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Tatiana
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quote:
Originally posted by steven:
You really don't see it as a waste of your time, Tatiana?

I'd pretty much have to run screaming from Ornery, Hatrack, Sake River, etc, etc., etc., ad infinitum, to completely miss such things. This is the kind of thing they might even mention on the news, on a slow night.

I mean, whatever.

So instead, we should not think or talk about things that we care about, and consider to be worth our time, in order to spare you? Where are you going with this? [Smile]
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Synesthesia
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They didn't get it totally accurate.
She said, "Actually I always thought of him as gay." or something like that. She said in the 6th movie they were to have some annoying part about Dumbledore telling Harry about some girl he liked, but JKR put a sticky saying HE'S GAY on the line.

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steven
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"So instead, we should not think or talk about things that we care about, and consider to be worth our time, in order to spare you? Where are you going with this?"

I don't care that much, for myself. I'd have said nothing if others had said nothing.

What's going to be annoying is if, in 40 years, she's all "Harry's a girl, Hermione's a house plant, and Dobby was Voldemort's love child", or some equally ridiculous stuff.

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Threads
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While Rowling may write the books, we each have our own unique vision of the story. If you can't stand the idea of Dumbledore being gay then don't make him gay in your mind. I see nothing wrong with personally altering details that don't make or break a story. There have been numerous occasions where I've missed, say, a physical description of a character and haven't realized until I've already formed a mental image of the character. If this happens I generally just keep my own image of the character and toss out the author's (most recent example I can think of is when I made a main character a brunette rather than a blond because that was my initial impression of her). Dumbledore's sexual preference hardly plays a major role in the series, so it's not a big deal to ignore the fact that Rowling made him gay. In retrospect I think it makes sense in the context of Dumbledore's actions (especially from books six and seven), but it's not something to get distressed about if you don't like the idea.
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Fyfe
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quote:
And I can't really see why Dumbledore being gay makes those parts of the book any more powerful.
Because he was in love with Grindelwald. Think about it. Dumbledore spends his life unable to find anyone who is his intellectual equal, because he's just so darn smart, and then he finally meets someone who IS, and he falls for him like a ton of bricks, thereby suspending his usually excellent powers of critical judgment. And then everything goes spectacularly to hell when Grindelwald attacks the family; Dumbledore then has to deal with the knowledge that the aforementioned suspension of critical judgment killed his sister; and later on, he has to go forth and do battle against the only person he's ever been in love with. And conquer him and lock him up in a prison all alone for the rest of his life. Because he can't decently do anything else.

Ouch. That hurts my heart. Poor guy.

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Synesthesia
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Me too.
Poor Dumbledore. It's amazing that he became such an awesome person despite all the stuff he went through

Which is one theme of this story.

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Dagonee
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If the suspension of critical judgment is based on Dumbledore's falling for Grindelwald like a ton of bricks, I think it makes the whole recollection less powerful: it transforms a seduction by an appealing but ultimately evil philosophy into romantic desire overriding good sense, reducing a powerful theme of means and ends into an after school special.

Note that this objection is not based solely on D being gay, but on reinterpreting that as the reason for D's flirtation with "for their own good" justifications for totalitarianism.

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steven
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Dumbledore's gayness doesn't bother me. It's the inexplicable lameness of it all that is trying to one's patience. She clearly thought out which scenes would go in the books, and which ones wouldn't, and how certain scenes would be written, and did an excellent job of planning all that out. It was wonderful, though I wouldn't cry if she let OSC or Stephen King do a rewrite. I like her little world, and her story, but those guys have better writing chops. They know it, too, and say it, too. It's funny.

What she didn't think out was how to reveal the things that never made it into the books. She needs to hire somebody to advise her on that, preferably, again, OSC, or Stephen King.

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Puffy Treat
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Dumbledore being infatuated with Grindlewald doesn't really make the story all that more poignant to me than if the friendship had had no element of attraction.

And we still know very little of Dumbledore's life beyond the few tidbits divulged in the books. I hesitate to say Grindlewald was the only intellectual great Dumbledore encountered, or even was attracted to. We don't know. That way lies a thousand emo slash fan-fics. [Smile]

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KarlEd
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quote:
Originally posted by Dagonee:
If the suspension of critical judgment is based on Dumbledore's falling for Grindelwald like a ton of bricks, I think it makes the whole recollection less powerful: it transforms a seduction by an appealing but ultimately evil philosophy into romantic desire overriding good sense, reducing a powerful theme of means and ends into an after school special.

