I have a terrible, deep, dark secret. I could send it in to Postsecret, but I may as well spill it here. I'm feeling confessional tonight.
Oh, this is difficult to type. I feel a sense of... shame. About five years ago, I heard of a controversial book series. Kids were gobbling it up, sales were incredible, and some vocal parents hated it. I'm a sucker for forbidden fruit, so I picked up the books--J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter series. Not so bad, you're thinking, eh? Oh, it gets worse. Keep reading.
They were pretty good books. Fun stuff, that magic. The idea of a magical world existing right alongside our own was interesting. I was curious to see what the fuss was, though, what others more sympathetic to the series had to say in its defense. Like a teen "just curious" to see what a cigarette is like, that was my first mistake. I got on the Internet (unsupervised! there was a computer in my bedroom and a door I could close) and searched. What I found was an addiction. There were whole fansites on the series, fan art, bulletin board discussions of finer plot points, and the heroin of HP fandom, fan fiction.
I... I got suckered in, I did. In my defense, I was young and naive. I was lonely. Back in those days, there was a strong sense of community. There were, of course, occasional flame wars and somewhat heated discussion, but overall, I interacted regularly, sometimes for hours a day, with a fun group of people who were anywhere between 13-year-old fangirls who thought Dan Radcliffe was hot to 20-something geeks to grown women with children of their own. We had something in common. Thanks to fandom, I started blogging--Deadjournal, then Livejournal. I posted a lot about HP then, what I thought of characters, the fandom itself, and even Rowling's shortcomings. Between the bulletin boards and blogs, I ended up discussing many a fine plot point, many a discussion of Rowling's depiction of Slytherins as flat characters, and even the craft of writing.
And in the meantime, I read fanfiction. There was plenty about the main trio, and then I branched out. Fandom speculation fleshed out a lot of info about lesser characters, and I read stories that depicted Voldemort's past in a more sympathetic light. I read stories about Harry's parents' generation (Sirius was and is one of my favorite characters in the series, followed by Remus). I was a Severus Snape fangirl, knew, just knew he was OK under his exterior; there were plenty of stories sharing my point of view. I also inhabited a sector of the fandom fascinated by the Malfoys (parents, anyway; Draco never fascinated me) and, yes, before they were popular, the Lestranges. I even... tried... OK, I did--I wrote fanfiction myself.
There. I said it. I wrote fanfiction. It was what would be classified as more genfic, that is, not very concerned with speculating on the couplings in the series. The pairings didn't really intrigue me; my tolerance for romance in fiction is low, but that placed me in what seemed to be a vast minority. Some of the fandom's most heated debates were on who was meant for whom and what the characters got up to behind the scenes (Harry/Hermione! no, Hermione/Ron! no, you're both wrong--Harry/Ron is my OTP!!!1!), whether said couplings were heterosexual or slashy pairings. Or... well, Rowling did make a passing reference to Aberforth Dumbledore getting in trouble for practicing "illegal charms on a goat"; I leave you to speculate what certain fans made of that. Anything suggestive of illicit behavior can probably be found in fanfiction, and with a predominantly heterosexual female fan base, this translated into a dearth of slash, or homoerotic fanfiction. Yep, Harry and Draco's apparent antagonism is truly rooted in sexual tension--whaddaya mean you missed that subtext? (I'm sure it had nothing to do with the fact that many a fangirl adored both Harry and Draco as depicted by Dan Radcliffe and Tom Felton, and well, the only thing hotter than two hot guys is two hot guys shagging each other.)
And maybe I just never looked for it, or maybe it wasn't the subject of great speculation, but apparently Dumbledore too was gay. I fell out of the fandom about the time the fifth book came out and have only read spoilers for the last few books, so I don't know what the trends in fanfiction have been. I'm guessing Dumbledore's sexuality didn't receive much speculation because, well, because he's old and therefore asexual because... he's old and the mental images--ugh. No. He's old. Just stop that.
I want to read the rest of the books now, see if there were signs. It seems a bit sloppy, quite frankly. Maybe there were more blatant signs in the later books (something about wands, perhaps, or Dumbledore inviting Harry to his chamber to practice his 'magic'...?), but the earlier books, from my four-year-old recollection, didn't contain those hints. Not, mind, that Dumbledore's sexuality is pivotal to the series. A character's sexuality shouldn't be, but I can imagine the firestorm that's erupting in the conservative religious camps right now. Not only is Harry Potter dabbling in magic, his mentor was, well, one of those, you know. What values will that teach children?
Er, yes, this blog shall return to its regularly scheduled format after this post. It just sorta sidetracked me. And I do try and break up the teaching posts a bit. Guess I'll just have to start posting more frequently to bump this one down into the archives. Good thing Nablopomo is coming up...