20 Years of Harry Potter

Twenty years ago, the first in what would become a series of seven novels, eight film adaptations, five film prequels, sixteen video games, a stage production, and four theme parks worldwide (among many other things), Harry Potter defined a generation of geeks, and re-defined others. The Philosopher's Stone and its many related narratives might not have been perfect but they were magical, and we still cherish them. So on the occasion of the twentieth anniversary of the series, and Harry's thirty-seventh birthday, five of Geeks OUT's biggest Potterheads share some of their reasons why.

Nicole Gitau*

House: I made bookishness a career by becoming a librarian, so Ravenclaw. But if we're talking hybrid houses, Ravenclaw-Slytherin because all this reading and ambition has made me a little dangerous.

Wand: 10 inch, mahogany wood, crow's feather core

Patronus: Tigress—independent, majestic, will tear your throat out if you mess with mine.

Which of the seven core classes at Hogwarts would you have excelled at most? Transfiguration. Why lament about how much the proverbial fly on the wall knows, when you can actually be the fly on the wall.

Favorite spell learned as a first year: Alohamora, because secrets (doors, windows, padlocks) don't unlock themselves.

First character you fell in love with: Hagrid was the first to show unrestrained kindness and love for a child who had never known any. It touched me later to see that kindness as a choice Hagrid made, despite his own ostracism and at the risk of being seen as a naïve oaf.

Most memorable moment: When Sirius fell through the Veil in the Battle of the Department of Mysteries. I had hoped that Harry would hold on to what little family he had left and have the wisdom of a person who had survived so much, but not so. Sirius's death also came the same year the only queer matriarch in my family passed. My loss became so entwined with Harry's.

Most cherished quotation: "It does not do to dwell on dreams and forget to live, remember that." —Dumbledore

Favorite Flavour of Bertie Bott's Every Flavour Beans: Soap. Or Dirt. I'm a contradiction.


Aria Baci

House: I always sorted myself into Ravenclaw, but Pottermore sorted me into Gryffindor, and I can't really argue with Pottermore, can I?

Wand: 13 ¼ inches, rowan wood, phoenix feather core wood, slightly yielding flexibility (slightly)

Patronus: A heron—just like JK Rowling herself!

Which of the seven core classes at Hogwarts would you have excelled at most? Defense Against the Dark Arts. Although I would also have killed it in Potions.

Favorite spell learned as a first year: Alohomora! Let's be honest, queer women face so many barriers in the Muggle world, I would probably use this one more often than any other.

First character you fell in love with: Hermione Jean Granger, the muggle-born witch with frizzy, untamable dark hair, brown eyes, and protruding teeth (who might not look like Emma Watson at all), whose intellectual prowess is surpassed only by her ferocious love for her friends.

Most memorable moment: When the Dursleys try to stop the owls from delivering Harry's acceptance letter from Hogwarts—and they just can't. When his letter comes addressed to "The Cupboard under the Stairs," the Dursleys move Harry to the second bedroom. When the next letter comes to "The Smallest Bedroom," Uncle Vernon nails the mail slot shut. This attempt to erase Harry’s identity as a wizard and prevent him from being appreciated by people who recognize his gifts, this attempt to control him so he can never be who he is and be cherished for it has revealed itself to me over time as a kind of queer narrative. When the letters start flooding the house in increasingly magical ways, affirming Harry's abilities and place in the world, all I can think is: "We're here, we're queer, get used to it!"

Most cherished quotation: "It takes a great deal of bravery to stand up to our enemies, but just as much to stand up to our friends." —Dumbledore

Favorite flavour of Bertie Bott's Every Flavour Beans: BLT on whole wheat toast

Noma Dumezweni as Hermione Granger by Charlie Gray


Sa'Mada Lawler

House: Hufflepuff. I accept no substitutions.

Wand: 13 inches, fir wood, dragon heartstring

Patronus: Otter, so sayeth Pottermore.

Which of the seven core classes at Hogwarts would you have excelled at most? Astronomy. There is nothing more magical than the full moon.

Favorite spell learned as a first year: Wingardium Leviosa. Let's be real. I have magic. I'm a first year. No way am I going to use my legs any more than I have to. It'll do until I can officially learn Accio.

First character you fell in love with: Luna Lovegood. In a world full of wierdos, she was the only weirdo that they refused to accept.

