Are they that or not?
For decades we have wondered: are Bert and Ernie gay? The iconic "Sesame Street" duo lives together, shares a bedroom and does not seem embarrassed about taking a bath for each other, so …
The recurring question returned to our consciousness this week after a former "Sesame Street" writer who is gay, said in an interview that he wrote Bert and Ernie as a "loving couple", inspired by his own relationship with his old partner.
"I've always felt that without a huge agenda, when I was writing Bert and Ernie, they were" gay ", the author Mark Saltzman said in an interview with Queerty, a gay news and entertainment site." I had no other way to contextualise them. "
His remarks thundered over the internet and spread both indignation and happiness. "They are official !!!!!" said a message, with a picture of a smiling Bert and Ernie with beautiful wedding rings. But Sesame Workshop, the non-profit organization behind Sesame Street & # 39 ;, quickly overthrew the idea, saying in a statement that Bert and Ernie are "best friends" and because they are not puppets because they are puppets.
Mr. Saltzman, who in the years & # 39; 80 and & # 39; 90 was writer for & # 39; Sesame Street & # 39 ;, now says that his comments have been misinterpreted.
He said that he and his deceased partner, Arnold Glassman, who died in 2003, looked a lot like Bert and Ernie, opposites who found a way to love each other. "As a writer you just bring what you know in your work," he said in a telephone interview on Tuesday evening.
"In one way or another, in a stir, Bert and Ernie changed into gay people," he said. "There is a difference."
Mr. Saltzman is one of the group of writers who wrote scripts and songs for all characters from the & # 39; Sesame Street & # 39 ;.
He said that he did not limit Bert and Ernie to one sexual orientation, or none at all. Although he believes that "Sesame Street" should include a gay couple in his programming, he said it should be done with human characters, not with dolls.
As far as Bert and Ernie are concerned: "they are two men who love each other", said Mr. Saltzman. "That's who they are."
His comments were pushed back by those who shared the importance of gay and lesbian representation on television. One person wrote on Twitter that "having the flexibility to see them as gay" was good for me, and the more votes I CONFIRM THAT they ARE NOT SURE, that makes me sad. "
Later on Tuesday, Sesame Workshop issued a second statement. "Sesame Street" has always stood for acceptance and acceptance, a place where people of all cultures and backgrounds are welcome. "
That brings us back to us.
The social debate about the sexuality of Bert and Ernie has been going on for decades. The New York Times wrote about it in 1994, with the wry question: "How long have you been involved in the sex life of dolls?"
In 2011, an online petition spread and asked "Sesame Street" to allow Bert and Ernie to marry. The program responded as it did Tuesday and said that the dolls were exactly that – dolls – and had no sexual orientation.
Sexual orientation or not, Bert and Ernie symbolized gay rights when they were on the cover of The New Yorker in 2013 after the Supreme Court had legalized gay marriage. It showed the two muppets that cuddled for the TV, a moment of intimacy to celebrate a historical statement.
We may never know for sure whether Bert and Ernie are gay. And maybe that is O.K.
The dolls, said Mr. Saltzman, are an example of love, intended to help preschoolers with the problems of their young lives. A child who is staying for the first time. A boy in foster families sharing a bedroom with another boy. And yes, a toddler learns what it means to have homosexual parents.
"It's like poetry," he said. "It's what you need."