I know I’m far from the first person to write on the queer subtext of this film, but I wrote an article about my opinions for Irish magazine Nós, and my non-Irish-speaking friends wanted a translation.
So here is my reading of Fantastic Beasts.
The Secret world
At the centre of the story are four characters, three who have magic and one no-maj. (You can figure out what that means for yourself.)
The no-maj Jacob is our eyes and ears for the film, and he spends most of it in state of awe and wonder as he takes in the wondrous magical world that has secretly always been there, a world filled with interesting, beautiful creatures, most of whom are extremely well dressed. It’s a neat comparison.
Jacob spends most of the film making faces like this:
By the way, Newt Scamander carries his Fantastic Beasts (Fabulous Beasts more like, amirite?) in a suitcase. Tell me this, what is a suitcase other than a portable closet?
At one point the no-maj Jacob literally jumps feet first into the suitcase (read: closet, read: queer world).
Jacob is enthralled by the variety of magical creatures he encounters, big and small, scaly and feathery. Scamander tells him that the creatures have been hunted and are in danger of extinction, although none of them actually pose a threat. Hmm…
Anyone who has ever had the opportunity to witness a straight person going to a gay bar or attending a drag show for the first time will surely recognise Jacob’s reaction:
A central part of the plot is the obscurius – a dark force that is causing death and destruction in New York City.
This dark force comes about when a young witch or wizard makes efforts to suppress their powers. Their magical powers don’t go away, instead a parasitic creature called an obscurius forms within them. (It is literally represented by a dark cloud, hello mental health metaphor!)
The obscurius causes damage to people around it and to the host, often causing death. I probably don’t need to labour the point here too much, I’d imagine that anyone who has spent time denying or hiding their identity (sexual or otherwise) finds the idea of the obscurius easy to relate to.
Credence and Graves
Behold the orphan Credence (played by the absolute babe Ezra Miller, who you can tell is a next-level babe because he looks good even while sporting that haircut):
Credence is struggling with the interest that he has in “magic” (read: being queer).
So Credence lives in an orphanage and the woman in charge is a “Second Salemer” (literally wants a second Salem witch hunt). She’s against magic because it’s bad and unnatural (heard that about anything else?) so she adopts orphans to try indoctrinate them against magic.
Despite her efforts, Credence is still interested in getting involved in the magical world. His point of contact is an auror called Graves (played by Colin Farrell, who could resist?) who meets with Credence because he thinks that the obscurius is from a child in the orphanage.
Their relationship is extremely homo-erotic. They meet in dark lanes and whisper sweet nothings into each others ears, then embrace, with the uncertain Credence allowing the older Graves to take the lead.
Oh and they gaze at each other like this:
Of course I’m not alone in noticing the glaring homoeroticism of their relationship, and there are already many videos on YouTube made by people who ship this couple.
Dumbledore and Grindelwald
Those who have read and re-read Harry Potter know well that there is a long and complicated story between Dumbledore and Grindelwald (played by a puffy Johnny Depp, below).
Diligent fans will also know that in 2007 Rowling confirmed Dumbledore’s sexuality as gay, and in an interview a few years later she said that Dumbledore had unrequited love for Grindelwald.
Ok, so nothing actually happens between the pair in this film, but the subtext is there and remember, this is only the first film of five.
The Guardian has stressed that care must be taken in future films in the series to ensure that Dumbledore is not painted as a token gay character, and that concern is echoed in many places, with many calls being made that his relationship with Grindelwald not glossed over.
So there you have it…
Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, the gayest blockbuster I’ve ever seen. I don’t think I’ve stretched the truth in my readings of the film.
Of course, this is just one reading of the film. LGBT groups are not the only minority that are persecuted and there are other readings of the film that are equally valid.
And as one Huffington post writer points out, given the political climate in the US right now, a film that discusses social oppression could not come at a better time.
Whether you agree or disagree with the above, I’d be very interested in hearing your opinion! @MiseCiara.
Finally, here’s a gratuitous picture of the immaculately turned out Seraphina Picquery, President of the Magical congress of the United States.