Harry Potter author JK Rowling has conjured an international media storm by outing Hogwarts headmaster Albus Dumbledore as gay.
Rowling stunned the audience at Carnegie Hall in New York, one of the stops on her US book tour, where the announcement was made.
When a curious student asked if Dumbledore had ever found true love, she announced, “Dumbledore is gay”. She revealed that the headmaster was in his youth smitten with Gellert Grindelwald – sparking the audience’s spontaneous applause.
“I would have told you sooner if I’d known it would make you so happy,” responded Rowling. But she cast Dumbledore in a more sombre light, adding that he had been “terribly let down” by Grindelwald, and that their love had been his “great tragedy”.
Rowling then described how she had had to intervene in the scripting of the film adaptation of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince by telling director David Yates to delete a reference to a girl who Dumbledore once knew.
She also said elsewhere that she had known Dumbledore’s true sexuality “probably before the first book was published”.
Yet whilst she promoted the novels as a “prolonged argument for tolerance”, Rowling recognised that the revelation would only give conservative Christian groups one more reason to dislike the books alongside the idea that they “promote witchcraft”.
But a spokesman for Stonewall, a leading national gay rights organisation, was happy with the news: “It’s great that JK has said this. It shows that there’s no limit to what gay and lesbian people can do, even being a wizard headmaster.”
The Harry Potter books have collectively sold more than 300 million copies worldwide, earning Rowling more money than any other novelist in history.
She is also a member of the Church of Scotland, which is currently divided as to what its stance should be on homosexual couples.