Fantastic Beasts and the Cinematic Closet

By Martin J. Smith


Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them is the latest cinematic installment of the Harry Potter Universe. With a screenplay by J.K. Rowling herself, it takes place in New York City during the height of Roaring Twenties. As a prequel to the Harry Potter story we all know and love, it raises some social and political issues not particularly addressed in the original Harry Potter series.

One of those issues is homophobia, particularly internal homophobia. Although not explicit, but it already has been discussed in previous articles, the cinematic closet takes form by the dark creature known as an Obscurus. In the film, an Obscurus is a destructive force produced by a witch or wizard whose magic is suppressed. It is a parasite that manifests itself when the host, the witch or wizard, becomes emotionally distraught. And the Obscurus eventually kills the witch or wizard host, in 99% of cases, no older than the age of 10.

In Fantastic Beasts, the Obscurus' host is a boy named Credence who is a teenager. Adopted by a muggle (no-maj in America) woman who runs Second-Salem, an anti-Magic coalition whose sole purpose is to find witches and wizards and destroy them. And Credence, with the Obscurus manifested, destroys the city, kills citizens. It is more destructive than a group of Death Eaters attacking Hogwarts.

This is something I can relate to. In high school, a few weeks shy of my 15th birthday, my parents caught me watching gay porn. I told them I was gay. They spent the whole weekend telling me I'm going to Hell, my deceased abuela (maternal grandmother) was ashamed of me, telling me that's how people get AIDS and die.

At the time, I attended an all-boys' Catholic high school in Houston, Texas. I was in theater, and there I met these two open lesbians. They saw me as gay, but I denied it, saying I could be bi. They introduced me to this senior student who was also gay. I had the biggest crush on him. When I found out he had a boyfriend, I was crushed. One day, i kissed him on the cheek. And I was caught. I outed myself, and I became ostracized by my school. People quoted Bible verses at me. I felt no longer safe both at school and at home. I became a bully. I told people I had "a list." The following year, we had a bomb threat, the principal found out about the list, and my parents got involved. I was not the culprit of the bomb threat, but I was suspect because I told people I had “a list.” I survived high school, had a small group of friends. We don’t talk anymore.

When I got to college, I had my first taste of vodka and weed, and boom, I finally felt lifted. I fed my own Obscurus, and we wreaked havoc! I dated a girl, lost my virginity to her, failed classes, decided to go all out and say "Screw everything! This is how I want to live!" And I did! Until I realized I am powerless over alcohol and my life has become unmanageable. After a relapse earlier this year, I'm back with 8 months!

But how could my story and the Obscurus in Fantastic Beasts be relevant today? One word: Trump. We are about to enter an age where people will feel suppressed for not just being gay, but also being trans, Muslim, being black, being a woman. We may have gotten same-sex marriage, but Trump has threatened to take that right away. A right given to us by the Supreme Court, the most powerful office of the federal government.

I got rid of my destructive ways, I accepted who I am. I wear my homosexuality as a badge of honor! I've made peace with my parents! I've made amends to my ex-girlfriend. I'm not going to go back into that closet! I struggled way too hard to get where I am today! I will fight for my rights and the rights of my fellow citizens. I am currently living in Los Angeles, and I have been protesting. I'm going to Trump's golf course here in the LA area to protest next week. I'll be bringing my pride flag, my rainbow feather boa.

Younger members of the LGBTQ community continue to be victims of homophobia. And a number of them take their own lives. They feel the world doesn't love them. And now, they could feel this even more so with Trump seven weeks away from being sworn into office. Trump has selected the most homophobic administration. Trump once said, "Ask the gays!" Here's what this flaming queen's response is: go take a spiked dildo and shove it up your ass, sans lube!

The moment any legislation is passed that not only impedes my rights, but the rights of my fellow citizens, I will fight! My Obscurus is still within me! My Obscurus is still fighting the homophobia I was exposed to as a teenager. I've tamed it doing the 12 Steps and being part of the sober gay community. I love myself. And I love myself enough to protect what is mine and my fellow Americans. Suppress me, and my own personal, sober Obscurus will be there to fight by my side, and the sides of every member of the LGBTQ community.

Everyday, through politicians and religious communities, we are attacked. Telling us we're going to Hell, we can't have marriage, etc. I'm done with the oppression! I'm done doing nothing! I'm done reading articles on LGBT teens committing suicide or getting attacked! I'm done!