Image from Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (2007)
Sirius Black was introduced to the reader in Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban as a mass murderer that had escaped prison and was actively seeking to find and kill the orphan Harry Potter (Rowling 38). Sirius Black was also known to be an “animagus,” this is a wizard with the capabilities of transforming into an animal at will; Sirius could turn into a dog. Upon these news, Hogwarts was locked down and guards were deployed to keep the children safe as it was feared that Sirius would go looking for Harry (Rowling, 85). Eventually, Harry learned that Sirius Black was his godfather and was wrongfully convicted for crimes which caused Harry to fill with hope given that Sirius was the only family he seemed to know (Rowling 355). Sirius, Harry learned, was ostracized by his family while growing up due to his lack of interest in pursuing the Dark Arts or joining the army of Voldemort, the ultimate dark figure and Harry’s archenemy in the series (Rowling 356). Sirius was never exonerated from his crime charges in the eyes of the law, and in the following novels, Sirius went into hiding and often went to visit, disguised in the form of a dog, Harry Potter and his friends. Sirius played an important role in the development of the series and of the hero.
Sirius Black’s state of man/dog could be read through the lens of Kathryn Bond Stockton’s queer theory of the “interval of animal.” Sirius’ queerness comes from his family’s rejection which perhaps plays a part in his seeking to “grow sideways,” in this way magically, into a dog; dogs are often referenced as “children that never grow.” Harry Potter stands in as Lee Edelman’s figure of the Child due to all the ways in which his innocence and well-being must be protected. Not only was information withheld from Harry because of his age, but he was constantly surrounded by adults that were solely dedicated to the purpose of protecting him from evil forces; Harry was often referred to as “the Boy who Lived” or “the Chosen One.” Sirius Black is the “ghostly gay child” that haunts the figure of the Child. Harry had to be protected from Sirius as others believed he sought to kill our hero. Harry, as the Child, cannot coexist with Sirius, the “ghostly gay child” within the narrative. Sirius, never absolved from wrongful accusations, was forced to hide and stay away from the public eye. Although Harry kept in touch with him clandestinely, the outcome of the story is a signifier of the way queerness and the Child cannot coexist.
In our rather boring Muggle world, the “ghostly gay child” and the Child have finally met. I say this in light of the recent teen suicides linked to sexual orientation and bullying. How can we handle children with sexualities? Who can we blame now? #helloqueerchild