Note that this objection is not based solely on D being gay, but on reinterpreting that as the reason for D's flirtation with "for their own good" justifications for totalitarianism.

Which could very well be why she didn't put it in the book.

I think it's very common for authors to give characters backstory and details of personal history that never makes it into the actual book, but nonetheless may influence it.

Also, it's not at all exclusive to Sci-fi or Fantasy (as Foust suggests) that characters exist in a world beyond the words on the published page. Heck, entire English departments thrive on discussing the implications that the words on the page might reveal about the story's larger universe, across nearly every genre.

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Chris Bridges
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Something I loved about Roger Zelazny's writing was that his characters had lives beyond his books. Before he started a novel, he would frequently write long stories or even novellas about his characters that were never meant to be published, just to give them a history they could refer to.
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Saephon
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I just thought of something:
What if all those uber-conservative Christians and ministers are now afraid the books will turn children into gay wizards [Big Grin]

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Itsame
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[ROFL]
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Scott R
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I have no problems with her coming out with extra facts about her characters. All writers do it; most of us don't have the platform that Rowling has, so when we talk about our characters extra-literary lives, no one really pays attention.

Foust, your comments about this phenomenon in speculative fiction vs. mainstream fiction are wrong. Reworks have been done of Little Women, Les Miserable, the Phantom of the Opera, Gone with the Wind...

The part of her interview that bothered me most was her saying that HP could be taken as an extended metaphor for tolerance. I don't really see it.

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0Megabyte
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Oddly enough, I was thinkin gsomething similar when I first read this.

"Just great. Now the fundies have another stupid thing to take a pot shot at in this series."

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Puffy Treat
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It was one of those "innately evil and stupid fundamentalist Christians" who first introduced me to the Harry Potter, strongly recommending that I read it. Because she felt it was so good, and destined to be great.

Just sayin'.

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Fyfe
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quote:
If the suspension of critical judgment is based on Dumbledore's falling for Grindelwald like a ton of bricks, I think it makes the whole recollection less powerful: it transforms a seduction by an appealing but ultimately evil philosophy into romantic desire overriding good sense, reducing a powerful theme of means and ends into an after school special.
Sorry; I wasn't clear. That seduction by an evil philosophy is certainly going on too, and it is quite moving: These ideas are incredibly seductive to Dumbledore; he's a lonely, brilliant kid who's had to put his life permanently on hold because with matters as they presently stand, his sister cannot be accepted by his community.

But I also think there's something else going on, which is that Dumbledore is lying to himself about Grindelwald because he's in love with him. It's sad because it's true, that's what people do. I know I've been there. You tell yourself lies about the person you love so that you can continue to believe that's a person you can be with. It's always painful when you eventually have to admit you were wrong. But imagine if you had to define your entire life, as Dumbledore clearly does, by (some pretty terrible) mistakes you made as a result of the lies you told yourself about someone.

As I said, ouch.

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BlackBlade
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quote:
Originally posted by dkw:
quote:
Originally posted by BlackBlade:
Look the only reason I can see it being creepy to some is that within homosexuality there IS a brand where an older sage like character cultivates sexual relationships with young inexperienced male adolescents.

And it's just as common with heterosexual men seeking out young inexperienced female adolescents. And, as we've seen in recent teacher scandals, it happens with older women and teenage boys as well.
You are correct which is why I initially posited the "Dumbledelores" scenario. If Harry Potter (Henriette Potter?) had been a girl this whole time and Dumbledore had had the same intimate close relationship with "her" there would also be to some that hint of, "Is Dumbledore a creepy old man?"

I personally don't see it in any of the text, I think Dumbledore is a wonderful man that I'd very much enjoy knowing, I'm simply saying how I can see the revelation of Dumbledore's homosexuality, for some, changes the lens they see the books through, and to me it's not completely unreasonable.

0Megabyte: I read plenty of movie reviews, and many of my friends trashed the movie, "Signs" because in the end *SPOILERS!* I SAY AGAIN *SPOILERS* Mel Gibson's problems are solved by his reborn faith in God.

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Synesthesia
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Ridiculous
Dumbledore isn't a creapy old man, but a warm loving father figure.

But it's a shame he has to be at a distance most of the time because he's forging a weapon against Voldermort most of the time.

