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Character vs Inspiration: Hedge & Grassie, Astrid

Character vs Inspiration: Hedge & Grassie, Astrid published on 13 Comments on Character vs Inspiration: Hedge & Grassie, Astrid

Another bit about Leif & Thorn characters, this time inspired by real people.

…There’s a clear advantage to using old-timey inspirations. For George and Gracie in particular, their almost-100-year-old work is surprisingly progressive, and because of the age you can forgive it when it isn’t. And you don’t have to worry about the stars suddenly embracing new terrible ideas, because, well.

Grassie: Aw, Hedge! So that’s sort of what you would look like if you were a fellow! . . . And also old! Very, very old!

Gracie: But George, if both of them in the couple are ladies . . . how can they do a comedy act without a straight man?

Astrid Rødlund: I was supposed to be a flawed-but-overall-charming character. The hazards of doing homages to still-living people . . .

JKR: What?? I just don’t want to call anyone “she” if they don’t have periods! Unless she’s a child. Or post-menopausal. Or has it stopped by medication. Or a health issue. Or Polyjuice Potion. Or . . . The point is, I’m Supporting Lesbians! So don’t question me! Especially not questions like “why didn’t your bestselling books ever include any lesbians.”

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On one hand, there are not THAT many characters in Potter we know the sexuality of. On the other, it’s bunch of quite heavy books ; you can say it wouldn’t fit in the movie but there would definitely be space in books.

Wait. Looking on Internet, Albus Dumbledore is supposed to be canonically gay. Although that may not be visible in books themselves …

Yeah, Dumbledore is gay according to JKR, though it’s only ever subtext in the books. He’s the only canon gay character, as far as I’m aware. Meanwhile, there are quite a lot of straight pairings. Especially if you read the supplemental stuff JKR has written — it starts seeming almost like she feels a compulsion to pair off every single character, no matter how minor, into neat little heterosexual marriages.

Also, I read an article once pointing out that Dumbledore is pretty much the only character in the series for whom love was a corrupting force, rather than a source of strength and redemption. Ever since then, I can’t unsee the fact that the only canonically gay character’s only romance was such a terrible thing that, afterward, he gave up on love entirely… pretty unfortunate.

“…it’s only ever subtext in the books.”

It really isn’t.

But it is. Nowhere in the books does it explicitly say that Dumbledore was in love with Grindelwald. It’s only ever implied. Many people read the books and came away with the conclusion that Dumbledore and Grindelwald were simply close friends, and it didn’t even occur to them that the relationship might have been romantic (until JKR explicitly said so in an interview).

In the eyes of a lot of people, if all you have to confirm a character’s sexuality is Word of God, then that character may as well not be that sexulaity. It’s a kind of odd sentiment in my eyes- you shouldn’t have to show a character smooching a dude to be able to say that Yes, They Are Gay- but in a world where most people assume straight until evidence emerges to the contrary, it’s understandable that people want to be able to see evidence that Yes, this character is in fact Not Straight.

Though with Dumbles, I recall this was a bigger deal than “they don’t really allude to it in the books” because when the Fantastic Beasts movies came out and he was in them with his apparent crush Grindelwald, there were complaints that this was the perfect time to show that Yes, He’s Gay, and then they never really did. At least that’s what I heard, I didn’t see the movie(s?) he was in.

It basically boiled down to a take on Steamed Hams, now that I’m thinking about it.
Fandom: Good god, why doesn’t that old man mention any relationships?
JKR: Uuhh, he’s Gay?
Fandom: He’s Gay? In this book series, and this movie series, with no evidence in them to back that up?
JKR: Well, yes.
Fandom: Can we see it in this upcoming movie?
JKR: …no.

Dumbledore’s not in the first movie. In the second, there are a lot of allusions to him and Grindlewald having been close, close enough to gift jewellery, even, (which means Dumbledore is still trying to re-establish trust from the powers-that-be) but they dance around and avoid saying anything stronger than “Friend”.

Even in the HP movies, there are plenty of established canon m/f relationships. And you can canonize an m/m or f/f couple with as little as a one-line reference — have McGonagall grumble about what her wife would think of something; have one of the kids get an owl from their two dads; have some of the short-lived teen relationships in books 4+ be between two boys or two girls; have one of the Somber Backstory Reveals officially say “alas for Dumbledore, the love of his life, Grindlewald, betrayed him.”

You can also put in trans people very quickly in low-key ways. Change the name of one of the random background students midway through the series, and the first time their new name is mentioned, be like “Andrea Goldberg — who had been Anthony the year before, a switch Harry assumed was yet another strange Wizarding thing, until Hermione told him it was actually yet another thing the Dursleys wouldn’t acknowledge happened to Muggles — raised her hand.” (In the movies, just making a point of casting trans actors would be huge.)

…and honestly, I do understand why a writer of kids’ books in the ’90s would’ve avoided putting any of that in canon! But she’s still adding to the universe today, both in Lore Expansion Packs and in new movies/plays. So at this point, the fact that she still hasn’t added any LGBT content besides “Dumbledore is gay offscreen” isn’t just A Product Of The Times anymore.

I hadn’t heard that bit with JKR before about lesbians and the whole ‘she’ thing so I was scratching my head challenging myself to figure out who it was
I did.
The only person I could think of that looked similar and had similar viewpoints was JKR so p spot-on! I’m not the best at recognizing real people (making me think I might actually have face blindness, which I wasn’t aware of before reading this so thank you!) but you were able to portray her well enough that I could! Good job 😀
Side note: I’ve death-to-the-author’d JKR a long time ago, back when she first started getting problematic, so at this point it’s just adding logs to that, to keep it burning.

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