The production company and creator behind Sesame Street’s Bert and Ernie said Tuesday, the couple is not gay, refuting a comment by a show writer that suggested the characters are homosexual.
“As we have always said, Bert and Ernie are best friends,” Sesame Workshop said in a statement. “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.”
The confusion began when Sesame Street writer Mark Saltzman – who is homosexual -- said he viewed Bert and Ernie as gay when he wrote scripts.
“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?,’” Saltzman told a gay new website. “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.”
Saltzman said he viewed he and his boyfriend as Bert and Ernie.
But Frank Oz, the famous puppeteer who helped create the duo and voiced Bert, said the duo are not gay.
“It seems Mr. Mark Saltzman was asked if Bert & Ernie are gay,” Oz wrote on Twitter. “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.”
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
Michael Foust is a freelance writer. Visit his blog, MichaelFoust.com.
Photo courtesy: Getty Images/Matthew Simmons/Stringer
Michael Foust has covered the intersection of faith and news for 20 years. His stories have appeared in Baptist Press, Christianity Today, The Christian Post, The Leaf-Chronicle, the Toronto Star and the Knoxville News-Sentinel.