The argument over whether or not Sesame Street characters Bert and Ernie are gay got new life after a story on TMZ.com quoted a Sesame Street writer as saying they are.
On Tuesday, TMZ published a bold headline stating, “Show writer says they’re gay!!!…Sesame Street says they’re not.”
TMZ quoted from an interview on the website Queerty in which Sesame Street writer Mark Saltzman, who wrote for Bert & Ernie, said that he wrote Bert and Ernie as a gay couple who reflected his own relationship, but did not have an agenda for doing so.
Sesame Street Workshop responded in a tweet, saying,
“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.”
They continue, “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.”
This is not the first time the issue has been raised. Speculation about Bert and Ernie’s relationship has been ongoing, and in response to a 2011 Change.org petition asking PBS to have the characters come out, Sesame Street Workshop made a Facebook post with identical wording to today’s statement.