Thursday, October 20, 2005

Harry Potter Gay Debacle

I don't know who to slap first or hardest--the author, G.P. Taylor for his hair-brained remark about Harry Potter being gay or the teachers who were embarrassed by his remarks. In an article from U.K., October 6, 2005, we learn that G.P. Taylor, author of Harry Potter-esque book, Shadowmancer, complained that the Harry Potter character was "the only gay in the village." Apparently this was an allusion to the "Little Britain" television show, a program I've never even heard mentioned until this article.

What bothers me about the whole thing is that: 1) Harry Potter isn't gay unless my gay radar has gone completely offline. I mean, there's been a significant undercurrent between him and Ginny Weasley since book one. The whole thing is fairly subtle in the first few books, but Rowling does give the reader clues. Maybe they were way too subtle for Taylor, but surely book six made it all perfectly clear that Harry likes girls, at least right now. If Harry wants to switch teams in the future, more power to him, but come on! This is no purple-garbed Tinky Winky we're talking about now. What part of Harry Potter screams gay to this guy? As much as I love Harry Potter, he's not gay, and I'm okay with that. I still have the Sponge Bob gang and the Telebubbies to see me through the morass of famous gay cultural icons. Lest you think I'm gay-bashing here, think again or better yet, check out my website at That ought to let you know which team counts me as a member.

2) The teachers' response to Taylor's remarks is rather, er, um, Victorian? Backward? Homophobic? I can't really figure out who is more homophobic--Taylor or the teachers who booted him out for saying Potter was gay. U.K. reports, "The teachers told the newspaper they feared his comments were too much for the 120 students listening. 'The remarks were thought by the staff to be offensive and were well below the standards we expect of responsible and thoughtful adults working in our school,' the school said in a statement."

After recovering from the shock of mentally picturing a school standing behind a podium making a statement, I have to wonder what was so offensive in Taylor's language that he was literally removed from the stage in the middle of his talk. I'd ask whatever happened to free speech and the first amendment, but this was jolly ol' England, so that may not apply exactly. But the question remains. Was it because of the gay remark, or was it because he used other words that may have been offensive to their stodgy ears? In a quote by the author, we find that his take on the situation is a little different. He says, "I have done this talk in many schools and I have been invited back many times. If the words 'fart' and 'bogey' are unacceptable, that's sad."

So was he yanked from the stage for saying fart and bogey or for saying that Harry was gay? The ridiculous thing is that in this day, why should any of these things be offensive? If the kids have read Harry Potter, then they have already been giggling for years over talk about "bogeys" and "farts" and what have you. If the kids pay attention at all in England, then they know, at the least, that their very own Elton John is gay. Do the teachers really think that their students don't know about bogeys, farts, or gay people?

There is nothing about this situation that doesn't seem ridiculous to me. They should have let the man finish his talk and then opened it up to discussion. If the teachers wanted to reem the guy afterwards for a) being homophobic, b) being clueless about Rowling's main character's sexual inclinations, c) using the words bogey and fart, or d) mentioning the gay subject at all, they could have done it afterwards in private. Or they could have done it publicly and made it a learning experience for the students as well.

I have to wonder what the kids thought about this mess. Did the gay kids run back and reread all the books trying to figure out if Harry really was one of them? Did the rest of them go back and try to figure out if they somehow misunderstood the meaning of the word gay? Did they think that all their teachers were hopeless prigs and fascist spoilsports? A conundrum indeed--who to slap first and hardest?