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Bert and Ernie ‘best friends’ without sexual orientation, says Sesame Street

Bert and Ernie ‘best friends’ without sexual orientation, says Sesame Street

Bert and Ernie (Photo: See-ming Lee / Flickr)

Days after the Sesame Street scriptwriter said two of the show’s central characters, Bert and Ernie, were a couple, the show has countered.

‘As we have always said, Bert and Ernie are best friends’, Sesame Street said in a statement posted to Twitter.

‘While they are identified as male characters and possess many human traits and characteristics, they remain puppets, and do not have a sexual orientation’ the statement said.

Sesame Street also said it ‘stood for inclusion and acceptance’. Bert and Ernie were created to ‘teach young children that people can get along with those who are very different from themselves’.

Earlier this week, Emmy-winning scriptwriter who worked on Sesame Street, Mark Saltzman, revealed he considers two of the show’s central characters, Bert and Ernie, as a couple.

Speaking to Queerty, Saltzman was asked if he thought of the pair as gay. He said he had no other way to ‘contextualize’ them.

‘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?”’ he said. ‘And that, coming from a preschooler was fun.’

‘That got passed around, and everyone had their chuckle and went back to it,’ he added. ‘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 contextualize them.’

Saltzman told Queerty the pair’s shenanigans were often inspired by his real-life relationship. Saltzman also said, however, he never ‘said to the head writer, “oh, I’m writing this, this is my partner and me.”’

‘Gay icons we deserve’

Netizens, however, were keen to point that not all Sesame Street muppets were without sexual orientation. The show features plenty of heterosexual characters. This includes the Count, who proposes to his girlfriend in one episode.

Puppeteer Frank Oz, who operated Miss Piggy in the show, said ‘There’s more to a human being than just straightness or gayness’.

Meanwhile, journalist Jordan Crucchiola flagged it as a chance to appreciate asexual relationships.

Finally, others just wanted Bert and Ernie to continue as gay icons.

The New Yorker featured Bert and Ernie watching television together on its front cover to mark the USA’s Supreme Court decision to legalize same-sex unions.