I'm having a disagreement with a friend, and I realize that I don't think either of us has anything to back up our interpretation.

We know from the books and from Rowling's interviews that

Dumbledore was gay and in love with Gellert Grindelwald

Was the love ever reciprocated (romantically, not platonically)? I always felt that it was unrequited and Gellert was heterosexual, but I'm not sure I can back that up with evidence.

(Feel free to adjust anything spoilery, including the title. I did my best!)

  • 19
    We actually only know from Rowling's interviews that Dumbledore is gay. She failed to provide even the remotest evidence for this in the books, and has been accused (and not just in this instance) of wanting credit for representations she didn't bother to write. I'll be very surprised if someone brings back textual evidence of the much more sparsely-described Grindelwald's homosexuality. Feb 20, 2018 at 20:06
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    I'd accept words from her interviews, and FWIW, I'm an adult gay man and very grateful for her words about Dumbledore's sexuality. She didn't make a big deal over Lee Jordan, Kingsley Shacklebolt or Cho Chang being racial minorities either--they just were. Feb 20, 2018 at 20:09
  • 3
    I think religion in Hogwarts was a cultural thing more than a religious one. Much like for a good chunk of America. Personally I'm of Jewish heritage and I celebrate Christmas... but you're not going to catch me in a temple or a church. Feb 20, 2018 at 20:34
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    W.r.t to Dumbledore, while I wish that Rowling had been willing to make things more explicit, it always seemed clear to me that Dumbledore's feelings for Grindelwald went well beyond mere friendship ("I do not complain, for if you had not been expelled, we would never have met," Grindelwald and Dumbledore exchanging letters at all hours of the night, Dumbledore's immediate infatuation, Dumbledore describing them as "Grindelwald and Dumbledore" so much, etc.) They definitely seemed like an item.
    – Adamant
    Feb 20, 2018 at 22:07
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    @Adamant I agree; had they been a boy and a girl, no one would have denied that there were romantic feelings despite it not being explicitly stated. Feb 20, 2018 at 22:10

2 Answers 2


He probably didn’t reciprocate Dumbledore’s feelings.

In another interview after saying Dumbledore was gay, JKR seems to state that Grindelwald didn't feel the same way, but would have likely used Dumbledore's feelings to manipulate him.

JKR: I think he was a user and a narcissist and I think someone like that would use it, would use the infatuation. I don't think that he would reciprocate in that way, although he would be as dazzled by Dumbledore as Dumbledore was by him, because he would see in Dumbledore, 'My God, I never knew there was someone as brilliant as me, as talented as me, as powerful as me. Together, we are unstoppable!' So I think he would take anything from Dumbledore to have him on his side.
- Harry, a History

If this interview does exist, then he would have found Dumbledore very interesting, but not reciprocated his romantic feelings.

However, his sexuality is unknown - he could have been anything.

Not reciprocating Dumbledore’s feelings doesn’t confirm that Grindelwald wasn’t gay. It just proves that he wasn’t into Dumbledore specifically. With the information we have, it’s not clear whether Grindelwald was gay, straight, or asexual and not interested in anyone (like the Dark Lord).

But, JKR now implies a mutual relation.

However, in the “Fantastic Beasts: Crimes of Grindelwald” DVD extras, JKR is now implying that Grindelwald and Dumbledore were in a more mutual relationship.

"Their relationship was incredibly intense, it was passionate — and it was a love relationship," the author said. "But as happens in any relationship, gay or straight or whatever label we want to put on it, one never knows really what the other person is feeling. You can't know. You can believe you know."

"So I'm less interested in the sexual side — though I believe there is a sexual dimension to this relationship — than I am in the sense of the emotions they felt for each other, which ultimately is the most fascinating thing about all human relationships."
- J.K. Rowling gave more insight into the 'passionate' relationship between Dumbledore and Grindelwald, and confirmed it had a 'sexual dimension' (Insider)

This is a clear change from her saying that she did not think that he would reciprocate in that way.

David Yates also implies this.

When David Yates was first asked about what the relationship between Dumbledore and Grindelwald will be in the upcoming Fantastic Beasts movie, he seemed to imply it was a more mutual feeling.

“Not explicitly,” Yates replied when asked if the film makes it clear that Dumbledore is gay. “But I think all the fans are aware of that. He had a very intense relationship with Grindelwald when they were young men. They fell in love with each other’s ideas, and ideology and each other.”
EW interview with David Yates

When asked again, he further stated that the Fantastic Beasts series is among other things, a story of two men who loved each other and ultimately have to fight.

"There are scenes in the movie where I was very conscious of wanting to try and suggest that Dumbledore still held this affection for Grindelwald," the director, David Yates, said in the extra. "There was not just regret but there was still a love that existed between the two men."

"This is a relationship that is compelling and profound and authentic," he continued, "and, alongside all the bells and whistles of adventure and fantasy and beasts and everything else, this is a story about these two men who loved each other. And, ultimately, have to fight each other. It's a story for the 21st Century."
- J.K. Rowling gave more insight into the 'passionate' relationship between Dumbledore and Grindelwald, and confirmed it had a 'sexual dimension' (Insider)

It’s not clear yet what will be shown in the movies, but Yates considers it more than a one-sided relationship.

Johnny Depp won’t explicitly say, but thinks he’s jealous of Newt.

Johnny Depp, the actor who plays Grindelwald, was asked in an interview what his personal take is on Grindelwald’s sexuality, and though he is a bit evasive, does say he thinks Grindelwald would be jealous of Newt since he’d see Newt as Dumbledore’s protégé.

There’s been lots of focus on Dumbledore’s sexuality and how much should be in the film, but very little speculating about Grindlewald. What’s your take on your character’s sexuality and how much of that is apparent in the portrayal?

I think it should be left up to the audience to feel it first, and when the time comes … It makes the situation with Dum­bledore all the more intense. I think there’s a jealousy with Scamander. He sees Scamander as Dumbledore’s protégé — his boy, in a way. That in itself is enough for Grindelwald to want to take Scamander down in a way that is ferocious and eternal.
- Johnny Depp breaks silence on Fantastic Beasts sequel role (Entertainment Weekly)

However, he doesn’t actually say what Grindelwald’s sexuality is, or if he was indeed attracted to Dumbledore in that way, though saying he was jealous does somewhat imply it, it’s not confirmed.

  • Yeah my real question was "were Dumbldedore and Grindelwald in a romantic relationship?" but I thought that was too spoilery for a question title. Nice answer! Feb 20, 2018 at 20:39
  • One possible interpretation of JKR's quote is that Gindelwald pretended to reciprocate Dumbledore's feelings. If so, it sounds like a rather unhealthy (perhaps even abusive) relationship. This would also be compatible with Yates's quote IMHO (especially if Grindelwald wasn't able to keep his feelings entirely separate from his act).
    – Kevin
    Feb 20, 2018 at 22:36

I always got the feeling that although Dumbledore was gay, Grindelwald was not and was instead just using Dumbledore as a platform to bounce his radical ideas off of. There is never any mention in the books of anything more than an intellectual connection between Grindelwald and Dumbledore.

  • 1
    Correct. Rowling confirmed that Dumbledore is gay and he sort of implies it to Harry in DH. But there was never any love interest between the two. And she might have said even that he was using him. It certainly makes sense as that's the type of thing people unfortunately do.
    – Pryftan
    Feb 21, 2018 at 0:42

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