“But Jessica, you're the resident Harry Potter nerd. You had a Harry Potter wedding even! How can you hate JK Rowling when you once called her Queen Jo?”
Well, first of all, fuck her and I hope she has a bumpy roll down this hill she chose to die on. Every LGBTQ+ person that has ever existed or will ever exist is more important than her. Every POC with a real name (as opposed to the ones she made up poorly) is more important than her. I can think of few people who are less important than her in my eyes.
Yes, I grew up loving Harry Potter and that love followed me into adulthood.
I was 11 when I read the first book and 17 when the last book came out so I literally grew up with Harry and Company. I'm also within a year or two in either direction of most of the film cast. These characters taught me so much about love and friendship and doing what's right instead of what you're told. Through page and screen, I lived in a world that felt as much my home as reality did.
Fast forward to 2013 and getting engaged at the Wizarding World and then 2015 getting married and having a HARRY POTTER WEDDING (followed by a honeymoon back to the Wizarding World).
I even sent JK Rowling an invitation and wrote her a heartfelt letter about how she raised a second little girl named Jessica (also her daughter's name). This was after the whole “Dumbledore has always been gay” information dropped and I foolishly waived that off, thinking she was trying to be progressive but was just awkward about it.
You know what else happened on the day of my Harry Potter wedding? Marriage equality became the law of the land and several of my LGBTQ+ friends partied with us in their honor as well as mine and Jesse's.
Things really only went downhill from Dumbledore and Grindelwald's retroactively shoehorned narrative and I became steadily disenchanted with my once motherly idol.
In the late 2010s, JK Rowling went from barely using Twitter to using it to mock Donald Trump, and we kinda got a kick out of that.
But then people started noticing things that were troubling, but not obvious without some digging. She was following several anti-LGBTQ+ (including TERF and TERF-adjacent) Twitter accounts and got caught liking some tweets that were discriminatory. This has spiraled into her waving her flag on the side of transphobia and bigotry, tall and bright for all to see. When confronted, she hasn't backed off but has doubled down on her hateful stances.
As a feminist, a queer (the epitome of the “grey asexual, bisexual when I can be bothered” meme…) woman, and a fan whose childhood had just been shattered, I was profoundly hurt. More than for myself though, my heart ached for the trans* friends I love who were feeling it even worse. Who took refuge in the Wizarding World and reveled in magic that could help make their dreams come true. Who found solace with some of the (admittedly hamfisted and often cringey) outcast characters who helped provide a better family between the covers of a book than they had within the walls of their home.
Heck, with the right pressure at one point, JK Rowling probably might have announced some character is bisexual or maybe even asexual as some way to throw us some paltry representation. At one point it might have even made me happy if she did. But now I'd gladly turn on my heel and spit those scraps of uninspired pandering back in her face and I hope she's finally feeling the resistance from her once enthralled mob as it turns on her.
I silently wrote her off quite a while back, mourning the downfall of someone I once admired so much.
A popular tweet by @proyearner said it perfectly: “The saddest death in Harry Potter is my respect for JK Rowling.”
But I shouldn't have been silent then and I won't be silent now. As the person many of my friends think of first when it comes to Harry Potter (which always made me happy), it's important that I take a loud and proud stance against the author's bullshit. She hasn't gotten any of my money in at least a year at the time of writing this and I will continue to boycott things that line her pockets.
A caveat being that I haven't made the decision of whether or not I'll ever go to the wizarding world theme park again since it's part of a larger destination. However, that hasn't become a bridge I've had to cross yet.
I will continue to support artists who make Harry Potter-themed items and I will keep my Hogwarts-themed products in my own Etsy store. Because this is OUR world now. She created it but she couldn't take care of it, so it's ours now.
Hell, we've made it better.
I was privileged as a suburban cis white kid to take longer to see the glaring lack of representation and abundance of appropriation that hinted at her wickedness, but I see it clearly now and I will not ignore it. She might have seemed progressive in 1997 but there's a clear lack of regard for respect, diversity, and inclusion in the wizarding world — and we as fans have filled those gaps and broadened her template into something truly beautiful.
Our world is magic. It's Black Girl Magic, it's resistance magic, it's Pride magic, and so much more. And if I had to trade away everything JK Rowling gave me to save everything she doesn't appreciate, I would.
I still look back on my Harry Potter wedding with intense fondness. It's one of my proudest achievements to have pulled off such an amazing event. The woulda / coulda / shoulda / wannabe event planner in me remembers it as an undeniable success and I think I'll always see it that way.
I don't regret it. I did what I did at a time when I had the information and perspective I had.
All you can do is adjust as you learn more, and go forward to do better. As I continue to gush about my HP wedding, I'll always do so with all the sentiments above in my heart and on my lips when I'm asked how I feel about Jo.
These days all my social media bios that list what I'm into say something simple like “Harry Potter (fuck JKR)”.
And that's how your resident queer intersectional feminist Harry Potter nerd feels about it.