J. K. Rowling revealed over the weekend that, in fact, Albus Dumbledore of the Harry Potter series was gay (he's killed in the sixth book, I understand, although he apparently makes a cameo to Harry when he briefly dies in the seventh :-). The trigger for this revelation came when she had them remove from the next movie an allusion to a girl he had once liked. Rowling informed the screenplay writer that Dumbledore would not have had such a crush because he is gay.
What a great opportunity to discuss hermeneutics (I can bring just about anything back to the subject)! To what extent does the author of these books have the authority to tell us things that she has not made clear already in the books? They are, as she tells us, already a "closed canon." That is to say, she will not be writing any more books in the series. Can she then make the texts mean something that they do not clearly mean?
The names that should spring to mind are of course Paul Ricoeur and Stanley Fish. For Ricoeur, once a text has been uttered, its author loses control over its meaning. It becomes, in a sense, autonomous. Nevertheless, Ricoeur did believe that the "world of the text" accommodated certain interpretations better than others.
For Fish, even the text cannot hold control over its own meaning. Texts mean whatever the communities that read them want them to mean.
So we return to the original question, Does Rowling have the power to control the meaning of her uttered texts? According to Vanhoozer, there is an "ethics of meaning" that requires us to listen to the author's intent. But somehow with art, with novels, paintings, sculptures, architecture, the piece itself seems to trancend such earthly moorings. The brilliance of art is that the viewer can make it after her own image.
So some reading communities of Potter will no doubt be glad to adopt Rowling's "interpretation" of one of her characters--indeed had done so before her announcement. But the character of Dumbledore in the text of Harry Potter winks at us and refuses to tell us. Indeed, Rowling herself cannot make him tell of his sexuality. It is his secret--he is free to be whatever he wants to be.