Is Dumbledore gay?
I've been hearing lately that J.K. Rowling has announced that Dumbledore is gay. I haven't tried to verify it or anything because for the purpose of what I want to talk about it, it doesn't matter whether she actually said that or not.
This raises an interesting philosophical question for me about the nature of fiction. Dumbledore doesn't really exist. He's just a fictional character in a story. So Dumbledore can't really be gay in real life. If he's gay at all, he can only be gay as part of the story.
But the problem is that the story itself doesn't stipulate that Dumbledore is gay. In the story of Harry Potter, there is complete silence on Dumbledore's sexuality.
One might argue that the story gets its meaning, not merely from the words, but from the intention of the author. In that case, you might say he's gay just because J.K. Rowling had decided all along that he was gay, even though she didn't say so in the story.
But does the intention of the author matter if she doesn't include information in the story? If so, then Rowling could start making all kind of crazy announcements about the characters in Harry Potter that are not included in the story, and we'd all be obliged to take her word for it. She could just up and decide that Filch killed his own mother and that nobody ever found out about it. She could decide that Hagrid joined a monastary for a while after being kicked out of Hogwarts.
Let's suppose for a moment that Rowling's intentions matter even if she doesn't write her intentions into the story. Does it matter when her intentions came about? Does it matter whether she intended all along for Dumbledore to be gay, whether she decided he was gay half way through writing the books, or if she decided he was gay after writing the books? What if she changed her mind tomorrow? Would Dumbledore then be straight just because she said so? Could she change her mind a dozen times between now and when she dies, and would the story change as a result?