JK Rowling announced in 2007 to an audience at Carnegie Hall that Albus Dumbledore was in fact, gay and always had been...

Q: Did Dumbledore, who believed in the prevailing power of love, ever fall in love himself?

JKR: My truthful answer to you... I always thought of Dumbledore as gay. [ovation.] ... Dumbledore fell in love with Grindelwald, and that that added to his horror when Grindelwald showed himself to be what he was. To an extent, do we say it excused Dumbledore a little more because falling in love can blind us to an extent? But, he met someone as brilliant as he was, and rather like Bellatrix he was very drawn to this brilliant person, and horribly, terribly let down by him. Yeah, that's how I always saw Dumbledore. 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... [laughter]. I had to write a little note in the margin and slide it along to the scriptwriter, "Dumbledore's gay!" [laughter] "If I'd known it would make you so happy, I would have announced it years ago!"

Was there ever any textual evidence in the Harry Potter novels that would have led a reader, especially the target readers, to believe this was the case?


1 Answer 1


In terms of explicit confirmation, the answer is a very solid no. At no point did any character, nor the omniscient narrator, identify Dumbledore's sexuality in simple terms.

Signs and portents.

Various writers have identified incidents and passages that might act as subtle indicators toward his sexuality. Note that all of these were spotted post-facto and some require a very ungenerous interpretation.

  • Dumbledore's love of knitting patterns, a typically feminine pre-occupation.

    ‘No, I was merely reading the Muggle magazines,’ said Dumbledore. ‘I do love knitting patterns. Well, Harry, we have trespassed upon Horace’s hospitality quite long enough; I think it is time for us to leave.’

    Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince

  • Dumbledore's lack of a female love interest

  • Dumbledore's extravagant dress-sense

    This younger Albus Dumbledore’s long hair and beard were auburn. Having reached their side of the street, he strode off along the pavement, drawing many curious glances due to the flamboyantly cut suit of plum velvet that he was wearing.

    Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince

  • Rita Skeeter's description of his relationship with Grindelwald (who we now learn was his lover). I've highlighted the smutty parts.

    ‘Oh, now, I’m glad you mentioned Grindelwald,’ says Skeeter, with a tantalising smile. ‘I’m afraid those who go dewy-eyed over Dumbledore’s spectacular victory must brace themselves for a bombshell – or perhaps a Dungbomb. Very dirty business indeed. All I’ll say is, don’t be so sure that there really was the spectacular duel of legend. After they’ve read my book, people may be forced to conclude that Grindelwald simply conjured a white handkerchief from the end of his wand and came quietly!’

    Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

  • Rita Skeeter's description of his relationship with Harry Potter. I've highlighted the parts that suggest that he's a sexual deviant

    ‘Oh yes,’ says Skeeter, nodding briskly, ‘I devote an entire chapter to the whole Potter–Dumbledore relationship. It’s been called unhealthy, even sinister. Again, your readers will have to buy my book for the whole story, but there is no question that Dumbledore took an unnatural interest in Potter from the word go. Whether that was really in the boy’s best interests – well, we’ll see. It’s certainly an open secret that Potter has had a most troubled adolescence.’

    Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

  • Aberforth's description of Dumbledore's relationship with Grindlewald

    ‘But after a few weeks of it, I’d had enough, I had. It was nearly time for me to go back to Hogwarts, so I told ’em, both of ’em, face to face, like I am to you, now,’ and Aberforth looked down at Harry, and it took little imagination to see him as a teenager, wiry and angry, confronting his elder brother. ‘I told him, you’d better give it up, now. You can’t move her, she’s in no fit state, you can’t take her with you, wherever it is you’re planning to go, when you’re making your clever speeches, trying to whip yourselves up a following. He didn’t like that,’ said Aberforth, and his eyes were briefly occluded by the firelight on the lenses of his glasses: they shone white and blind again. ‘Grindelwald didn’t like that at all. He got angry. He told me what a stupid little boy I was, trying to stand in the way of him and my brilliant brother … didn’t I understand, my poor sister wouldn’t have to be hidden once they’d changed the world, and led the wizards out of hiding, and taught the Muggles their place?

    Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

  • Dumbledore's own description of Grindelwald

    ‘Grindelwald. You cannot imagine how his ideas caught me, Harry, inflamed me. Muggles forced into subservience. We wizards triumphant. Grindelwald and I, the glorious young leaders of the revolution.

    ‘Oh, I had a few scruples. I assuaged my conscience with empty words. It would all be for the greater good, and any harm done would be repaid a hundredfold in benefits for wizards. Did I know, in my heart of hearts, what Gellert Grindelwald was? I think I did, but I closed my eyes. If the plans we were making came to fruition, all my dreams would come true.

    Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

  • And of course, as the LA Times has stated, his name is a dead giveaway

    "While the anagram to 'Tom Marvolo Riddle' is 'I am Lord Voldemort,' as my good friend pointed out, 'Albus Dumbledore' becomes 'Male bods rule, bud!'"

    Seven clues that 'Potter's' Dumbledore was gay

  • 6
    Awesome answer usual. Many of those really stretch for the double meaning though. The last item I think clearly the most telling!
    – Skooba
    Mar 3, 2017 at 18:12
  • 13
    @Skooba - I do agree. The large problem with trying to read any sexual motivation into Dumbledore's character is that I'm reasonably confident that she didn't decide to make him gay until after she'd finished the books, whatever her protestations to the contrary. It's the same as her declaring that Hermione's race was never stated in the books (albeit in that case, she seemed to have forgotten that she did state it, repeatedly).
    – Valorum
    Mar 3, 2017 at 18:59
  • 10
    "She wants credit for being very up-to-date and politically correct -- but she didn't have the guts to put that supposed "fact" into the actual novels, knowing that it might hurt sales. ... When I have a gay character in my fiction, I say so right in the book. I don't wait until after it has had all its initial sales to mention it." - Orson Scott Card
    – Skooba
    Mar 3, 2017 at 19:14
  • 7
    The premise of this answer is good, but most of the evidence is really grasping at straws.
    – Pharap
    Mar 4, 2017 at 1:41
  • 10
    @Pharap - I've tried to make the straw-clutchingness apparent in the answer. As I said above, the main problem is that in over a million words of text, JKR didn't see fit to mention his sexuality. That strongly suggests to me that he's been "gay retconned"
    – Valorum
    Mar 4, 2017 at 14:38

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