Rowling Lets Dumbledore Out of the Closet

Laughter, pride, anger as author Rowling pushes Potter mentor out of the closet.

February 12, 2009, 4:58 PM

Oct. 20, 2007 — -- Well, it's official. Albus Dumbledore, a hero of the phenomenally popular Harry Potter series and headmaster of the wizarding school Hogwarts, is gay.

That's right, Harry's mentor and father-figure would prefer a nice wizard to a hot witch any day.

In a surprising new Potter twist, author J.K. Rowling outed Dumbledore at New York's Carnegie Hall in front of 2,000 Potter fans during a question and answer session Friday night.

After reading an excerpt from the seventh installment of her series, "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows," one young fan asked if Dumbledore had ever loved anyone.

"Dumbledore is gay, actually," replied Rowling.

She was initially met with a surprised silence but ultimately the audience erupted in cheers for several minutes prompting Rowling to add, "I would have told you earlier if I knew it would make you so happy."

Rowling went on to explain that Dumbledore fell for Gellert Grindelwald, his childhood friend with similarly brilliant wizarding skills, who eventually went over to the dark side and became the predecessor to the infamous villain Voldemort. That love, explained Rowling, was Dumbledore's "great tragedy."

Rowling explained that the issue of Dumbledore's sexuality came up in the making of one of the Harry Potter films.

"In fact, recently I was in a script read-through for the sixth film, and they had Dumbledore saying a line to Harry early in the script, saying, 'I knew a girl once, whose hair--'"

The crowd laughed.

"I had to write a little note in the margin and slide it along to the scriptwriter -- 'Dumbledore's gay!'" she said.

Die-hard Potter muggles quickly reacted to the news online. The Harry Potter fan site had no less than 1,048 comments posted on the story as of early Saturday.

Many fans were thrilled with the announcement.

"This is a victory for homosexuality the world over," one wrote. "Dumbledore is iconic, and I can't wait for all those little children to hear about this. I am so insanely proud of [Rowling] for doing this."

But, not surprisingly, others were appalled.

"Thank you for permanently staining my view of Dumbledore," read a post from someone identifying himself or herself only as "Concerned Reader."

One major anti-Potter crusader is Laura Mallory, a mother of four from Georgia, who made headlines earlier this month when she told the Gwinnett County Board of Education that the series was trying to indoctrinate children into the Wicca religion. In response to Dumbledore's outing, Mallory told ABC News that the Potter series has "an anti-Christian agenda," and, "this only further supports that."

"My prayer is that parents would wake up, that the subtle way this is presented as harmless fantasy would be exposed for what it really is -- a subtle indoctrination into anti-Christian values," said Mallory. "The kids are being introduced to a cult and witchcraft practices.

"A homosexual lifestyle is a harmful one," she added. "That's proven, medically."

Not surprisingly, conservatives at Saturday's Values Voters' summit in Washington also had some thoughts on the now controversial wizard.

"I feel like children's books shouldn't be political -- they shouldn't have political ties, they're entertainment," attendee Katie Beach said. "I think it's pretty ridiculous for her to say that or to do that."

But none of that has stopped Rowling, who said she considers her novels as a "prolonged argument for tolerance," and urged her fans to "question authority."

Rowling's last Potter book, "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows," made history when it was released in July. Eleven million copies flew off shelves in the first 24 hours alone. And though the story chronicled the last of Harry's adventures, the renewed controversy may suggest Rowling's characters, muggle or wizard, gay or straight, will live on far beyond the end of the series.

ABC News Live

ABC News Live

24/7 coverage of breaking news and live events