Harry Potter and the Half-Baked TERF

It was December 3, 1998. I was driving home to the apartment that Ann and I shared in Cambridge, MA. The late Margo Adler, NPR correspondent and author of the wonderful book Drawing Down the Moon was doing a review of a book on All Things Considered. I remember arriving and parking and staying in the car to hear the whole thing. I was mesmerized. I went inside, spent a few minutes looking online and finally finding a recording of the show (no small feat in 1998!) and playing it for Ann. She was equally spellbound. We agreed that we should give this to lots of people that Christmas and so I ordered 6 copies from Amazon to give to friends and family. My 11 or 12 year old niece was deeply offended that we gave her a children’s book that year (she had been reading Black Ice at the time) but then read it and understood why. The book was Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone.

23 or so years since its debut, we own complete US and British hardcover series. We own most of a different UK hardcover series (more serious with woven covers), all of the extra books and the start of the picture book series that is currently coming out roughly one per year. We also own all eight movies both on DVD and iTunes (where I got lucky one day and got all eight for $20 when the price was mysteriously that low for a few hours one morning). And we own all seven books on audio, read by the delightful Jim Dale. When Ann was pregnant with Marci, I read the first book to Marci in utero. We went to midnight releases and took turns reading each book as it came out. The Potterverse has been a large part of all of our lives. But that was then.

J.K. Rowling has been saying some truly awful things. And it isn’t all that new. Marci has been telling us for more than two years that Rowling is transphobic, that the books are actually quite problematic with some thinly veiled racism and antisemitism. We always brushed it off as interpretation, or, later, that she was misguided and would come around. It wasn’t interpretation. She did not come around. This week she doubled down spouting long-refuted nonsense, right-wing transphobic talking points, and general ignorance. That was the straw that broke the proverbial camel’s back.

This weekend, we’ll be taking all of the books and the DVDs and putting them into a box and storing them away. Maybe Rowling will get educated and realize she was wrong and make amends for the horrible things she has said and the attacks she has levied on one of the more vulnerable groups out there: trans-women. Our own daughter is a trans-woman and we cannot continue to make excuses for Rowling, nor can we separate the artist from the art. And it feels like a death in the family. I know this emotion, this is grief, this is mourning. But there is just no way to justify holding on to all of this with the artist who created it spouting so much hate and stupidity. So, while it may break our hearts, it is time to let it all go and to move on.

If you aren’t aware of any of this, I strongly suggest the following article by Aja Romano over at Vox: Harry Potter and the Author who Failed Us. It is very powerful and says everything I would want to say but far better.

And I will be on the lookout for a new series that gave me what this one had over the years. Until then, might I suggest the Prydain Chronicals by Lloyd Alexander?

Twenty Years (and one day)

Married couple laughing by the sea

May 15, 1999, Beavertail Lighthouse, Jamestown, Rhode Island: The newlyweds laughing during a photoshot on the rocks by the sea (while all of their wedding guests drink all of the booze before they got back. Luckily the staff stashed a single bottle of Gewurtztraminer for them!)

Bride on a boat
Ann on the Aurora wearing a jacket over her dress

Yesterday was our 20th Wedding Anniversary. I meant to write something then, but work was busy and then Ann and I were out all evening at dinner and then at trivia. The day was a gorgeous day, far nicer than yesterday was (and yesterday was not bad, just a bit chilly and some on and off spitting rain.) Our wedding was held in Jamestown at the New American Baptist church, presided over by a Unitarian Minister reading a ceremony that we mostly wrote. Friends spoke and sang. My niece, who was around six at the time, was the flower girl and wanted to strew rose petals as she came down the aisle. But we had no rose petals so she pulled the heads off the flowers she was carrying and beaned people with them instead. We had a wedding scroll that people signed. We took pictures at Beavertail Lighthouse and we had a reception on Goat Island in Newport. And after all that, we had a three hour tour (a three hour tour 🎶) of the bay on the schooner Aurora (it was freezing by then and few were dressed for it. So, that happened.) The day was wonderful.

The next day we wore these fun and campy baseball caps that read BRIDE and GROOM. We wandered the piers of Newport visiting various stores. We split up at one point and I went into a Ben & Jerry’s to get some ice cream. The woman working there took one look at me, looked around, asked me where “BRIDE” was and when I said I wasn’t sure, she stuck her head out the window and began shouting, “BRIDE! BRIDE!” She realized soon after that she had been in Jamestown the day before and had actually seen us going into or coming out of the church.

“To twenty years: a good beginning.”

The next day we flew to Italy for a two week long honeymoon (from which exactly five photos exist as we forgot our camera.)

There are lots of stories from those days and I do enjoy telling them. But I will hold the ones I haven’t told here yet for another day. Twenty years seems like a long time when you are looking forward. When looking back, it seems quite short. So many things feel like yesterday. But one thing is constant: I won the lottery. I married my best friend, someone who makes me, in every way, a better person. And I found someone who can put up with me (no small feat, that) and who actually seems to (mostly) enjoy it.

I’ll end this with the words I said last night during our complimentary Prosecco toast: “To twenty years: a good beginning.”