Someone Tell JK Rowling to Stop

The weird ‘facts’ JK Rowling has shared has turned into a fairly hilarious meme describing all of the ‘new information’ JK Rowling has bestowed about Harry Potter characters as well as other fandoms. It’s inception has come from the Harry Potter author divulging various tidbits on Twitter and it interviews about characters and plot points that really don’t have anything to do with the story. The intention to expand the Harry Potter universe is interesting in of itself, but telling us that a character is actually part of a minority way after the fact is hollow and irritating.Unfortunately, the stuff that JK Rowling comes up somehow outshines the creativity of Twitter with it’s sheer ridiculousness.


The latest revelation that she decided to share was that Dumbledore and Grindelwald had an ‘intense sexual relationship’.


First of all, no one was asking about that, and no one wanted it. Seriously there was never any time during the books or movies where I sat there wondering about any of the characters’ sex life. It’s not important to the story and at this point doesn’t give us any value at all. This revelation is nowhere as strange as the ‘wizards used to shit themselves before muggles invented toilets’ factoid, but the weird faux-representation she is trying to bestow is hurtful, annoying, and frankly pointless.


Full disclosure, I started reading the Harry Potter books when I was 11, rereading them all multiple times. The book series has it flaws, but I still love it with all of my heart. But as the years have passed the more and more JKR has tried to shove weird ‘inclusive’ things into the series, it’s taking away any joy I used to feel about these books.


People were obviously disappointed that a gay character (which wasn’t revealed in the books at all) would be in a movie with his love interested and there would absolutely zero queer context. It feels like someone dangling representation in front of faces only chastised when we want concrete examples of queer characters in the Harry Potter universe. It seems like she’s trying to be inclusive in ways that are safe to her and the franchising bottom line. JK Rowling and Harry Potter wouldn’t suffer greatly if there was actual canonical representation in Fantastic Beasts, but it probably would have hurt if she explicitly stated Dumbledore’s sexual orientation in the books.


This does NOT mean, however, talking about how two male characters used to bone a lot. It still leaves the representation at zero and overly sexualizes characters that are in books made for children and young adults. I’m not saying there shouldn’t be any of that in kids books, but it’s not what we’re asking for and it feels extremely strange to be given that over a decade since the last book was released. Saying Dumbledore and Grindelwald have sex is supposed to make me feel better about there being no out queer characters canonically? What does this solve exactly? Am I supposed to be satiated by this?


It would have been brave of her to include an openly gay character in a popular book series that debuted in 1997. But now it all just feels like I’m reading really bad fanfiction. I’ve read better fanfiction that includes more tasteful and concrete representation. Now I’m left questioning why no one in her circle is telling her to stop tweeting these empty platitudes. I’m wondering why her or anyone else feels like this is a solution to the lack of diverse representation in the books and the movies.


I’m not going to lie, the JK Rowling memes have been more creative than and interesting than Rowling’s revelations. But I would trade them all for actually queer representation in the Harry Potter universe. Queer wizards want to be seen too.

The Geeks OUT Podcast: Avengers – A Hair in Time

The Geeks OUT Podcast

Opinions, reviews, incisive discussions of queer geek ideas in pop culture, and the particularly cutting brand of shade that you can only get from a couple of queer geeks all in highly digestible weekly doses.

In this week’s marvelously extended episode of the Geeks OUT Podcast, Kevin is joined by Jason Conover, as they discuss Black Widow’s hair journey in the latest Avengers: Endgame trailer, marvel at Disney’s decision to bring James Gunn back, and question JK Rowling’s decision to continue to gay-bait Harry Potter fans in This Week in Queer.

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BIG OPENING

KEVIN: James Gunn returns to Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 3
JASON: New international trailer for Shazam!

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DOWN AND NERDY

KEVIN: The Passage, Apocalypse Now, Uncanny X-Men: Winter’s End
JASON: Captain Marvel, Umbrella Academy, Thor, Mister Miracle

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STRONG FEMALE CHARACTER

New trailer for Tuca & Bertie

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THIS WEEK IN QUEER

JK Rowling continues to gay-bait Harry Potter fans

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CLIP OF THE WEEK

New trailer for Avengers: Endgame

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THE WEEK IN GEEK

MOVIES

Ezra Miller & Grant Morrison working on Flash script
• Teaser for Alien 40th Anniversary shorts
• New trailer for Batman vs. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
• Sony teases 7 or 8 years worth of Spider-Man properties
New trailer for Disney’s live action remake of Aladdin
Disney will officially “acquire” Fox this week
Namor teased by Doctor Strange 2 director
Shang-Chi gets Asian writer & director

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TV

• Netflix cancels One Day at a Time
• Starz renews American Gods for season 3
• Esai Morales joins season 2 of Titans
DC Universe offering free previews of shows
Supergirl teases a new romance between Alex & Jimmy’s sister
• Taika Waititi joins Time Bandits tv series
Marvel’s What If? coming to Disney+

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COMIC BOOKS

Marvel & DC introducing new Asian heroes
• New Kickstarter for queer focused graphic novel Masked Prejudice

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SHILF

• KEVIN: Luthor
• JASON: Klaus

Make it Queer, You Cowards

 Queer-baiting has become the lazy writer’s way of incorporating queer characters without doing the work of actually representing the queer community. It’s enough to drag queer viewers and readers along, hoping that someday these characters might actually announce their queerness to the audience, and allow us to see ourselves in these narratives. It’s an exploitative strategy that usually mocks queer culture (intentionally or not) and undermines progress in genuine representation. Because it’s “not really queer,” it avoids potential l backlash from the mainstream who might deem queer content somehow inappropriate.

