The eternal question remains: are Bert and Ernie from Sesame Street a gay couple? Many members of the LGBTQ community hold up the pair as icons of homosexual love who snuck past bigoted censors to show children a healthy gay relationship on television. Others, however, have long purported that Bert and Ernie are simply friends who live together as roommates. Still others insist the pair are puppets, and as such, have no sexuality or backstory involving their romantic feelings.
The debate got a new twist on September 16, 2018, when Mark Saltzman, a writer for Sesame Street who joined the team in 1984, revealed that, though he never made it explicit, he always wrote the characters as a gay couple.
In an interview with Queerty, Saltzman, himself a gay man, revealed that Bert and Ernie were in a relationship...at least in his mind:
I remember one time that a column from The San Francisco Chronicle, a preschooler in the city turned to mom and asked "are Bert & Ernie lovers?" And that, coming from a preschooler was fun. And that got passed around, and everyone had their chuckle and went back to it. And 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.
Finally ! Bert and Ernie are coming out! Good for you guys! #BertandErnie https://t.co/7D4rmFgZKz— Kati 🖖🏻 (@Kati 🖖🏻)1537281806.0
Though Saltzman's statement was greeted with joy by many around the world, Sesame Street quickly wrote their own statement asserting that, no matter what a writer for the show felt, Bert and Ernie are just felt; they have no sexual impulses, gay, straight, or otherwise.
In response to Mark Saltzman's comments, Sesame Workshop, the organization behind #SesameStreet, came out with its… https://t.co/FQmX8A5jbq— Hollywood Reporter (@Hollywood Reporter)1537297507.0
Part of their statement reads:
As we have always said, Bert and Ernie are best friends. They were created to teach preschoolers that people can be good friends with those who are very different from themselves. Even though they are identified as male characters and possess many human traits and characteristics (as most Sesame Street Muppets do), they remain puppets, and do not have a sexual orientation.
Saltzman's statement and Sesame Street's subsequent disagreement has sparked a fierce online debate.
*Warning: Many of these opinions feature explicit language.*
Suddenly I'm hearing "Why do Bert and Ernie have to be defined by sexuality?" Funny, when people or characters are… https://t.co/t2Ihsf9x7s— michael musto (@michael musto)1537326417.0
Many thought Sesame Street's excuse lacked credibility due to the relationship between Kermit and Ms. Piggy.
@SesameWorkshop Nope. No sexual orientation here. https://t.co/pGDyH4Hmh9— Todd Breasseale (@Todd Breasseale)1537318108.0
Look, Bert and Ernie’s relationship was WAY healthier than Kermit and Miss Piggy’s.— Jennifer Wright (@Jennifer Wright)1537307364.0
If Bert and Ernie are not gay they're not gay but your excuse can't be that they're puppets. Kermit and Miss Piggy… https://t.co/PHNt8AaJfU— Jenny Nicholson (@Jenny Nicholson)1537315234.0
Meanwhile, the case for Bert and Ernie being a couple was being made in many ways, some more snarky than others.
It’s 2018 and the internet is actually debating Bert and Ernie’s relationship, so I’ll just leave this here: https://t.co/Y7Bgo88Sh5— Kelly Canuck🍁 (@Kelly Canuck🍁)1537322482.0
Listen, Bert and Ernie fucking women was part of my childhood and you can't just take that away.— Sandra Newman (@Sandra Newman)1537312500.0
BERT AND ERNIE ARE PUPPETS, CURSED TO NEVER FEEL EACH OTHERS TOUCH BY FORCES BEYOND THEIR CONTROL. FOCUS NOT ON THE… https://t.co/5EalYli52w— NOT A WOLF (@NOT A WOLF)1537329701.0
ARE WE REALLY GONNA SLEEP ON THIS https://t.co/69xuT0yLXW— Klaudia Amenábar // gay depressed Snuffy is my kin (@Klaudia Amenábar // gay depressed Snuffy is my kin)1537247291.0
The renewed interest in Bert and Ernie's relationship also shed some light on the other Muppets and their unexplained behaviors.
While you are all debating whether Bert and Ernie are gay you are all forgetting that Gonzo, a puppet from space, actively fucks chickens.— TechnicallyRon (@TechnicallyRon)1537360546.0
We already knew Bert and Ernie were a couple. Can we please move on to other more important conspiracies? Theory:… https://t.co/dwsSKzpWkh— Ol’ QWERTY Bastard (@Ol’ QWERTY Bastard)1537308728.0
Idc about bert and ernie's orientation. How is Elmo a toddler with his own apartment?— Funky Bob (@Funky Bob)1537304633.0
What has become of us, America?
English friend: What's going on in America Me: Sexual predators are trying to force women back in time and oppress… https://t.co/nFpsCZaXSf— AmberTozer (@AmberTozer)1537333541.0
Perhaps sensing they were coming out on the wrong side of history, Sesame Street issued a follow-up statement, clarifying the purpose of Bert and Ernie:
Please see our most recent statement regarding Bert and Ernie below. https://t.co/gWTF2k1y83— Sesame Workshop (@Sesame Workshop)1537314157.0
And, to be fair, many people on both sides of the "are they gay?" argument felt that their sexual orientation didn't need to be explicit.
As a young boy I was taught by other kids that teasing and bullying my male friends was how we bonded. It was painf… https://t.co/LSOaBRlUwX— Arin "Darin Bransan" Hanson (@Arin "Darin Bransan" Hanson)1537315431.0
People do realize that Bert and Ernie are muppets and not real people, right? Do we really need to debate their sexual preferences?— Jedediah Bila (@Jedediah Bila)1537304505.0
Yes of course Ernie and Bert are a couple. Maybe we lose something by blatantly saying it though - they're a living… https://t.co/NIePAyDyb9— Matthew Denby (@Matthew Denby)1537269953.0
At the end of the day, the nature of Bert and Ernie's relationship will likely remain a personal opinion. And that's okay, because people who disagree can still get along, live in an apartment together, spend all their time together, grow old, and never look for any other romantic partners.
My dad worked for Henson for years when I was little. I always understood that Bert and Ernie were a couple. If you… https://t.co/wE9WGGydOz— Susie Cagle (@Susie Cagle)1537305132.0