Bert and Ernie: Gay or Just Friends? [OPINION]
Bert and Ernie, the adorable hand puppet duo that has been a mainstay on Sesame Street for decades are either gay...or straight.
Mark Saltzman, who began writing Bert and Ernie segments in 1984, says he depicted them as a "loving couple" based on his own life with his late partner Arnold Glassman. Saltzman began writing for Sesame Street long after Bert and Ernie were created, so his opinions about their sexual orientation are just that. Their sexuality has never been addressed on the program. Nor should it be.
Saltzman tells Queerty questions arose early on about whether Bert and Ernie were, in fact, lovers. "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," he said.
But, Sesame Street denies Bert and Ernie are gay. Sesame Workshop issued the following tweet:
That Saltzman envisioned Bert and Ernie as gay was never evident. He did not attempt to push an agenda on children, which is appreciated. As a parent who raised two kids, I've seen a lot of Sesame Street episodes through the years. Bert and Ernie were always presented in an innocent and loving way.
Bert and Ernie have been viewed as icons by some in the gay community. I, for one, have always believed them to be innocent kids. The wonderful thing about fantasy is that everyone can interpret it in a way that suits them best.
Gay or straight, Bert and Ernie have provided many hours of entertainment and joy to kids all over the world. Thank you, Sesame Street, and thank you, Mark Saltzman, for that.
Barry Richard is the host of The Barry Richard Show on 1420 WBSM New Bedford. He can be heard weekdays from noon to 3 p.m. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @BarryJRichard58. The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the author.