Will someone please think of the children?

I don’t have to tell you that queer characters are few and far between in the mainstream media. According to GLAAD, in the 2017–2018 TV season, there were 901 main characters on broadcast scripted primetime programming, and 58 (6.4 percent) were identified as gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender and/or queer. So it makes sense that we cling to a character or a show that hints at the idea of a queer character and story arc. And writers take full advantage of it. There are several ways that authors, writers, and showrunners bait us for our queer cash.

Sometimes show creators use their queer base to promote the show, and then act confused when there’s backlash against killing a queer character. The 100 featured Lexa, an openly queer character, and queer audiences rejoiced (and promoted the show on social media). These efforts helped make the show popular enough to be renewed. The show’s social media, including the writer Jason Rothenburg’s Twitter, touted how progressive the show was, which fueled queer viewership. Until they killed Lexa almost immediately after she got together with the also-female Clarke Griffin. Audiences felt used, and for good reason. It’s always terrible when a queer character is killed, but it felt especially frustrating on a show that used queer people to essentially do their marketing for free.

It’s hard to talk about queer baiting without mentioning the BBC’s Sherlock. Steven Moffat’s creation is full of “will they, won’t they” moments. In an interview published in 2011, Moffat explicitly says the series is “…most certainly a love story.” Watson asks about Sherlock’s sexuality in the first episode, and it goes downhill from there. Every episode is filled with intense staring and palpable tension. Nonetheless, actors and showrunners alike have denied that there is anything about the series or that would indicate that Sherlock or Watson are gay. When asked about the Johnlock ship, Martin poetically states that “Me and Ben, we have literally never, never played a moment like lovers. We ain’t fing lovers.”

This isn’t just about appeasing Tumblr fangirls. Thousands of queer fans have seen the queerness of this series. It’s beyond frustrating that hinting at queer characters is cute and funny until queer viewers start to take the baiting seriously. Moffat had no problem dragging queer fans along, but now wrings his hands at the passionate response of the fandom. It gets to the point that even if they didn’t intend on queer baiting (they did), their interaction with queer fans makes it crystal clear that they have no problem with making the show as gay as possible, and then scoff at any questioning of its queerness.

Another way creators like to queer-bait is to make characters gay after the fact, without treating any hint within the canonical seriously. This way, queer fans can write endless amounts of fanfiction, but the creators themselves are safe from any scrutiny. J.K. Rowling is probably the most notorious offender here. Nothing in the Harry Potter book series gives any indication of any kind of queerness. But after the last book was published, Rowling revealed that Dumbledore is in fact gay. That’s all well and good, but it in no way makes the series inclusive. Fast forward to the Fantastic Beast series, and fans are still getting baited. In these movies, we see young Dumbledore, so it would make sense to have some indication of his sexuality and crush on Grindlewald. But we’ve been told by director David Yates that [there won’t be any overt reference to Dumbledore’s sexuality in the second installment. Nothing says “denial of queer inclusion” like having a character’s canonical queerness completely erased from the narrative, especially when it was barely there in the first place.

And while we’re on the subject of Harry Potter, let’s talk about The Cursed Child. It’s hard not to see the parallels between this and the lack of gay context for Dumbledore. When reading the play, it’s not a large stretch to read Albus and Scorpius’s friendship with a queer inflection. They even compare their relationship to Lily Potter and Severus Snape. LGBTQ campaigner James Ortiz told the Guardian:

“It’s queer-baiting because they knew exactly who they were reeling in and why, but still decided to leave out the main attraction for all the fans they hooked, choosing instead, like so many others, to set up the gay romance, hint at it constantly, make it believable and deep and perfect, and then force it out of the story.”

It’s one thing to not have a character’s sexuality explicitly defined. It’s another thing to know that queer fans are desperate for any glimmer of representation, and use that desperation to manipulate them into increasing your sales. If authors and showrunners have no intention on making their characters queer, they should turn the car around and go write cis het characters only. These queer-bait characters are not real representation, and can be more harmful that not including any queer representation at all.

The more we take charge of our own narratives, the more we get to set the standards. Here’s some advice: If you are a cis het creator and you’re going to include queer subtext in your work, make it queer, you cowards. And if you do manage to include us, make sure these stories are as rich and diverse as the community itself. Also, don’t kill us off for lazy shocker plot lines. Instead of lifting us up as a community, you are pushing us down, making us feel like a joke for even asking for a little representation.