Sesame Street: Bert And Ernie Aren’t Gay, Really

Sesame Street: Bert And Ernie Aren’t Gay, Really
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The Children’s Television Workshop would like to stress: no homo.

No, I’m not kidding. Earlier this morning, the Children’s Television Workshop — producers of the long-running Sesame Street children’s series — released a statement reiterating that the two iconic characters “do not portray a gay couple, and there are no plans for them to do so in the future”.

“They are puppets, not humans,” the Children’s Television Workshop stressed, to the immense disappointment of Bert shippers everywhere.

The statement follows after long-term Sesame Street song and scriptwriter Mark Saltzman told Queerty that he wrote Bert and Ernie’s relationship based off his own partnership with Arnold Glassman, the late documentary maker and film editor.

Ok, so we have to address—that’s the big question, right? In the writer’s room, you’re all adults. Were you thinking of Bert & Ernie as a gay couple? Did that question ever come up?

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. I didn’t have any other way to contextualise them. The other thing was, more than one person referred to Arnie & I as “Bert & Ernie.”

“So it was the Bert & Ernie relationship, and 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,” Saltzman said.

As Variety reports, the Children’s Television Workshop has issued denials about the muppet duo’s sexuality before. “Bert and Ernie are characters who help demonstrate to children that despite their differences, they can be good friends,” a press release from the studio said back in 2003.

Their latest statement, which says Bert and Ernie “are identified as male characters and possess many human traits”, can be read in full below.


  • I’m not sure whether to laugh or cry at the fact that we’ve gotten to the point of discussing puppet gender politics.

    • Or why it’s big enough news for a video games website (as per their own description on wiki) given its puppets and not game related at all.

      • This, I’ve got to see. I imagine a whole bunch of whining snowflakes excoriating a company that makes a TV show for children because it refuses to give two puppets a sexual orientation.

        • I don’t know why you got downvoted cause it’s pretty accurate.
          I’m all for inclusiveness and creating diverse gay characters for children to understand at a young age that homosexuality is normal.

          But they’re actually getting called homophobes for standing by the fact that Bert and Ernie are best friends and are not sexually attracted to each-other.

        • The start isn’t so bad, but it turns into a bonfire a few pages down. After that, it descends into the [email protected]#k you’d expect.

          Personally, I don’t care either way. Any kid that watches the show isn’t going to care, and is going to make up their own minds if the two of em are a couple or not. Those politicising it are doing it for their own agendas though, which is a shame.

          It could have been a great platform for discussion on the topic in regards minors, instead it… didn’t.

  • Do I think that Bert and Ernie should be a gay couple? No. Don’t sexualise the puppets.
    Do I think that Sesame Street should have gay representation? Isn’t Alan gay?

    • There is a precedent for seaseme puppets with an explicit sexuality. Oscar and grundgetta the grouches were an explicit boyfriend girlfriend couple complete with cutsey names for each other. The argument that the production company have made that Bert and Ernie are puppets and as such can’t, or shouldn’t have a sexual orientation as part of their character is undone by this example.

  • LOL, Saltzman can say what he wants, but he didn’t create or write for the original characters. From Wikipedia:
    “Bert and Ernie were built by Don Sahlin from a simple design scribbled by Jim Henson, creator of The Muppets. Initially, Henson performed Bert and Oz performed Ernie, but after just one day of rehearsal, they switched characters. The original idea was to show that even though two people can have totally different characteristics, they can still be good friends. According to writer Jon Stone, the relationship between Bert and Ernie reflected the real-life friendship between Henson and Oz.”

  • I think the issue is that this had to be officially addressed. Why couldn’t it just have been either way and to that point as for why does it matter? It shouldn’t matter if they were gay or just really good friends.

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