It's not everyday that a fictional character can have parents across the United States up in arms.
Some parents are outraged, Christian groups are furious and the heavens above seem to be crashing down around all of us. No, I'm not talking about the arrival of the Antichrist or a Marilyn Manson concert - I'm actually referring to the Harry Potter franchise.
You see, author J.K. Rowling recently announced to a crowd of children at New York City's Carnegie Hall that one of the most beloved characters in the series, Hogwarts Headmaster Albus Dumbledore, was actually a homosexual. She explained that Dumbledore was actually in love with Gellert Grindelwald, a wizard that had been a close friend of Dumbledore's before finally turning evil and becoming one of Dumbledore's greatest enemies.
Most people reading this won't really understand what I've just written, but fans of the books should. Rowling said having Grindelwald become a dark wizard and ultimately having to die by Dumbledore's hand was the headmaster's "greatest tragedy."
Now, some parents and groups, as I've said, are understandably upset at the news. A gay male character in a children's book? What is this world coming to?
Honestly, I don't see the controversy in this. The Harry Potter franchise has had a long-running record of dealing with sociological issues with a fantastic and immersive storyline. As a fan of the books myself, I marveled at how Rowling could display issues of bigotry and prejudice with such ease.
Wizards and witches fighting with one another because they hold different beliefs on what is good and bad. Groups of wizards and witches who seek the extermination of "mudbloods" (only part witch or wizard) and "muggles" (regular, non-magic individuals) because they believe themselves to be superior. Does this sound familiar at all? It should to anyone who's ever taken a history course sometime in his or her lifetime.
Christian groups, of course, have jumped all over this since they've long held the belief that the Potter books promote witchcraft (which I find to be absolutely ridiculous). This isn't unexpected, though - most of these groups seem to stand by a phone waiting for something to protest.
What is unexpected is the level of attention this issue is garnering. News outlets, national and local, are talking about this piece of news, but strangely enough, not many of them are reporting that nowhere in the books does it specifically state that Dumbledore is gay.
However, Rowling is a writer and these are her characters. As strange as it sounds to say, she knows more about them than anyone could ever hope to learn. I'm sure this was not a spur of the moment announcement - this was something that's always been there, but seemed to be inconsequential enough for Rowling to have never mentioned it until now.
These individuals that have raised the moral alarm need to take a look around at how most gay people are represented in today's society - quirky ("Queer Eye for the Straight Guy" and Big Gay Al from "South Park"), lazy ("The Sarah Silverman Program") and loud ("Will and Grace"). In this instance, a gay character was not any of those things. He was presented as being a rock of moral support for Harry Potter throughout the series, up until the final book.
Dumbledore was wise, calm and one of the most beloved headmasters Hogwarts ever had (at least, that's what I garnered from reading the books). In real life, that character showed readers, young and old, that good could exist in the face of evil.
Does it really matter if he wasn't what many assumed him to be, but rather what Rowling intended him to be? I personally don't think so. I feel sorry for those of you who think otherwise. I really do.
Tim Olmeda is the news editor for the Nueces County Record Star. Readers may contact him via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org