Seeing as All Hallows Eve weekend arrived, and my head is sufficiently throbbing, I thought I would leave you with some observations: As always, there’s a 40-minute line to eat at the goddamn Bagel Cafe. I’ve seen, met and hit on 18 different Dorothy’s in the past 24 hours. Surprisingly, no one has asked me for directions to “the DP” yet. Oh, and Albus Dumbledore is gay.
Wait, What? Dumbledore? As in Harry Potter Dumbledore? It can’t be. But, oh, it is. According to author J.K. Rowling, everyone’s favorite fictitious old wizard is indeed gay. Speaking to a crowd of 2,000 fans at Carnegie Hall, Rowling candidly outed the Hogwarts Head Master. Whether or not this is surprising news, I’m not sure. Anyone who read the books knows that Dumbledore never had much interaction with women. Though, I always assumed his lack of mojo was due to his constant struggles to battle evil.
Regardless, many in the gay community have welcomed the news. Gay human rights campaigner Peter Tatchell was impressed with Rowling’s literary outing and said: “It’s good that children’s literature includes the reality of gay people, since we exist in every society.” While I find it a bit odd that Rowling refrained from outing him in the novel itself, I still respect the boldness of her move. By having the most loved character of the book be gay, Rowling is obviously trying to drive home the message that you don’t have to be straight to be a great, talented person. If her decision helps take a few ignorant homophobes off the streets, then kudos to her. If not, it’s at least bound to piss off many fundamental Christians, who already think the Harry Potter series is preaching witchcraft. And who doesn’t like seeing an angry fundamentalist?
But what this story really got me thinking about was another fictitious character: Tinky Winky. This purple, “magic bag” carrying Teletubby made headlines back in 1999 when the evangelist, Jerry Falwell, warned parents to watch out for the sinister cartoon character. Falwell was convinced Tinky Winky was gay, saying at the time: “He is purple, the gay pride color, and his antenna is shaped like a triangle, the gay pride symbol.” Then, just this past year, the Polish government led an investigation to see if the show was promoting homosexuality. You couldn’t write this stuff it’s so bizarre.
Seeing as I was just hitting my teens back in 1999, I obviously found the idea of a gay cartoon character hilarious. I vividly remember talking with friends about Tinky Winky’s “magic bag,” which is really a purse, and how ridiculous the whole ordeal was. Besides the obvious fact that someone had to be on acid to create this show, I never understood why anyone gave a crap whether or not he was gay. It’s a show about colorful alien creatures that live in an underground dome, frolic with talking flowers and laugh gleefully for no apparent reason. It doesn’t take rocket science to understand there were drugs involved in the creative process. Not surprisingly, while Teletubbies may have been aimed at children one to four years old, it was also an enormous hit with university students. I leave you to draw the connection there.
As easy as it would be to fill this column with endless praise for the show, I do have a point to make here. Why is it that a goofy, purple cartoon character is subjected to formal investigations and media scrutiny because he might be gay, while a wizard known to hundreds of millions of children around the world is loved by everyone? Tinky Winky is portrayed as a toddler, sure, but he doesn’t make sexual advances to the other Teletubbies. He prefers to eat Tubby toast, and talk to flowers. I just don’t get it. What’s not to like about him?
It will be interesting to see if now that Dumbledore is out of the closet, children’s novels of the future will include gay characters from the get-go. Bill O’Reilly would sure love it. He’d probably equate it to the apocalypse and dedicate a whole week to the evils of homosexuality on youth. I’d much rather go watch “Go! Exercise with the Teletubbies,” – the straight to video workout tape, and get ripped.