Most memorable moment: When Rowling killed off Sirius. Told me immediately that she does not know how to wield a knife. Also, when Hermione—sweet, muggle-born, child of two dentists Hermione—tried to make a stand for house elf rights, and got absolutely nowhere because the wizarding world is super casual in regards to institutionalized slavery.

Most cherished quotation: "NOT MY DAUGHTER, YOU BITCH!" —Molly Weasley

Favorite Flavour of Bertie Bott's Every Flavour Beans: Coconut


Devin Whitlock

House: I would like to think I'm at least a Hufflepuff, but according to Pottermore, I'm a Slytherin. I'd complain, but that'd just reinforce things...

Wand: 11 inches, acacia wood, unicorn hair

Patronus: Newfoundland. This felt anticlimactic, but I am a dog person...

Which of the seven core classes at Hogwarts would you have excelled at most? I'd like to think Defense Against the Dark Arts, but, let's be honest, I'd be a huge History of Magic nerd.

Favorite spell learned as a first year: Alohomora! I'd never work again for the rest of my life if I had this spell. (Maybe there was something to that Slytherin sorting, after all.)

First character you fell in love with: Neville Longbottom, the put-upon pureblood perpetually underrated who has his own legacy to live up to. He was little more than comic relief in the beginning, but you knew he'd turn out to be important.

Most memorable moment: When Quirrell (20-year-old spoiler alert!) turned out to be Voldemort! Setting off the great Snape debate, and providing an apt metaphor for what it means to really be an ally. If someone says they've got your back, but doesn't help, that person might just be possessed by your nemesis.

Most cherished quotation: "It does not do to dwell on dreams and forget to live, remember that." —Dumbledore

Favorite Flavour of Bertie Bott's Every Flavour Beans: Strawberry and peanut butter ice cream

Matthew Lewis (who once played Neville Longbottom) by Joseph Sinclair for Attitude Magazine


Niala Terrell-Mason

House: My main house is Hufflepuff. I am a Huffleclaw when it comes to bi-houses.

Wand: 11.5 inches, rowan wood, unicorn hair core, "quite bendy flexibility." Let it not be said that Pottermore doesn't know who its queers are.

Patronus: Nebelung cat

Which of the seven core classes at Hogwarts would you have excelled at most? History of Magic. I am 100% sure that Hermione Granger and I are the only two students who have read all volumes of Hogwarts: A History. Twice. I'm really glad I got my copy signed by Bathilda Batshot before she was possessed by the Dark Lord's giant evil snake, Nagini and almost killed Harry and Hermione.

Favorite spell learned as a first year: Reparo. Game. Changer.

First character you fell in love with: Hermione would become my favorite character, but the character I first fell in love with was Harry Potter. These books were way after my own childhood, but I identified so strongly with this sad and angry little boy who is desperate for love and a different life. How many times did I wish I were really from a different family and I just happened to be left in this one? Many times. I fantasized so often about having a secret life, a real life that proved this one was not where I belonged. Harry gets the most secretest wish of my heart. He gets to be special, the most special, and I get to live that through him. Thank you, Harry.

Most memorable moment: Harry discovering the Mirror of Erised. Little 11-year-old Harry and I are so alike. The wonder and pain of being shown exactly what you want most in the world and it being a literal illusion. It's such a heartbreaking scene and it shows us the incredible longing Harry has for parents he doesn't even remember. I think this is one of those character foundation scenes. The whole series is woven through with Harry's longings for his parents, but this first scene, as a first year in the first book, is our first deeply intimate look at how deep and raw that pain is for him.

Most cherished quotation: "The truth." Dumbledore sighed. "It is a beautiful and terrible thing, and should therefore be treated with great caution."

Favorite flavour of Bertie Bott's Every Flavour Beans: Dirt. I seriously amazes me that it really tastes like dirt.


*Let it be known that July 31 is not only Harry Potter's birthday, but also Nicole Gitau's birthday.

Aria Baci's picture
on July 31, 2017

EDITOR IN CHIEF

I geek out about ball-jointed dolls, fashion, folklore, Harry Potter, Hayao Miyazaki, Love and Rockets, make-up, Orphan Black, queer theory, sex positivity, Star Wars, Ursula K. Le Guin, witchcraft, and Wonder Woman, among many other things.