The internet is swirling with confusion after Sesame Street’s Bert and Ernie were revealed to be gay by a former writer – only for the show to say they aren’t.
First Mark Saltzman, a longtime writer on the show, revealed that he perceived the characters to be gay, mirroring his own relationship with film editor Arnold Glassman.
Then a statement from the show said they “do not have a sexual orientation”.
Please see our statement below regarding Bert and Ernie. pic.twitter.com/6r2j0XrKYu
— Sesame Workshop (@SesameWorkshop) September 18, 2018
Some felt the idea that they couldn’t be gay because they’re puppets didn’t make any sense.
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 are in an on again/off again relationship and a muppet wedding between them is even a major feature of the most recent movie
— Jenny Nicholson (@JennyENicholson) September 19, 2018
Nope. No sexual orientation here. pic.twitter.com/pGDyH4Hmh9
— Todd Breasseale (@TBreassealeDHS) September 19, 2018
For Ernie, Bert’s just a good mate,Officials at Sesame state;No muppet creationsHave orientationsExcept for the ones who are straight.
— Limericking (@Limericking) September 19, 2018
Others did not see the need to discuss the characters’ sexuality at all.
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 (@JedediahBila) September 18, 2018
And some flat-out denied it – including Frank Oz, who voiced Bert for many years.
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
Many believe the pair have long been, and will remain, “gay icons” irrespective of what the show’s creators say.
|￣￣￣￣￣￣￣￣￣￣￣|| LET BERT AND || ERNIE BE THE || GAY ICONS WE || DESERVE! ||＿＿＿＿＿＿＿＿＿＿＿| (_____/) || (🔥ㅅ🔥) || / づ
— Blair Imani (@BlairImani) September 18, 2018
Sesame Street: BERT AND ERNIE ARE NOT GAY
The gays: pic.twitter.com/4LgWLaycg2
— 🗑🌈🐥 (@trashygaytweets) September 18, 2018
Some saw it as a kind of don’t-ask-don’t-tell situation.
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
Others felt that a model of platonic love between male friends was important in its own right.
As a young boy I was taught by other kids that teasing and bullying my male friends was how we bonded. It was painful. I’m very happy that there are male characters like Bert and Ernie that can tell each other “I love you” and mean it in a non-romantic way.
— Arin "Darin Bransan" Hanson (@egoraptor) September 19, 2018
Rather than talk about if Bert and Ernie are gay, I'm going to highlight their awesome relationship: They taught us about balance and working together. Taught us about accepting flaws and embracing differences. Most importantly that it was ok for two men to say "I love you". pic.twitter.com/cN9nehNlEh
— Jesse Cox (@JesseCox) September 18, 2018
And some felt there were other points that needed clarification.
Now that Bert and Ernie have been revealed to be gay there’s still hope that Sesame Street will admit that Big Bird is the Zodiac killer
— Bucky Isotope (@BuckyIsotope) September 19, 2018
Idc about bert and ernie's orientation. How is Elmo a toddler with his own apartment?
— Funky Bob (@FunkyBobMusic) September 18, 2018
With all this talk about Bert & Ernie's sexual orientation, why is no one concerned with Oscar's homelessness?
— Not Bill Walton (@NotBillWalton) September 18, 2018
BERT AND ERNIE ARE PUPPETS, CURSED TO NEVER FEEL EACH OTHERS TOUCH BY FORCES BEYOND THEIR CONTROL. FOCUS NOT ON THEIR RELATIONSHIP WITH EACH OTHER AND INSTEAD ON THEIR RELATIONSHIP WITH THEIR OPPRESSORS. PUPPETS, RISE MY CHILDREN
— NOT A WOLF (@SICKOFWOLVES) September 19, 2018
Writer Saltzman told lifestyle publication Queerty: “I remember one time that a column from The San Francisco Chronicle, a preschooler in the city turned to mom and asked ‘are Bert and 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 and Ernie, they were. I didn’t have any other way to contextualise them.”