By: Yanitta Iew
When some of us hear Hedwig’s Theme, we immediately switch to “nostalgia mode” where everything around us dissolves into sepia, and the air smells like old books, Bertie Bott’s Every Flavor Beans and scrolls of parchment. All the tiny trinkets, book pages and magic wands give us happy memories of staying up until 3 A.M., devouring the last few pages of Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix.
But since J.K. Rowling has been accused of being against transgenderism and racist towards her POC characters, every evocative thought comes to an abrupt pit stop, and it seems like all the magic is spoiled and morphed into the acrid stench of the Polyjuice Potion. “Nostalgia mode” is shut off, and we see the world as it is. We see Harry Potter as it is.
We are here to support the LGBTQ+ community and POC as there have been various accusations of her lack of inclusiveness in the fandom. The Harry Potter series was never “unproblematic” to begin with. But since this outbreak of dispute against J.K. Rowling’s insinuations of transphobia, Harry Potter fans who disagree with her tweets are having second thoughts about their feelings towards this series. Some will stop thinking about Harry Potter forever, while some just want to pretend that Harry Potter was written by no one because any other thought is just so heartbreaking.
But Harry Potter is not authorless.
To claim Harry Potter as authorless is only to show our need to only acknowledge or credit “perfect” people with no prejudices but instead with our definition of virtuous views. On the topic of one’s prejudices, there is no belief that everyone supports, and one’s beliefs will always contradict someone else’s. Every work of literature ever written has an author, and every author has their own set of beliefs and prejudices. And even if they deny it, nobody is utterly impartial.
Other authors that wrote literary works through the ages were also racist, homophobic, islamophobic, xenophobic, sexist, and so on. Shakespeare was one of those authors that had discriminatory prejudices, but we do not claim his work as authorless. Regarding the societal beliefs during his time period, he didn’t become the victim of as much dispute as J.K. Rowling. Some of us now regard J.K. Rowling with contempt because society has changed. The LGBTQ+ Community has grown, spread its message through social media and integrated themselves more into society than centuries ago.
But there are still people that snort in derision when trans women or men acknowledge themselves as who they really are. The internet dispute has comments on two sides: saying that Rowling is transphobic, or merely “inaccurate.” Some agree with her and some don’t.
If some of us are Harry Potter fans that disagree with J.K. Rowling’s innuendos, that still does not give us the right to disregard J.K. Rowling’s efforts on writing a multiverse of books beloved by children and adults all around the world, just because we have contradicting views.
But some of us feel guilty for having fanatic feelings for this book series, but aren’t ready to expunge this fandom from our lives because of how special the books are to us. There are people like us, and there is no need to feel guilty when calling ourselves “Potterheads”, “Gryffindors”, “Slytherins”, “Ravenclaws”, or “Hufflepuffs.” J.K. Rowling is not merely known as the author that wrote Harry Potter. It is not the only thing that defines her identity, and she is not the fandom herself. She is not “Harry Potter” and “Harry Potter” is not her. She is the woman who wrote Harry Potter. The books and the author are two different things.
And our love for Harry Potter only grew with our friends, family and our own imagination. The original works were written by J.K. Rowling, but the magic and its legacy grew from ourselves.
For those of us who cannot get enough of Hogwarts, there are ways where we can keep the Potterverse in our reach and support the Queer community, POC and Independent businesses.
First of all, Universal Studios and the Warner Bros gift shop are not the only places we can indulge ourselves with Harry Potter trinkets that remind us of the books and enable us to showcase our house pride. Hand-knitted scarves and beanies, jewelry, book sleeves, bookish candles, art prints, sweaters or cosmetics can be found in many different Independent Businesses on Etsy, Instagram and RedBubble.
Choose to support Queer Creators. They need our encouragement at the moment, and this is a mindless but fruitful way to spread kindness.
Furthermore, Fanfiction is being written every day, and there are hundreds of thousands of fanfics on platforms such as Wattpad or fanfiction.net. Read those fanfics that support the LGBTQ+ community. Write your own, and introduce Queer characters to the fandom. Make the fandom more inclusive yourself by adding characters that represent different sexualities and more POC.
Not only is Fanfiction a vital part of the fandom, but Fanart also plays a big part in Young Adult Literature at the moment. Draw your own fanart that represents the Queer and POC characters in the fandom. Support those businesses that increase the awareness of the LGBTQ+ community through their art.
There is a myriad of Queer & POC-run Harry Potter podcasts, fan accounts, artists, fic writers and Youtubers. Support and encourage them to do what they love.
Lastly, expand our tastes. Read books by Queer and POC authors and support them. Donate to charities, sign petitions and support causes like The Harry Potter Alliance. Make this a part of our daily lives.
And remember, the author and her book are two different things.
Yanitta is a high school freshman from Thailand who aims to spread her message through fiction. She is an aspiring writer and the founder of the Creative Writing club at her school and often writes stories that represent diverse cultures, identities and race. She is very passionate and ambitious when it comes to majoring in Creative Writing and inspiring people with her novels. When she's not writing, you can find her reading books from her perpetual bookshelf, playing the violin and researching random facts on the internet.