The streets are talking about the relationship between Bert and Ernie from Sesame Street.
Ever since the children’s show’s debut in 1969, fans of all ages have grown to love the duo. However, in a recent interview, writer, Mark Saltzman, suggested that they were a gay couple.
“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,” Mark shared with Queerty. “I didn’t have any other way to contextualize them.”
Mark unveiled that the characters were inspired by his same-sex relationship with the film editor, Arnold Glassman. He joked that he was Ernie while Arnold was Bert.
“I was already with Arnie when I came to Sesame Street. So I don’t think I’d know how else to write them, but as a loving couple,” he explained. “I wrote sketches…Arnie’s OCD would create friction with how chaotic I was. And that’s the Bert & Ernie dynamic.”
“I will say that I would never have said to the head writer, ‘oh, I’m writing this, this is my partner and me.’ But those two, Snuffalupagus, because he’s the sort of clinically depressed Muppet…you had characters that appealed to a gay audience,” Mark continued. “And Snuffy, this depressed person nobody can see, that’s sort of Kafka! It’s sort of gay closeted too.”
Fans may likewise recollect that in July 2013, The New Yorker magazine distributed a representation of the two roomies soon after the Supreme Court struck down the Defense of Marriage Act.
Sesame Street continues to bring new characters into the family-friendly series.
In 2017, viewers were introduced to Julia, another puppet with autism.
“I think the big discussion right at the start was, ‘How do we do this? How do we talk about autism?'” writer Christine Ferraro said on 60 Minutes. “It’s tricky because autism is not one thing, because it is different for every single person who has autism. There is an expression that goes, ‘If you’ve met one person with autism, you’ve met one person with autism.'”
Sesame Workshop, the non-profit organization behind the long-running series is denying these claims.
“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,” the organization said in a statement. “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.”