Sesame Street Responds to Claim Ernie and Bert Are Gay

Bert and Ernie officially are not a romantic couple, according to a statement from Sesame Street.

The rumor, which has persisted for years about the puppet roommates, seemed to be confirmed when a former Sesame Street writer said this week that he assumed they were a couple.

"I always felt that without a huge agenda, when I was writing Bert & Ernie, they were [a couple]," Mark Satlzman, who wrote for the children's show starting in 1984, told Queerty. "I didn't have any other way to contextualize them."

But Sesame Workshop, the nonprofit educational organization behind Sesame Street, says Bert and Ernie aren't gay — they're simply puppets.

"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," Sesame Workshop stated.

The clarification that Bert and Ernie do not have a sexual orientation came a day before Sesame Workshop followed up with another statement explaining that "Sesame Street has always stood for inclusion and acceptance. It's a place where people of all cultures and backgrounds are welcome. Bert and Ernie were created to be best friends, and to teach young children that people can get along with those who are very different from themselves."

Muppet legend Frank Oz also weighed in on the debate, suggesting that Saltzman had missed a larger point by assigning Bert and Ernie a sexuality in the first place.

"It seems Mr. Mark Salesman 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."

"I created Bert. I know what and who he is," Oz wrote.

Oz continued to go back and forth with people responding to his tweet who asked how the puppets couldn't be gay.

"When a character is created to be queer it is indeed important that the character be known as such. It is also important when a character who was not created queer, be accepted as such," Oz wrote.

He continued writing back to people, explaining that he felt he couldn't call Bert and Ernie gay because in his mind it wasn't honest.

When asked why he felt the need to identify them as "not gay," he wrote, "The same need I would feel if Bert were identified as a linebacker for the Colts. It's not honest."

"What matters is that if people see positive views of themselves and others in B & E," Oz continued.

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Eventually, Oz had enough of the Twitter debate and thanked his followers for engaging in the discussion with him.

"Been tweeting waaaaaaaaay too long. But it was good. And I learned something profound. Thanks for those who tweeted with me. Next time I would be very interested to know: If Bert and Ernie were indeed gay, would they be different than they are now?" Oz wrote.