Hello, all you wonderful witches and wizards. Some recent events have transpired that I took some time to process and want to share some thoughts on.
When I was twelve, I, like many other children my age, had heard about this book series about wizards and magical adventures and was intrigued. That very Christmas, I received the first three books as a box set from one of those Scholastic book fairs. I fell in love from the very first chapter and immediately immersed myself in it. I could see myself in the series, a boy of about the same age as Harry as we both grew up at about the same rate, and the stories became darker and more intense. I read the books time and time again, feeling comfortable in the world of Hogwarts and wishing that I could go to this magical place where I could feel safe, despite the near constant peril that Harry always found himself in. I will always be grateful to J.K. Rowling for fostering that love of literature in me and for sharing that world with millions of people worldwide.
But as I grew up, things began to change. I realized that I wasn't as much like Harry as twelve year old me had hoped for one looming, obvious fact that I couldn't shake: I was gay. The connection that I felt to him as a teen was gone.
Reading these stories back as a gay adult, I can actually look past some of the glamour that the words had cast upon a younger me. As much as I still love the stories, there are issues that I never noticed as a child: the absolute lack of any LGBT+ characters whatsoever was what mainly bothered me. Not once was anyone explicitly or even subversively hinted at as being gay in the entire series. We saw hints of Dean Thomas and Seamus Finnigan as an item in the movie, but even that might have just been a Tumblr fantasy. It took YEARS for J.K. to come out and say that Dumbledore played for the other team. But even as shocking and controversial as that proclamation was at the time, it didn't feel authentic. There was no supporting evidence within the entire book series for this claim; all the Dumbledore and Grindelwald romance was either buried in vague biographical text in the books or overtly shoved in our faces in the Fantastic Beast franchise. It felt cheap, honestly. It felt like the creator was screaming, "SEE, GUYS? WE LOVE THE GAYS TOO! GIVE US MONEY, PLEASE".
Recently, J.K. Rowling went off on a TERF (Trans Exclusive Radical Feminist) tirade that honestly broke my heart. Evidence had been building in the previous months that she was hinting at her bigoted views without overtly saying it, and I hoped with all my heart that this was all a misunderstanding. But when she finally just came out and said it, my heart broke. The entire world that she had created - that I myself had found safety and comfort in - that inspired millions of people to create, had suddenly become a hostile place to a good number of us. How could a magical world, where people can change appearance and magically change themselves to be whatever they wanted to be, in turn be so unwelcoming of transgendered people, many of whom (which is to say all of whom) can't just wave a wand and chant a few words to make their outsides match their insides?
"If sex isn’t real, there’s no same-sex attraction. If sex isn’t real, the lived reality of women globally is erased. I know and love trans people, but erasing the concept of sex removes the ability of many to meaningfully discuss their lives. It isn’t hate to speak the truth."
I will admit my privilege. I am not one of the people that J.K. actively discriminated against in her tweets, so for a moment I thought about how I could still love the subject matter even if I didn't agree with the artist. However, I have also lost all respect for her and her views. To erase an entire group of people's identity is absolutely abhorrent, and for her of all people to speak about same-sex attraction is laughable. It is because of this that I am trying to distance myself from the Harry Potter series.
Thankfully, many of the actors have spoken out against J.K.'s views and actively shame her for them. I appreciate this, because this is what being a true ally is about.
I will also admit that most of my work was directly inspired from the Harry Potter series. I first started making wands as a prop for Renaissance Faires and Harry Potter themed parties and the feedback and joy I received from crafting them lead me to creating them with much more fervor and process. In the early days, I even wax stamped the identifier tags with the wand's intended Hogwarts house colors to connect myself and my product to that magical world. I am working now to be a better ally myself by distancing my work and my product from the franchise as a whole.
It can be difficult to view the art separate of the artist. H.P. Lovecraft was notoriously racist, but people still love and revere the works of the Elder Mythos. Bill Cosby is best remembered as a comedic icon, however he's also a sexual predator. J.K. has horribly bigoted views and her actions may even taint some of the cherished memories that people have from their childhood. However, through those tainted memories the magical world of Hogwarts and Harry Potter is not just her world anymore- it belongs to all of us.. We have sculpted and created our own view of this world, given it life and fullness. My own work is very much included in this - it may have started as an homage to this world, but it has evolved into something different.
Do not think of this as the death of Harry Potter. It is not an end, but rather a new beginning of a new age for the fandom because now independent artists have an opportunity to shine and have their work recognized without putting more money into the pockets of a TERF.