After Nickelodeon shared a celebratory Pride Month tweet featuring SpongeBob SquarePants wearing a rainbow-colored tie on Saturday afternoon, users online believed it was the network’s way of quietly announcing that the TV cartoon character was gay.
The tweet read, “Celebrating #Pride with the LGBTQ+ community and their allies this month and every month Rainbow,” and along with SpongeBob, included photos of transgender actor Michael D. Cohen, who plays Schwoz Schwartz on Henry Danger, and Korra from the Avatar spin-off show Legend of Korra, who’s in a same-sex relationship in the series, are presented in a rainbow color collage, appearing as if they are all part of the same LGBTQ community.
Nickelodeon’s tweet quickly went viral and caused “SpongeBob Gay” to trend nationally on Twitter. While some users online believe the cartoon is bi-sexual, many fans of the show believe SpongeBob was clearly gay all along.
Numerous people commented on how Nickelodeon turned off the comments section on Twitter. While the kids’ network doesn’t explicitly say the SpongeBob is gay in their viral tweet, it’s clear that Nickelodeon didn’t want any hateful messages to be tagged to their post.
The Creator of ‘SpongeBob SquarePants’ Previously Stated the Cartoon was Asexual
In 2005, Stephen Hillenburg, the mastermind behind the popular TV cartoon character stated that he was neither straight nor gay. Just because SpongeBob spends a lot of time with his best friend Patrick Starfish, it does not mean the series is promoting a homosexual lifestyle.
“It doesn’t have anything to do with what we’re trying to do,” Hillenburg said. “We never intended them to be gay. I consider them to be almost asexual. We’re just trying to be funny and this has got nothing to do with the show.”
While the conversation continues to be a hot topic of discussion, Hillenburg never gave the controversial matter that much attention. He said that there are “more important issues to worry about.”
Korra’s Sexuality was Written Into the ‘Legend of Korra’ Series
Instead of having viewers merely guess at Korra’s sexuality, the show’s creators, Bryan Konietzko and Mike DiMartino, wrote her same-sex relationship into the series. In 2014, the finale’s last scene showed Korra and her friend Asami were more than just friends.
Konitezko wrote in a blog post, “You can celebrate it, embrace it, accept it, get over it, or whatever you feel the need to do, but there is no denying it. That is the official story.”
“It is long overdue that our media (including children’s media) stops treating non-heterosexual people as nonexistent, or as something merely to be mocked,” Konietzko wrote. “I’m only sorry it took us so long to have this kind of representation in one of our stories.”
Michael D. Cohen Transitioned From Female to Male Nearly 20 Years Ago
Nearly 20 years ago, Cohen transitioned from male to female. He told TIME magazine, “I was misgendered at birth. I identify as male, and I am proud that I have had a transgender experience — a transgender journey.”
Cohen said the reason he decided to go public as being transgender was that “this crazy backlash and oppression of rights is happening right in front of me. I can’t stay silent. The level of — let’s be polite — misunderstanding around trans issues is so profound and so destructive. When you disempower one population, you disempower everybody.”