On Tuesday afternoon, Sesame Street’s Bert & Ernie began trending on Twitter. What’s the deal? Why have these characters’ names raked in over 15k mentions on Twitter in mere hours?
The Sesame Street characters are trending because of a new interview with a former writer on the show, who says that Bert and Erie are gay.
In an interview with the LGBTQ lifestyle website Queerty, writer Mark Saltzman said, “I remember one time that a column from The San Francisco Chronicle, a preschooler in the city turned to mom and asked ‘Are Bert and Ernie lovers?’ That coming from a preschooler was fun, and that got passed around, and everyone had their chuckle and went back to it.”
He continued, “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. The other thing was, more than one person referred to Arnie and I as ‘Bert and Ernie.'”
Hours after the article was released, however, Sesame Workshop denied what Saltzman said. In a statement on Twitter, they wrote, “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 posess many human traits and characteristics (as most Sesame Street Muppets do), they remain puppets, and do not have a sexual orientation.”
Frank Oz, a puppeteer for the show, also denied Saltzman’s statements, writing, “It seems Mr. Mark Saltzman was asked if Bert & Ernie are gay. 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.”
For decades, the question of whether or not Bert and Ernie are gay has been up for debate. While Bert and Ernie always slept in separate beds, they lived together in the basement apartment of 123 Sesame Street.