Rob and Kristen’s relationship began with the utmost privacy. As one of Hollywood’s biggest power couples, their celebrity status afforded them the ability to keep their romance under wraps for far longer than most other celebrities could manage. And it worked; while their engagement was announced just a couple of months before the release of the Twilight franchise, it wasn’t until December 2012 that the media finally caught wind of their relationship. The two have spent over a decade keeping their romance alive through strategic secrecy and creative PR stunts, and it’s paid off. For their 10-year anniversary, Rob bought Kristen a $500,000 diamond ring. Thanks to their efforts, as well as those of other stealth celebrities, their success helped pave the way for future queer celebrity couples. Here, we’ll explore the rich history of queer celebrity relationships and the way this one stands out from the crowd.

The Birth Of A Trend

The last decade has seen a seismic shift in queer representation. Thanks to the groundbreaking success of shows like Glee and Orange Is The New Black, as well as major studio films like Magic Mike and Pride, audiences are witnessing a massive uprising in LGBT+ cinema. This new wave of queer-themed entertainment has been inspired by the globally popular Harry Potter franchise, which prominently features wizards and witches, as well as the occasional werewolf or vampire. While Pottermore was always a step ahead of the curve in terms of LGBT+ representation (the site features characters who identify as genderfluid, lesbian, pansexual, and bisexual), it was Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them that truly signaled the start of the movement. When Warner Bros. acquired the film rights to J.K. Rowling’s global juggernaut in 2010, they inherited a goldmine of potential film plotlines, some of which (such as Lumos and Reborn) are explicitly LGBT+ themed.

Given the chance to develop Fantastic Beasts into a film series, Rowling’s Harry Potter franchise might not have been what fans expected. Rather than continue the adventures of Harry Potter, the lead character of the Pottermore website, J.K. Rowling chose to continue the story of Scorpius Black, a werewolf-turned-sorcerer who became a central figure in Fantastic Beasts. Scorpius was written with Rowling closely in mind, as she had to take time off from writing the Harry Potter novels to focus on her Chronicles of Narnia franchise. And what an honor it was to share a character with such a legend. One of Rowling’s most crucial contributions to Scorpius’s story is his marriage to Susan Pegg, a witch whose family were originally from Narnia. The two cross-dress frequently throughout the Pottermore website, leading to many a disbelieving reader mistaking Scorpius for Hermione Granger (Harry Potter’s girlfriend, whom he eventually marries). While Hermione is a lesbian, Susan is a lesbian witch who falls in love with her best friend Harry, who is also a wizard. When Rowling revealed, perhaps not unsurprisingly, that Fantastic Beasts is “set in the 1920s and involves vignettes of gay life in London in the pre- Depression era,” it wasn’t so much the fans who were surprised as those who knew the source of Ron’s unorthodox behavior. The “Squid Game” scene, in which Harry wins the “game” of “Squid Packet with Ron Sobel,” is an example of what J.K. Rowling had in mind when she wrote her bisexual lead character. In the Pottermore website, Harry and Susan are shown playing the “game” of “Squid Packet,” a portmanteau of Squid and Packet that originates from the Sobel household. During the game, Squid is “in the pot,” which gives the player the option of buying another piece of “squid for cash.” The game is played by bidding on a piece of squid and its position, with the person with the highest bidder winning. In a scene that echoes the “Squid Game” from Harry Potter, Susan holds a piece of finish squid in front of her friend and bets him that he can’t identify the type of squid it is. Upon hearing that it is a finish squid, her friend correctly responds, “No, it’s a wax squid.” As the two cross-dress and act in a campy fashion, the spectator is encouraged to laugh at the hetero normative behavior of the main characters while also recognizing the implicit sexuality of the situation.

Stealthy Couples And The Pioneering Of The Stealth Celebrity Rising

While Fantastic Beasts is nowhere near as famous as the Harry Potter franchise, it is still one of the most popular websites amongst the fandom. And it’s not just in terms of page views; the site attracts a massive amount of traffic, with one source analyzing that over 18 million people visit it every month. One of the reasons that Fantastic Beasts is so popular is because of its stealth twist. While other websites have caught on to the theme, it was J.K. Rowling’s masterful use of stealth in Fantastic Beasts that made it so special. Readers had no idea that the film’s main characters were related until the last minute, when the trilogized revealed that they were allies from childhood. And this is exactly what the writer and director desired. One of the most significant gains accomplished by Rowling throughout the success of the Pottermore series is ensuring that LGBT+ characters are not only visible but also integral to the storyline. When viewers first learn that Hermione is a lesbian and Susan is a witch, the revelation of identities is handled with an aplomb that would put most writers to shame. While a key scene in the film’s premiere plays out very much like a lesbian romantic protest, it’s a rare thing to see a major studio film give the impression that its mainstream catered to a more hetero audience.