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Elizabeth
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Dumbledore is not gay. He is a metrosexual.
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TomDavidson
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quote:

The part of her interview that bothered me most was her saying that HP could be taken as an extended metaphor for tolerance. I don't really see it.

Given that the bad guys are all wealthy snobs who want to institute a master race, and the good guys are a bunch of ragtag weirdos who're disinclined to play society's games, I can see where she's going with this. It's still not an extended metaphor, but certainly tolerance of the different is one of the running themes.
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kmbboots
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quote:
Originally posted by Scott R:

The part of her interview that bothered me most was her saying that HP could be taken as an extended metaphor for tolerance. I don't really see it.

Are you being facetious here? I ask because it would be kind of hard to miss. The whole point was about accepting diversity. The "bad guys" were bad guys because because they thought only people like themselves were people. Goodness half their rhetoric could be lifted from Nazi propaganda.
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katharina
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There is a difference between a theme and an extended metaphor.
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Lisa
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quote:
Originally posted by steven:
OK, now does anybody see why I find it a waste of my time to have Rowling coming out with all this, in dribs and drabs, unpredictably, in no good order? These discussions could go on for years, and almost certainly will. It's largely pointless to even make clear definitive statements of fact about the characters and their motivations if this keeps going. I feel like I should have waited for her to die before I read the last book.

You really do seem to think that is wrong for people to say things you don't want to hear. It must be lovely to be the center of the universe.
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steven
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Lisa, go pet a kitty or something. You're way too prickly.
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kmbboots
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How are you defining "metaphor" in such a way that the goals of the purebloods/death eaters is not a metaphor for intolerance and racism?
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theamazeeaz
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I don't see the random tidbits as random.

Rowling's on a book tour and kids ask questions about character's backstories because they know she invented them. Look how rich the personalities of all the minor characters are.

This particular tour is her first book signing tour in the US since book 3.

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Scott R
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kmboots--

I'm not being facetious. If the series was meant to be an extended metaphor on tolerance, then we should have seen more of what redeeming features the scrappy non-conformists saw in Muggle and Mudblood societies.

But we didn't really; the argument that we didn't see these things because we LIVE them is a false one-- the metaphor would have required someone from a separate culture than our own to evaluate and define Muggle/Mudblood as worthwhile.

There were no strong Muggle characters presented to strengthen the metaphor.

I'd argue that tolerance wasn't even really a theme-- wise/good use of inherent/unearned power was though. No one in any of the seven books mentioned integrating with the Muggles; no one mentioned that the Secrecy codes were evil in and of themselves. (As far as I can remember)

In my opinion the theme of tolerance is shallow within the Potterverse.

But you're welcome to have other opinions.

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steven
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I actually agree with Scott, sort of, although I think Rowling does, to some degree, consider tolerance a "virtue".

I see the books as a major WWII metaphor. Come on, you've got Hitler, part-Jewish, who wants to lead a bunch of pure-blood Germans, and Voldemort, part-Muggle, who wants to lead a bunch of purebloods.

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Dagonee
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quote:
no one mentioned that the Secrecy codes were evil in and of themselves.
Exactly. As long as the wizards reserve for themselves the right to invade Muggles' minds and determine what they think and remember, the wizard society is based on a fundamentally immoral structure. The only one who ever questions this is Harry, and he accepts Hagrid's explanation without question.
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C3PO the Dragon Slayer
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What I find creepy is what Dumbledore was thinking when he was with, not Grindlewald, but Nicholas Flamel. THAT's the creepy part.
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DDDaysh
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Ok... personally I find it creepy that anyone bothered to think of Dumbledore's sexuality at all. I mean come ON, he wasn't just old, he was ancient!

Not once, in ANY of the seven books, did I wonder what his sex life was like.

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Damien.m
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quote:
Originally posted by Dagonee:
quote:
no one mentioned that the Secrecy codes were evil in and of themselves.
Exactly. As long as the wizards reserve for themselves the right to invade Muggles' minds and determine what they think and remember, the wizard society is based on a fundamentally immoral structure. The only one who ever questions this is Harry, and he accepts Hagrid's explanation without question.
SS/PS page 13
McGonagall: "A fine thing it would be if, on the very day You-Know-Who seems to have disappeared at last, the Muggles found out about us all."

Shes not calling the secrecy laws evil or anything but it shows that the wise, at least, wish the truth to be known.

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Dagonee
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She was being sarcastic. She doesn't think the secrecy laws are bad at all nor does she want the Muggles to find out about the Wizarding World.
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