While the majority of us as children never thought about the love lives of Sesame Street characters, even though we all knew Miss Piggy was besotted with Kermit the Frog, yesterday a writer from the show announced that 'roommates' Bert and Ernie were a 'loving couple'.
Speaking to Queerty, Mark Salzman revealed that during the time he was writing Bert and Ernie he was having a similar relationship with a man and that's the only way he knew how to relate to Bert and Ernie's relationship. The writer revealed that it was an inside joke and more than one person likened Bert and Ernie to Mark and his partner Al.
I always felt that without a huge agenda, when I was writing Bert & Ernie, they were. I didn’t have any other way to contextualize them.
Hours after the statement was made Sesame Street denied the claims that Bert and Ernie were a gay couple.
Please see our most recent statement regarding Bert and Ernie below. pic.twitter.com/gWTF2k1y83
— Sesame Workshop (@SesameWorkshop) September 18, 2018
The company claim that while the characters are both males, share a bedroom and live together, "they remain puppets and do not have a sexual orientation". Now Twitter has begun to question the integrity of Sesame Street and why Bert and Ernie are being denied representation.
I love all these homophobes upset about Bert & Ernie being gay because it's "unnatural" have no problem with a 8ft 2in bird, a frog who got a pig pregnant, & a green monster with no visible nose living in a garbage can. Bert & Ernie are the most normal characters on Sesame Street
— Dana Goldberg (@DGComedy) September 18, 2018
Bert and Ernie been coming to thanksgiving together every year without incident and now y'all wanna rock the boat
— Desus Nice (@desusnice) September 18, 2018
I DON'T CARE IF BERT AND ERNIE ARE GAY I JUST WANT THEM TO BE HAPPY!!!!
— billy eichner (@billyeichner) September 18, 2018
Suddenly I'm hearing "Why do Bert and Ernie have to be defined by sexuality?" Funny, when people or characters are identified as straight, which happens about 100 thousand times a week, that's just fine. And I heard no complaints about Miss Piggy lustily chasing after Kermit.
— michael musto (@mikeymusto) September 19, 2018
— ☮️ Another Woke Grandma (@surelyimlost) September 19, 2018
While the argument rages on, others are wondering why a children's show needs to be sexualised in the first place. Comments are focusing on emphasizing gay relationships rather than straight as heterosexual relationships are assumed within the show. While Bert and Ernie never act overtly sexual, Miss Piggy was an early contender for the MeToo movement as she frequently harassed Kermit the Frog on The Muppet Show. Kermit was a regular on Sesame Street.
In one early scene from Sesame Street Bert tells Ernie he's in love with him and whether or not that's romantic love, it's important that men can be represented as being in a healthy, loving and homosocial friendship.
It’s 2018 and the internet is actually debating Bert and Ernie’s relationship, so I’ll just leave this here: pic.twitter.com/Y7Bgo88Sh5
— Kelly Canuck? (@KellyCanuckTO) September 19, 2018
Heterosexual relationships are commonplace in young adult and children's fiction but gay romantic relationships, whether it be a kiss, a simple holding of hands or a coming out moment, are considered radical and up for public debate. Frank Oz, the puppeteer behind Bert, denies that Bert was gay. Oz acted as Bert but did not write the source material.
It seems Mr. Mark Saltzman was asked if Bert & Ernie are gay. It's fine that he feels they are. They're not, of course. But why that question? Does it really matter? Why the need to define people as only gay? There's much more to a human being than just straightness or gayness.
— Frank Oz (@TheFrankOzJam) September 18, 2018
Actor Michael Rapaport shared a volatile rant on Twitter about the puppets not being gay and referring to the issue as being created by "hipster freaked out fucks":
— MichaelRapaport (@MichaelRapaport) September 18, 2018
Bert and Ernie have become gay icons since landing on screen back in 1969 however, Sesame Street refused to accept a petition, signed by thousands of people, to see the puppets married back in 2011.