To My Fellow Hogwarts Houseless: You Are Not Alone
Friends, I have a confession to make: I don’t have a Hogwarts House. I have never bothered to don the Sorting Hat, officially or otherwise. I have not taken any of the myriad quizzes that will tell me my house based on my favorite book, my childhood role models, my Meyers-Briggs personally type, or any other personal attribute, real or imagined.
Believe me, this is not because I do not love Harry Potter. I love Harry Potter! And it’s not because I’m stubborn or because I don’t want to be part of a fandom. I am 100% behind anyone who wants to know their house. If forced, I’d place myself in Hufflepuff, but to be perfectly honest, until writing this sentence, I have literally spent less than ten minutes of my life thinking about this. I just don’t care.
As a lifelong nerd and fantasy lover, and as someone who spends a lot of time in the bookish world (both on the internet and in real life), my houselessness comes up more often than you might think. Bookstagrammers, booktubers, and book bloggers proudly proclaim their Hogwarts house on their profiles and webpages. It’s a great conversation starter. When you have as many beautifully nerdy and book-obsessed friends as me, it’s just assumed that you know your house and will happily high-five your fellow Ravenclaws or Slytherins at parties.
But despite having to explain that I don’t have a Hogwarts house when asked about it by well-meaning friends and acquaintances, I can’t manufacture any desire to immerse myself in Harry Potter fandom. This isn’t an attack on fandom. I was a weird, book-obsessed kid. I grew up on Star Wars and The Lord of the Rings and role-playing games. I know that fandoms, of all kinds, provide a deep sense of connection and community, especially for young people who feel alone or misunderstood in the real world. Like anything that involves large groups of humans, Harry Potter fandom has its problems, but as far as I know, on the whole, it is more affirming than alienating.
So it’s not the idea of getting sorted that irks me. It’s just that I’m not built to be a fan. It’s not the way I relate with the things I love. I think about this every time I see a new article about Harry Potter or see a new sorting quiz and find myself, once again, totally uninterested. Are there really only two options—fan, or hater? What about the rest of us?
I only have a vague sense of what Pottermore is. I’ve never dressed up as a Harry Potter character. I’ve seen pictures of The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, and it looks cool, but it’s not on my top ten list of places to go. I haven’t read anything Harry Potter–related beyond the seven original books. I wasn’t planning on seeing the new movie, even before I learned that, infuriatingly, Dumbledore will be straight-washed.
But I have read the whole series five times, and dipped in and out of it countless more. I did stay up all night back in 2007 when the last book came out, refusing to leave my room until I’d finished it. Harry Potter is not my favorite book in the world, but I do love it. It has delighted and inspired and moved me. The series was a part of my adolescence and it informs who I am as an adult. I may not be a fan, but does that mean I have any less claim to Harry Potter than those who are?
What I’ve finally realized is that there are a thousand ways to love Harry Potter. You can love it by decorating your bedroom in your house colors. You can love it by rereading the series every year. You can love it by cosplaying Harry Potter characters every chance you get, immersing yourself in Pottermore, or writing kickass fanfic. You can love it by reading it to your kids or because you re-watch the movies every time you’re sick. You can even love it simply because you read the books once and they made you smile.
So, to all the lovely Ravenclaws, Hufflepuffs, Slytherins, and Gryffindors out there, I am so glad you have found your house. May your Quidditch teams always win and your hourglasses in the Great Hall overflow with jewels. Seriously, you are the best. But to my fellow Hogwarts houseless: please remember that you are still allowed to be head-over-heels in love with Harry Potter. You don’t need have a house—or even want one—to claim your place in the wizarding world. You still belong, and you are not alone.