It’s one of the entertainment industry’s longest running rumours, and it’s just been confirmed by someone who would know.
Former Sesame Street writer Mark Saltzman this week told LGBTIQ publication Queerty that Bert and Ernie are indeed gay lovers – apparently.
Saltzman, who started working on the show in 1984, said that he based the characters on his own relationship with his partner Arnold Glassman.
“I don’t think I’d know how else to write them, but as a loving couple,” Saltzman told Queerty.
“That’s what I had in my life, a Bert and Ernie relationship. How could it not permeate? The things that would tick off Arnie would be the things that would tick off Bert. How could it not?”
But today, much to the disappointment of many gay fans, the Sesame Workshop issued a statement denying Saltzman’s claims:
“As we have always said, Bert and Ernie are best friends. They were created to teach preschoolers 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 Sesame Workshop has repeatedly been forced to deny the gay rumours, including back in 1993, when during a conservative backlash over the suggestion that Bert and Ernie were more than “just friends”, it issued a statement which said:
“The 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 man who created Bert, puppeteer Frank Oz, took to Twitter and questioned if it really mattered if the characters were gay or not:
“It seems Mark Saltzman was asked if Bert and Ernie are gay. It’s fine that he feels that they are. They’re not, of course. But why that question? Does it really matter? Why the need to define people as only gay? There’s much more to a human being than just straightness or gayness.”
Industrial advocate Miles Heffernan from Discrimination Claims, agreed.
“They are two lovable characters who we have all grown up with, who happen to love each other very much – as best friends – and surely that’s all that really matters,” he said.
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