glitter_n_gore: (will graham)
[personal profile] glitter_n_gore
Greetings! We are in our second week of Pride Month and I’m talking about Remus Lupin--more specifically, the question of whether the character is bisexual.

Since Lupin is the only one of the werewolves on my list who is not explicitly confirmed in the text as bi, I took a poll. Here's what it looked like:

Screenshot of Twitter poll with question “Is Remus Lupin Bisexual?” and results
Yes = 63%
No = 13%
Not Sure = 13%
Whatever JK Says = 11%

I asked more informally on my regular blog as well. As you can see, results were mixed. More so than I had anticipated. This is why I wanted to start here. More often than not, LGBT fans do a lot of guesswork to figure out if there are any non-straight, non-cisgender people in the fictional universe we're being shown. Unless it's a world that's helmed by a writer/director/producer who's actively trying to create more diversity in that particular area, it’s down to the audience to interpret what we’re given.

If you are somehow reading this and not aware of the “Remus Lupin Is Bisexual” fan theories or haven’t read/watched the Harry Potter series at all, much of it comes from Lupin’s introduction in the third book, The Prisoner of Azkaban. There’s an undercurrent of Otherness to Lupin the moment we meet him. He’s poor and sickly, he has trouble holding a job, he’s secretive in ways that don’t make sense given his general attitude of kindness and empathy to pretty much everyone, and he is my favorite character in the series after Hermione Granger.

When we finally get the reveal that he’s a werewolf, he tells our heroes about being afraid of losing his friends if they knew what he was:

“Now, my three friends could hardly fail to notice that I disappeared once a month. I made up all sorts of stories. I told them my mother was ill, and I had to go home to see her. . . . I was terrified they would desert me the moment they found out what I was.”
---The Prisoner of Azkaban p. 354

I’m not saying you have to read subtext into it, but . . . you see why people could read him as queer, right? I can count on two hands the number of people I have been afraid to come out to, because I was sure I would lose their friendship if I did. And mostly, it does work out okay. I choose my friends carefully. But yeah, that is still a fear that I haven’t let go of, and you can’t predict people’s reactions. It is different every time. So Harry screaming, “I trusted you!” immediately after Hermione “outs” Lupin is chillingly close to home. Also the fact that Lupin being a werewolf has NOTHING whatsoever to do with whether he's been helping Sirius Black sneak into the castle, which he hasn't. There was no reason for her to reveal that except pure spite and prejudice. They come around eventually, but still.

There’s that, and there’s also this scene when he decides to leave his post at Hogwarts:

(Sorry the low quality on this clip, but it’s the only one I could find.) I actually like this scene better in the movie than in the book. The way he carefully avoids the word “werewolf” is telling, as is his anticipation of the “Think of the children!” complaints, despite being the most competent Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher they ever had. Lupin is one of the least morally ambiguous characters in the whole series. He’s just a decent guy with a lot of talent and resourcefulness who gets shafted because of other people being jerks.

Now, canonically, Lupin only has one confirmed romantic partner in the series: Nymphadora Tonks. A lot of fans, myself included, take the theory that Lupin was also in love with Sirius, whether unrequited or not, and there has been a LOT of meta both supporting and denying this. (See also: the always astute and fabulous Cleolinda Jones’s “Movies In Fifteen Minutes” entry: “Remus! This is not you! This is not your heart! I’LL MAKE OUT WITH YOU IF I HAVE TO!”) Although honestly, whether Remus/Sirius was a Thing or not doesn’t necessarily confirm or negate Lupin’s identity either way. For one thing, Rowling has gone on record to say that Dumbledore is gay, and the subtext there (all the stuff about Grindelwald in Rita Skeeter’s tell-all biography, and something about . . . knitting patterns, I think?) is even less obvious. That matters because it means the subtext is important and deliberate, and there are non-straight characters in this fictional universe by the author’s admission.

The most significant aspect of Lupin’s relationship with Tonks is in the background leading up to it. Tonks has been more withdrawn and depressed throughout The Half-Blood Prince, which kinda bugs me for reasons I’m not getting into today. However, there’s a moment when the central characters are all in St. Mungo’s hospital recovering, and Bill Weasley has been attacked by a werewolf. Fleur Delacaur launches into a speech about how she doesn’t care what he looks like or what this means, she still loves him and wants to marry him. And then this happens:

“You see!” said a strained voice. Tonks was glaring at Lupin. “She still wants to marry him, even though he’s been bitten! She’s doesn’t care!”
“It’s different,” said Lupin, barely moving his lips and looking suddenly tense. “Bill will not be a full werewolf. The cases are completely--”
“But I don’t care either, I don’t care!” said Tonks, seizing the front of Lupin’s robes and shaking them. “I’ve told you a million times. . . .”

---The Half-Blood Prince p. 623-624

That’s when Harry realizes that Tonks is in love with Lupin. He’s been avoiding her up to this point not because he doesn’t feel the same way, but because he’s carrying so much guilt and self-loathing he doesn’t think he’s good enough for her. This might seem like a catch-all “I love you just the way you are!” speech, and you can read it that way, but here’s the thing, dear readers: When you’re bi, you have to wrestle with coming out to everyone you know. Including people you might be interested in romantically. And then you have to hope they’ll accept you anyway. Which, some of the time, they don’t. So the fact that Tonks accepts Lupin as a werewolf--that’s a big deal. It’s a relatively minor detail in this huge saga, but one that gains greater significance for me every time I revisit it.

Thanks for reading, and I’ll see you with another Werewolf Pride blog soon!

Date: 2017-06-16 12:51 pm (UTC)
lindalupos: (Default)
From: [personal profile] lindalupos
(Got here through Author_By_Night's LJ post)

I mostly considered him bi because it allowed me to ship him with both Sirius and Tonks, possibly at the same time. :p But your connecting this with his lycantropy is an interesting angle I hadn't considered before! So thanks for making me look at one of my favorite characters in a new light. :)

Date: 2017-07-02 07:00 am (UTC)
star_healer: (Default)
From: [personal profile] star_healer
I agree, I think the message about acceptance of a good person living with undue stigma resonates with real LGBT people a lot, and was something that many needed to hear.

Date: 2017-07-02 08:30 pm (UTC)
star_healer: (Default)
From: [personal profile] star_healer
Yes, she's actually stated that in a couple of places! There's a mention of it here on Pottermore:

As gay and bi men were hit especially hard by AIDs in the 80s, and the stigma surrounding homosexuality is actually the reason that it took years to get funding for researching any cure or treatment. I think the earliest name given to it was actually GRID (gay related immune deficiency) as it was being associated with gay men. It's seems very likely to me that she was thinking about that when writing him. So I go with both, and take Lupin as probably being based off of an HIV+ bi man, whether he was ever interested in Sirius or not, and I think the message of accepting a kind person and not treating them badly due to social stigma is wonderful and means a lot.


glitter_n_gore: (Default)

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