Excerpts from a recent Washington Post online reader chat with Melissa Anelli of the Leaky Cauldron Web site, which specializes in all things Harry Potter. After author J.K. Rowling surprised readers by announcing that the beloved wizard Albus Dumbledore was gay, Anelli discussed reactions and whether the revelation will change views of the books.




Q: What does it matter that J.K. Rowling says that Dumbledore is gay? The books have been published and it would seem that the opportunity to make that revelation relevant has passed. ... The whole thing smacks of a desperate attempt to keep HP in the news.




A: If there is one person in the world who understands how little Harry Potter needs to be kept in the news, it's J.K. Rowling. The idea that she's publicity-hounding or money-grubbing goes against everything we know about her. She has constantly stood up for the disenfranchised: the bullied, girls who feel down about themselves because of their weight, abused children in Czechoslovakia, and more. This is just another way she is showing her beliefs. She was asked a question, and she answered.




Q: I don't think this was prudent information to reveal because it doesn't show up or affect anything in the books, but the parents aren't going to know that. They're going to think they've been letting their children read something "bad."




A: The books haven't changed in the slightest. A lot of people say, "Why introduce sex into the books?" to which I say, there was already sex in the books. Not the actual sex act, of course, but plenty of pairing up, flirting, marriage, children, etc. If you thought the books were OK for your children to read beforehand you should feel fine with them reading them now &

no one's going into the epilogue and writing, "All was well. P.S., Dumbledore's gay!" Dumbledore is still the same role model he ever was.




Q: I'm wondering if you have any advice for parents who are trying to help their children cope with this newly discovered knowledge.




A: Please ask what their questions are about homosexuality, and how it's different from heterosexuality, and what it changes about a person. Please make them understand that a word like "faggot" is a terrible, hate-filled word as bad as using the "N-word" on a black person, and that being homosexual does not make you a child molester.




Ask them what they think and have a full discussion. ... Educate them on the issue; telling them to just accept it without questioning is as bad as teaching them to not.




Q: Have you picked up any truly negative reaction to the news?




A: My inbox is full of people who wish to let me know that I'm scum for supporting this "outing," that J.K. Rowling should go back to the devil who spawned her, etc. ... We're trying to simply ignore it. I succumbed to answering one e-mail, in which someone thought it wise to tell me that there was an 80 percent chance of catching AIDS from homosexual sex. That's a ridiculous statistic. AIDS doesn't appear between two gay people like rabbits out of hats. One partner must be infected for the other to get it. ... and it only spread so widely in the '80s and early '90s here because of the attitudes about unprotected sex and necessarily closeted attitude about homosexuality, and MANY other factors ... Anyway, yes, that's the kind of thing we've been getting.




Q: Coming from a very religious family, I find that my parents are angered at J.K. Rowling's outing of Dumbledore. ... What advice would you give to a child who is just fine with Dumbledore being gay, but has parents that believe otherwise?




A: I would advise you to do what I said to parents, in reverse: Talk to your parents. Ask them what their real issue is with it. Find documentation online ( is sure to have a ton of it) that talks about misconceptions and homosexuality and show them how some of their ideas might be a little skewed. Show them examples of popular and good people who also happen to be gay. Keep open and calm; getting angry and railing probably won't help anything. Understand your parents grew up in an era with different societal norms than yours, and have different prejudices because of it, and try to be tolerant of their beliefs, too.