Meet The Queer Make Up Artists Reclaiming Harry Potter

Make up has tremendous power. It can be used to build your confidence, to define your identity and tell your own story. It can be a shield, a paintbrush, a pen, and a tool of rebellion.
StaceyHenleyStaceyHenley
Jun. 18, 2020
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Cherie is an online community of beauty lovers sharing their stories; whether that's their favorite products, makeup tutorials, or skincare routines. Download the app today to be a part of #BeautyWithoutBarriers and show the world what beauty means to you!It’s tough being a Harry Potter fan right now, especially if you’re in the LGBT+ community. While JK Rowling has a history of using stereotypical minority characters and claiming representation that she hadn’t actually written, she’s recently dove into more active transphobia online. This is by no means the first time she’s engaged with this kind of rhetoric, though it is the most obvious, with Rowling continuing to double down on her views ever since then. While previously Emma Watson and more recently Daniel Radcliffe have spoken up in defence of transgender people, it still leaves Harry Potter fans grappling with the fact that the woman who created their favourite world is no friend to the LGBT+ community. Some queer Harry Potter fans are fighting back though, with the most powerful weapon in their arsenal: make up.Dame Wolfe
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Dame Wolfe’s take on Luna LovegoodTrans cosplayer Dame Wolfe spoke about the ways queer people are reclaiming the world of Harry Potter, leaving JK Rowling behind in the process. “There are a lot of reimaginings of the Harry Potter stories being done by many people in the fandom. One of the ones that I am a part of is called Rainbow Sorcery, created by two of my friends where we reimagine canon Harry Potter characters but with more inclusion and visibility in the LGBTQIA+ community. For example, my Luna Lovegood is asexual. It’s taking ownership of characters we love and giving them new life in a way.”Azrai
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Azrai’s Cedric Diggory alongside queerelfclub’s mixed race trans masc Harry PotterAzrai is another queer TikTok makeup artist who participates in Rainbow Sorcery, and they hit upon a lot of the same points. “On TikTok, we’ve been participating in story hashtags with the specific purpose of taking these characters back, giving them the identities we saw pieces of in them and resonated with.” Through the power of make up, Azrai has been able to rebuild some of their favourite Harry Potter characters with a much more inclusive identity. “My particular cosplays within these stories are Cedric Diggory reimagined as trans masculine, and Remus Lupin as gay and demisexual… Despite JK’s failings, her models of nontoxic Hufflepuff masculinity have been groundbreaking for me personally. I am happier with myself than I have ever been in my life, and these cosplays had a big part in that.”These tags aren’t just one off TikToks either; these stories have been using a mixture of makeup and text for a very long time. Azrai explains that “[fellow queer Harry Potter fans] TTbret and Sirussly have been expanding on the Harry Potter universe for years,” and that their own trans masc Cedric has a whole arc laid out for him; “I’m personally focusing on playing a trans masc Cedric Diggory (who will not be dying) and a relationship between him and Draco (played by lunaclunatic on TikTok), in which Draco gets the de-radicalization arc that Rowling hinted at and then miserably failed to deliver.” Dame Wolfe also spoke about the power of non-traditional masculinity in Hufflepuff, through her own OC crossplay, Felix. “Hufflepuff are seen as rather soft in the HP canon, [but] a few notable characters break the mold or rewrite it in a way to not be mistaken for appearing weak. Which is why I created Felix, my OC. I loved the idea of creating a character in a house that was considered very soft and cuddly, and have him be a very rough around the edges kind of lad. The juxtaposition was terribly fun, but deep down you can see the core values shine through.” Dame Wolfe added that the housing system of Hogwarts is a crucial reason the queer community has connected so deeply with Harry Potter, “ There’s a beauty in the ideal that there is a place for everyone. A literal house of belonging for each person who comes into the doors of Hogwarts. It’s a lovely idea.” Azrai had another theory on why so many queer people found solace in Harry Potter. Whether JK Rowling had intended it or not, it seems like she wrote a boatload of gay characters. “Besides the fact that JK - wittingly or not - queer coded quite a few of her characters, she did write a story about a group of kids battling prejudice and oppression. The canonical discrimination was mostly based on purely fantasy elements, but that allowed us to see ourselves in it. There is a generation of kids who essentially grew up along with Harry and found incredible hope, meaning and community through that world. These stories were formative for a huge amount of people. It’s about the communities and friendships they found through a shared love of that universe, lessons about fighting for justice in an unjust system, and permission to be themselves despite what others perceptions of them may be; all of this being especially meaningful and important for queer people. Or at least, for me as a queer person.” As for the relationship between JK Rowling and the Harry Potter fanbase, it’s difficult to see things improving so long as Rowling avoids growth. “I think people started to become critical of her when they saw tweets she was liking from known TERFs [Trans Exclusionary Radical Feminists] and began to parrot their rhetoric,” Azrai explains, “JK Rowling’s world was meant to be a bit whimsical even as it became dark, parodying parts of her culture. But we now know that there are many things about this universe that reinforce an imperialist worldview. Conversations that weren’t necessarily happening at the time it was written, but she also doesn’t seem to have made an effort to educate herself or examine that worldview since.” Azrai points to several examples of this worldview in Harry Potter, such as “Jewish-coded, ‘hook-nosed,’ money hungry goblins, the entire house elf/slave race situation, the fact that Harry Potter was written in the ‘90s around the time of the Troubles and the only Irish character liked to blow things up, the only character of any kind of Asian descent was named Cho Chang which, from what I read, is not a name that makes sense no matter what the character’s heritage is.” Dame Wolfe echoed these sentiments, succinctly explaining “There are quite a few issues, with her being a TERF, and the racist and anti-Semitic tones she’s written with are a few, but over the past few days online we’ve seen more of it come to light. We’ve seen this from her for years now, in honesty. There seems to be no character development for Mrs. Rowling.”
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