The Wikipedia War Over Dumbledore’s Sexuality

By Deane Barker

J.K. Rowling, author of the Harry Potter series, dropped a bombshell on fans this morning when she announced that Albus Dumbledore had been gay all along.

This was also a bombshell to Wikipedia, for different reasons, and the result is fascinating to follow.

Some people apparently ran right to their computers and edited Dumbledore’s entry. This was considered obvious vandalism by some who hadn’t heard the news, so they reverted the page. So for a while, it was a war between the informed and the uninformed, with edits and reverts flying.

Finally, the news hit mainstream media, and you saw things like this on the discussion page.

GOOD LORD! The vandals were right all along! This throws my entire worldview out of balance! Aiiegh!

Then it became an argument about whether or not she was serious. More from the discussion page:

JKR may have said this but she has been known to use sarcasm in public comments in the past. Especially when she perceives that she and her work are being taken unduly seriously. As Dumbledore’s sexual orientation is never addressed in the books, and as no new books are forthcoming, this quip will forever remain outside the canon. I’d like to see those refs fixed soon or I would be inclined to remove the whole sentence.

But does it matter if she was kidding? She said it, right?

I think you’re going to be alone on this one. It’s pretty obvious she was kidding. As for the phrase being “outside canon,” what the author says is the highest form of canon. Dumbledore is gay.

But…she didn’t say it in a book!

What the author says in her work is the highest form of canon. When she writes another book and has Albus and Gellert singing “Over The Rainbow” wearing matching sailor suits I’ll buy it. Until then, she’s (probably) kidding.

And on and on. At this point, I think it’s down to people who want accuracy and those who refuse to admit Dumbledore might have been gay. My last reading of the page had this as its first sentence:

Albus Percival Wulfric Brian Dumbledore is a fictional character within the Harry Potter series written by British author J. K. Rowling and is not gay.

Though now it looks like a new section called “Sexuality” has been created for it, and someone has achieved some kind of balance by mentioning that it was just something Rowling said, and never appeared in the books.

Although never mentioned explicitly in the books, Rowling has stated that Dumbledore was gay, attributing Dumbledore’s friendship with Grindelwald to Dumbledore’s infatuation with him, calling this love Dumbledore’s “great tragedy.”

Someone applied for protection for the page, but was denied. The page is going on 150 edits just this morning.

I find this stuff fascinating. The open nature of Wikipedia is both its blessing and its curse.

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