A former writer for the show had previously said the characters reflected his relationship with film editor Arnold Glassman
Sesame Street have denied claims the characters Bert and Ernie are gay, saying they don’t have a sexual orientation.
The two Muppets, who have also appeared in The Muppet Show, regularly appear in skits together on the show. They live together in a basement apartment and share a bedroom, but sleep in separate beds.
Former Sesame Street writer Mark Saltzman recently said in an interview that speculation about the puppets was correct and they were more than just friends. “I always felt that without a huge agenda, when I was writing Bert & Ernie, they were [gay],” he said. “I didn’t have any other way to contextualise them.”
He added that the characters’ relationship reflected his own with film editor Arnold Glassman. “I was Ernie,” Saltzman said. I look more Bert-ish. And Arnie as a film editor—if you thought of Bert with a job in the world, wouldn’t that be perfect? Bert with his paper clips and organization? And I was the jokester. So it was the Bert & Ernie relationship, and I was already with Arnie when I came to Sesame Street. So I don’t think I’d know how else to write them, but as a loving couple.”
However, a statement has now been issued by Sesame Workshop – the non-profit educational organisation behind the popular children’s show – on the matter. “As we have always said, Bert and Ernie are best friends,” it read.
One of the show’s creators, Frank Oz, has also weighed in on the debate. “It seems Mr. Mark Saltzman was asked if Bert & Ernie are gay,” he wrote on Twitter.
“It’s fine that he feels 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.”
“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.”