Gay Sesame Street writer says he thinks of Bert and Ernie as a gay couple
An Emmy award-winning writer who worked on Sesame Street has revealed that he sees Bert and Ernie as a gay couple, saying he didn’t have “any other way to contextualise them.”
When Mark Saltzman was asked in an interview with Queery if he had thought of the Sesame Street characters as a gay couple, he said: “I always felt that without a huge agenda, when I was writing Bert and Ernie, they were.”
He also revealed that some people in his social circle referred to himself and his partner, film editor Arnold Glassman, as Bert and Ernie.
He said that he wrote them as a loving couple, and felt that he didn’t have any other way to write them, as he was already in a relationship with Glassman by the time he came to Sesame Street.
“The things that would tick off Arnie (his partner) would be the things that would tick off Bert,” he added.
Still, he also noted that he never would have told the head writer that he was basing Bert & Ernie on himself and Glassman.
However, in a statement posted on Twitter, the Sesame Workshop, which is behind the show, has insisted that Bert and Ernie are just “best friends,” saying they “do not have a sexual orientation.”
Bert and Ernie are considered by many in the LGBT+ community to be gay icons, with many adopting them as a symbolic gay couple.
After same-sex marriage was legalised in New York, fans set up a petition on change.org asking for the show’s creators to have Bert and Ernie get married on screen.
The show released a statement in response, saying that the characters were “best friends” and were “created to teach pre-schoolers that people can be good friends with those who are very different from themselves.
“Even though they are identified as male characters and possess many human traits and characteristics (as most Sesame Street Muppets do), they remain puppets, and do not have a sexual orientation,” the statement added.
Similarly, in 1994, Sesame Street Workshop boss Gary Knell said that Bert and Ernie “are not gay, they are not straight, they are puppets.”
Despite this, speculation about the nature of Bert and Ernie’s relationship has not died down.
In 2015, the pair were at the centre of another controversy, after a cake was ordered in Northern Ireland sporting an image of Bert and Ernie along with the words “Support Gay Marriage.”
The bakers refused to bake the cake, and said that they run their business “according to Christian values and beliefs.”