Harry Potter author JK Rowling has confirmed that she has always considered the beloved character Albus Dumbledore, head of the fictional Hogwarts wizard school, to be gay.

According to E! Online, Rowling made the announcement at Carnegie Hall in New York after taking questions from fans following her reading of extracts from Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.

A member of the audience asked if the character ever finds “true love,” to which Rowling responded, “Dumbledore is gay.” After a stunned silence it was reported that the audience erupted in applause.

In response, the author said that if she had known that the reaction would be so positive, she would have made the character’s “backstory” known earlier. She added with a laugh, “Oh, my god, the fan fiction.”

Rowling said that she “always thought Dumbledore was gay,” and that she had envisaged him being in love with another wizard mentioned in the books, Gellert Grindelwald, whom he ultimately had to kill. She described that love from his youth as Dumbledore’s “great tragedy.”

Rowling revealed that when reviewing the script for the movie adaptation of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, she crossed out dialogue about Dumbledore’s past loves added by the filmmakers, writing “Dumbledore is gay” on the pages.

JK Rowling is the wealthiest author in history, thanks to the astonishing success of her Harry Potter novels. At the reading, she described the books as a “prolonged argument for tolerance.” She commented that some Christian groups did not approve of the novels and that they’d now have another reason to continue to do so.

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