The Importance of Queer Headcanons

Everyone wants to be a hero. That’s why fantasy novels are so popular. They allow us to get inside the heads of extraordinary people and pretend, just for a while, that we too are capable of such feats.

However, it’s easier for some people to imagine themselves as their favorite characters than it is for others. For example, a young gay boy will struggle to identify with a hero who falls in love with a girl. And unfortunately, the number of straight characters in popular media far outweighs the number who are canonically queer. That doesn’t mean it’s impossible for queer kids to find themselves in novels like Harry Potter, though. That just means we have to get creative. This is where headcanons come in.

Headcanons are concepts, ideas, or events that were not explicitly stated as true in canon, but rather are the creation of fans, things they’d like to believe. These can range from ideas like Professor Snape drinks his coffee black, to the belief that Aberforth goes to his sister’s grave every year. Headcanons can also revolve around the identities of characters.

The thing is that while most characters are assumed straight, for a lot of them, it’s never explicitly said that they are. After all, maybe Seamus Finnegan and Dean Thomas really did date, and Harry just never noticed. Sirius is never given a love interest in the books, so he could be gay. And Ginny Weasley never said she wasn’t bi. We don’t know.

For straight readers, this doesn’t matter that much. Maybe the characters are queer, maybe not, but they already have plenty of representation. But for young queer readers, being able to see themselves in the characters they look up to is incredibly exciting. Many times, these kids might feel isolated, that they’re the only ones who feel the way they do. And the dearth of canonically queer characters doesn’t help.

But queer headcanons can help them feel less alone because then they can look at these characters they already relate to and imagine that those characters really are just like them. They can imagine that the fantastical universe of Harry Potter isn’t filled with mostly straight people and one gay character. Instead, they can immerse themselves in their very own version of Hogwarts where the characters have a colorful rainbow of identities.

Therefore, Nymphadora Tonks can be pansexual. Luna Lovegood can be genderqueer. Charlie Weasley can be asexual. And dozens of other characters can all be some flavor of queer. Different people might not see them the same way, but in the end, the only thing that matters is finding a way we can all see ourselves in our heroes.

  • Iain Walker

    Apart from “thinking of Dumbledore as gay” (which strictly speaking is more meta-canon than canon), Rowling doesn’t seem to have put much thought into sexual diversity when writing the books. So I’m really not sure if the following is deliberate or accidental, but …

    Monocle-wearing amongst women is historically rare and is most commonly associated with lesbians in bohemian circles in the early twentieth century. Yet we meet at least two monocle-wearing witches (Amelia Bones and Professor Grubbly-Plank). We are not told that either of them are married, and they both appear to be old enough for the fashion to have percolated through the cultural divide when they were younger.

    It’s ambiguous, of course – witches and wizards are nothing if not eclectic when it comes to adopting Muggle fashions, and this may be all that Rowling was trying to suggest. But it’s still one of the most suggestive hints of queer sexuality in the books. And, sadly, one of the only ones.

    • Mikaela Renshaw

      Huh, that’s super fascinating. I know I have a new headcanon now. Thanks for sharing that!

  • Edgar Torné

    A person (real or fictional), until stated otherwise, will be perceived as a straight cisgendered person. That’s why usually homophobic people will get offended when they’re being told that, for example, Dumbledore’s gay or Seamus and Dean dated during their school days, because, for them, since it’s not mentioned in the book, they’re not queer characters. And that’s also why coming out of the closet is still a thing now.

    • Mikaela Renshaw

      You’re exactly right. Hopefully someday it will be different, but until it is, I’ll keep having fun with headcanons.