As a queer Harry Potter fan, Hogwarts Legacy gives me an impossible choice

Laura Gray
Hogwarts Legacy 1 billion

I have been a Harry Potter fan for decades, but J. K. Rowling’s transphobic statements have made it impossible to decide whether I should keep reading the books, being involved with the fandom, or playing new games like Hogwarts Legacy.

There has been no good answer to the debate surrounding Hogwarts Legacy for Harry Potter fans. Those who grew up with the series have found themselves adrift following years of transphobic remarks from series creator J. K. Rowling, with the author steadily alienating her reader base.

Unfortunately, for a large group of us, the choice to avoid or play Hogwarts Legacy isn’t a clear-cut decision – especially for members of the queer community. Queer fans have been impacted by the Harry Potter books and movies, with the stories interwoven into our personal identities. For LGBTQ+ people, a large part of the pain surrounding Rowling’s remarks comes from previously finding relief and safety in both the series and its fanbase.

Because of this, separating the personal trauma of Rowling’s transphobic rhetoric from the safety of a community we called home can be emotionally devastating. For many of us, it runs very deeply – and it has for me.

Hogwarts Express

Why I don’t know how to feel about Hogwarts Legacy

I was six years old when Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone came out in America. My grandmother sent me the first book for Christmas. I remember sitting in the cardboard box her gifts had arrived in and touching the cover, admiring the colors. I begged my dad to read it to me over and over until I could recite the passages along with him.

I was transfixed by this magical world where someone so different could do so many amazing things.

I received the latest Harry Potter book at Christmas every year, and I found myself completely consumed by the Wizarding World. Like so many genderqueer, LGBTQ+ kids, I knew I was different very early. Expectations sat on my heart the way specific clothing sat on my skin – wrong. Back then, identities like non-binary weren’t accessible. My parents didn’t even dare whisper “gay” when I came home crying from a friend’s house so embarrassed because “I liked her and she saw me in my pajamas”.

When society tried to drown me in cute bob haircuts, little dresses, and hair pins, I escaped into a world filled with magic and possibilities.

When Harry Potter in the Prisoner of Azkaban was released, my place as a hardcore Potter-nerd was cemented. I had never really harmonized with the Golden Trio, but as my dad read the introduction of Remus J. Lupin, I couldn’t describe my delight. I remember telling him, “I am going to be just like Remus when I grow up.”

My poor father was completely confused, but what I saw was a character who had to fight to be seen as worthy, who struggled to see the value in himself, and who society wrote off as “dangerous”. These were the same descriptions I knew about queer people, and it was the same way I felt about myself.

Harry Potter Time Turner

Falling in love over Sirius Black and Remus Lupin

As I grew up, Harry Potter stayed with me as a foundational point in my love of gaming and fandom. I played every Harry Potter video game that was released, joined forum boards, and roleplayed characters with friends. I began drawing fanart and I built cosplays to wear to conventions – always as Remus Lupin. Looking back now at 30, it’s a bit embarrassing, but it still brings me such joy.

I began to connect with other fans who were fascinated with characters that lacked backstories and found that like me, many people saw queer coding in the books and movies. In fact, the queer community was robust and supportive within the Harry Potter fandom, and it became a safe place for me to explore my own identity. A place so much less scary than my rural, small-town upbringing could provide.

I became fascinated with the untold story of the Marauders and was curious to know if J. K. Rowling purposefully wrote Remus Lupin and Sirius Black as quietly queer. I wondered if Remus’ lycanthropy was a metaphor for HIV, and found myself writing on the topic as my essay to apply for college.

Once at University, and finally free to be out and proud without fear of what might happen to me at home, I went full tilt. I met other Harry Potter fans on campus, and we talked about what it was like to be queer and love the series. The debate of Remus and Sirius being queer-coded eventually led to meeting the most wonderful person on the planet – the woman that eight years later would become my wife.

We were both struggling to accept ourselves. Like me, Harry Potter had been a place for her to explore her queerness as a child, and it was me telling her that I wanted to be Remus when I grew up that led to her realizing I was transgender – long before I would figure it out myself.

Hogwarts Letter

Together, we wrote long stories about the characters, while falling in love through letters we wrote to each other. The stories we’d grown up with blossomed into a stunning connection that was woven together by the places we’d both used as safe havens in the pages of each Harry Potter book.

In 2019, my wife and I were married with a Marauders-themed wedding. She was my Padfoot, and I was her Moony, and we were so happy to celebrate our future with the same books that had originally brought us together.

Wanting to love Harry Potter as a transperson

I am trans-genderfluid. My gender is a kaleidoscope of color, and my gender identity ripples like water in the sun. By 2020, I was confident in that place, and my mental health after coming out.

Because of this, when J. K. Rowling started voicing transphobic stances on social media, disappointment didn’t cover the feeling that hit me. I remember my wife touching my shoulder, showing me the tweet, and it felt like someone had taken a red-hot mallet and slammed me through my gut.

As more tweets went up, I felt like something in me was dying. I had looked up to this writer. I had seen her work as a safe space. Her words were in my wedding vows, her characters were part of my coming out. Harry Potter was, intrinsically, a part of my life – and now it was all crashing down.

I remember when my wife and I put away our Harry Potter decorations around the house. T-shirts went into storage, and we made a clear choice not to purchase anything else that would benefit J. K. Rowling.

But the pictures of our wedding were on our walls. The love letters we wrote under “Moony” and “Padfoot” are still in my desk drawer. The tattoo and my forearm reading “Mischief Managed” is set black against my freckled skin. Like it or not, Harry Potter was a part of me, and I felt emotionally robbed and furious. I felt like I had to shave out chunks of who I was to make sure I wasn’t supporting her rhetoric against my queer identity.

There is no good decision

Hogwarts Legacy open-world review

Over the years, I have had to come to terms with my love of Harry Potter. I realized I couldn’t walk away from what the series gave me, and the important relationships and experiences that were a part of that.

I realized that going forward, my relationship with Harry Potter was going to be messy – and that came to a head with Hogwarts Legacy.

Up until the game’s announcement, I had stopped buying Harry Potter books, seeing films, or getting any new accessories from the series. Instead of giving Rowling my money, I tried to dump all my love of the series into what had always made it special to me – the fan base. I supported queer creators writing and drawing Harry Potter, wrote my own stories exploring the characters, and tried to feel comfortable enjoying what I couldn’t remove from my life.

However, when Hogwarts Legacy came out, I found myself torn. I wanted to play this game I have fantasized about since childhood. I wanted to create a queer Wizard and make my own Hogwarts story. I wanted my stupid letter.

As a Trans person, the trauma of J. K. Rowling’s words has tainted my memories, making every choice about her work difficult. Do I indulge in a moment of something that has been so important to me, or do I stand against her and alienate pieces of myself in the process?

At the end of the day, I genuinely believe there is no good answer.

I have spoken to so many queer people who are in the same turbulent place, and what I have come away with is that compassion for those of us who were hurt, and doing what you need to in order to process your trauma, is essential.

For everyone struggling out there to process your trauma as it pertains to Hogwarts Legacy, take the steps that are best for you – and know that it’s okay not to have an answer.

About The Author

Laura Gray is a former Senior Writer for Dexerto who mainly covered Pokémon, farming simulation titles, Dungeons and Dragons, and other family-friendly games. Living in Idaho, Laura has previously written for Screen Rant and also works as a book/comic illustrator.