The Crimes Of Grindelwald Actually Needed A Gay Scene

Photo: Courtesy of Jaap Buitendijk/Warner Bros.
If you follow her on Twitter, you know that J.K. Rowling prides herself on being a woke queen. She’s not perfect, but the brilliant mind behind the ever-expanding wizarding world has often tried to align herself with the principles of diversity and inclusion. This showed up in the Harry Potter book and film series, onstage for Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, and in the Fantastic Beasts movies. Since the beginning, witches and wizards have represented different races and ethnicities. Naturally, they fall on different spots on the sexual identity spectrum as well. The revelation that Professor Albus Dumbledore (played by Jude Law in the freshly released Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes Of Grindelwald) is actually gay has been celebrated since Rowling announced it in 2007. However, director David Yates burst all of our bubbles earlier this year when he said during an Entertainment Weekly interview that the sexuality of the beloved character wouldn’t be “explicitly” clear in the film.
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Having now seen The Crimes Of Grindelwald, I feel strongly that it should have been.
Despite this announcement, I still had high hopes for the queer romance between Dumbledore and his former lover Grindelwald (Johnny Depp). I know Law tried to warn us, but Issa Rae told me that Lawrence (Jay Ellis) wasn’t coming back to Insecure this season, and then BOOM, there he was. Angela Bassett teased that she would be one of the few American Horror Story alums not returning for Apocalypse, but earlier this week she showed up from the depths of hell still looking 32. So you can’t blame me for sitting through The Crimes of Grindelwald, distracted by Zoe Kravitz’s ravishing beauty, wiggling giddily in my seat at the first sight of Hogwarts, and anticipating a makeout session between Dumbledore and some attractive guy.
But that moment never comes. The closest we get to a gay scene is young Dumbledore (not Jude Law but Toby Regbo) and young Grindelwald (not Johnny Depp but Jamie Campbell Bower) holding hands. And it’s not romantic. They’ve just cut their hands, and they have to bring them together to complete a blood pact that keeps them from ever fighting against one another. That’s it.

Complex character development over time matters, but so does representation.

Speaking about his character in a separate interview for Entertainment Weekly, Law said, “as with humans, your sexuality doesn’t necessarily define you; [Dumbledore is] multifaceted.” That explanation honestly sounds like very nice copout. Obviously, humans are multidimensional and not limited to whom they choose to love or sleep with. But in The Crimes of Grindelwald, Dumbledore could have used some more depth. In his youth, he looked great in the colour gray; he was an engaging and respected professor; and he had an affinity for speaking in clues — traits that would follow him to his death over a century later. We know that he and Grindelwald were once so close that they made their relationship blood oath-official. But there was very little context to clarify whether or not this was a declaration of their commitment to each other as lovers or friends. Had the former been true, and Dumbledore was being faced with an ex that never goes away, The Crimes Of Grindelwald would have had more to offer.
Law left fans with the glimmer of hope that there was more in store later in this specific franchise. “You’re just getting to know Albus in this film, and there’s obviously a lot more to come. We learn a little about [Dumbledore’s] past in the beginning of this film, and characters and their relationships will unfold naturally, which I’m excited to reveal. But we’re not going to reveal everything all at once."
Complex character development over time matters, but so does representation. Giving marginalised groups the chance to see themselves and their identities represented on screen did not have to begin or end with Dumbledore. Just as there are a plethora of cultures represented in Fantastic Beasts, so, too, can there be more than one person who is not straight. My issues with Dumbledore aside, The Crimes of Grindelwald needed a gay scene because it’s the right thing to do.
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