At Carnegie Hall in 2007, J.K. Rowling revealed to a spellbound audience that Dumbledore was gay. The eccentric headmaster, next to Gandalf and the Wicked Witch of the West, is one of the most famous magical folk to grace the pages of literature.
So, if our most beloved “nitwit, blubber, oddment, tweak”-ing character happens to be a rainbow flag waving homosexual, do we still need queer representation in literature today?
We were once bound to the realm of slash fiction, where queerness was limited to the impromptu coupling of much loved characters – from the memorable pairing of Drarry (Draco and Harry, Harry Potter) to the newer Stormpilot (Poe and Finn, Star Wars).
Though these pairings are still well and truly shipped by die-hard fans (myself included – #Stormpilot5eva), queer representation has slowly moved into the borderline mainstream with shows like Glee and Orange Is the New Black, and recent movies like Pride, which tells the true-to-life story about a bunch of gays and lesbians supporting the Welsh mining community during the 1980s. Even Netflix has a ‘gay and lesbian’ category and it seems as though all characters are out of the closet, loud and proud.
Even with Drarry and Stormpilot, there are still challenges with the portrayal of the LGBTQI community in literature. Stereotypical images of the ‘queer’ flood our screens, whilst many parts of the LGBTQI community still struggle to find representation. Transgender and gender diverse individuals, queer people of colour and bisexual characters are still trying to claim a foothold, without being regulated to the character who will die in the next chapter.
Same Same But Different was born from this discussion and will be held this year, as part of the Auckland Pride Festival, at AUT. Talking Queer, Writing Queer, Seeing Queer will be discussing these very same issues – and maybe, finally, we’ll get an answer to the age-old question: If Dumbledore (Harry Potter), Captain Jack Harkness (Torchwood), Kurt Hummel (Glee), Cosima (Orphan Black), Titus Andromedon (The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt), Sophia Burset and Poussey (Orange Is the New Black), Patrick (The Perks of being a Wallflower) and so many more are out of the metaphorical closet – why is queer representation still so important?
I’m not sure I know the answer, unless it’s ‘can we really have too many queeroes telling their stories?’, but I’ll be heading along to hear from prominent authors, poets and screenwriters from the rainbow community to find out more from those who are committed to encouraging the continued diversity of characters on page and screen.
Same Same But Different is a queer literary festival being hosted at AUT from 17-18 February with both New Zealand and International guests. Join #AUTproud and continue the discussion with us.
Laura Williams is an AUT Communications graduate and Rainbow community advocate
Last updated: 28-Feb-2017 10.59am
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