For nearly twenty years, Harry Potter Fan Zone has been my little labour of love. It’s something I do for fun — a hobby project to channel creative juices and provide a small dose of (I hope) entertainment and community for fans of J.K. Rowling’s books. Quite consciously, I’ve chosen to maintain a clear separation between my personal and professional lives and my online ‘Potter’ voice. With (a splash of) Aussie humour, I strive to objectively and authentically report on all things Wizarding World.
As this year goes on, I’ve found it increasingly challenging to separate those voices.
We’re all here because — at some point in our lives — we’ve been moved by Harry Potter. For many, it’s an unquantifiable source of warmth and joy. I include myself in the list of those who have found Rowling’s seven books to be a magical literary escape and a constant source of comfort. A glowing Patronus pushing back against personal and worldly struggles. Harry’s story is a guiding light for what is just and right. A lesson in tolerance and acceptance. A stern warning against narrow-mindedness, cruelty and unfounded prejudice.
If I could grab a wand and extract one silvery thread of truth from the ‘Potter’ books, it would be this: just be kind. Love and respect people for who they are and how they see themselves. Celebrate difference. Be patient, empathetic and learn from the experiences and challenges of others. The ways in which an individual chooses to find meaning, express their identity, or live out their short tenure on this big rotating rock is — quite frankly — nobody’s business but theirs. Your life will go on, I assure you.
What is to be gained by using a platform with such immense reach and influence to send loaded soundbite-sized messages which do little more than derail positive discourse and further sting those who are already the target of significant discrimination and abuse? Not everyone wears their suffering on their sleeves: I can’t imagine the internal and external pain trans and non-binary folk suffer on a daily basis. For a group already plagued with high suicidality rates, would it hurt to just be nice. At the same time, back-and-forth conversation loaded with cruelty, immature name-calling, vitriol and hate does nothing to educate, inform or uplift those already feeling marginalised, downtrodden or seeking to become better allies. The world isn’t divided into the untouchably virtuous and the unfixably evil — but it sure feels like it sometimes. The ‘Potter’ community has always led by example. Let’s keep that up.
The world is hurting right now: voices who have long deserved just amplification are finally being heard. I absolutely appreciate that it’s easy to label a flowery worded response to an issue as poignant and culturally significant as this as virtue-signalling. An attempt to assuage the crowd. Hollow allyship from those more privileged. I owe a great debt to J.K. Rowling — my personal and professional lives have undoubtedly been shaped by her creation. Over the last two decades, Jo’s been a shining beacon of kindness, goodwill and philanthropy. While I yearn for her to provide a compassionate longform response to the fractured ‘Potter’ zeitgeist of the late 2010s and those who feel genuine and personal hurt from her words, I can’t blindly ignore suffering in my own backyard. Whether intentional or simply misguided and (very) poorly timed, the Wizarding World community for which I’ve been a member for so long shows respect to all.
As such, I’d like to take Harry Potter Fan Zone’s efforts further:
Harry Potter Fan Zone is a fan website with significant running costs. We offset those costs by running ads. The entirety of our ad revenue earned thus far in 2020 will be donated to support initiatives of far greater importance than our own. Those initiatives are:
- The Trevor Project — an amazing non-profit organisation which provides suicide prevention efforts for LGBTQ youth. (Read Dan Radcliffe’s post today for more context.)
- Black Lives Matter — an activist organisation fighting against systemic violence, racism and prejudice against black people.
- Reconciliation Australia — a not-for-profit organisation in my native country which promotes and facilitates reconciliation between the wider Australian community and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.
If you’ve read this far, thank you. From today, we’ll continue our regular ‘Potter’ transmissions — reporting on the books, films, merchandise and new storytelling from Jo. That’s what brings me (and hopefully our readers) joy. I don’t want to stop. If this editorial means you want to throw HPFZ in the nearest Vanishing Cabinet, I completely understand. For me, Harry Potter continues to be a glorious source of escapism and warmth in an increasingly turbulent year. There’s no reason anyone should be denied that pleasure. For the fans who seek comfort in the Wizarding World, we are for you. For the creators who pour heart and soul into ‘Potter’-related endeavours — both official and unofficial — we are here to celebrate you.
For anyone feeling disenfranchised, lost, or without voice, the Wizarding World welcomes you. If you want someone to talk to, my inbox is always open.
Andy McCray is the creator and editor of Harry Potter Fan Zone, an unofficial Wizarding World website based in Australia and established in 2003.