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”.
Some felt the idea that they couldn’t be gay because they’re puppets didn’t make any sense.
Others did not see the need to discuss the characters’ sexuality at all.
And some flat-out denied it – including Frank Oz, who voiced Bert for many years.
Many believe the pair have long been, and will remain, “gay icons” irrespective of what the show’s creators say.
Some saw it as a kind of don’t-ask-don’t-tell situation.
Others felt that a model of platonic love between male friends was important in its own right.
And some felt there were other points that needed clarification.
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.”