“He’s lived with a man for 31 years and wears turtlenecks and saddle shoes, and rumors of his homosexuality have swirled for years. But no one’s ever heard directly from Sesame Street’s Bert on his sexuality, until now… sort of.”
That’s how Fox News starts its story on Sesame Street’s Bert “coming out” via a tweet this summer. And while gay rights activists have been quick to Baptize Bert a homosexual, close examination of the story shows Bert’s “coming out” tweet was more a case of poor language than a confession of sexuality.
The rumors gained traction in June, when the Sesame Street staple tweeted about Mr. T’s hair and used language some consider ambiguous:
Ever notice how similar my hair is to Mr. T’s? The only difference is mine is a little more ‘mo,’ a little less ‘hawk.’
Some, including gay rights proponents, have since taken the “mo” part to mean homosexual.
At the time of the tweet, the website Buzzfeed.com covered the message with a headline saying, “Confirmed: Bert From Sesame Street is Gay.”
London’s The Independent had this to say yesterday:
The clues were always there. Bert and Ernie have been living together for 31 years. They like to wear flamboyant “his & his” pyjamas. And (here’s the clincher) they tuck themselves up together each night in the same bed.
“Being sent right in the middle of Pride Month, it seemed like a fun coded message to us ‘mos, and one that I was happy to pick up on,” wrote Ed Kennedy of the gay pop culture site AfterElton.com on Monday.
For Jarrett Barrios, president of the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD), the tweet may be just another example of Sesame’s growing friendliness toward the LGTB community.
“As more and more loving and committed gay and lesbian couples begin families, it’s important that their children see representations of their families on their favorite shows,” he told the Los Angeles Times. “‘Sesame Street’ has a long history of teaching children about diversity and acceptance, and I don’t expect that our community will be left out of that education.”
The rumors about Bert’s sexuality, however, are just that. According to Sesame spokeswoman Ellen Lews, Bert and Ernie don’t have a sexuality, and the intention was never to “out” Bert.
“Our writer had no intention of implying anything by the tweet, no agenda and no idea that it would be interpreted any other way except that the ‘A-Team’ movie was out and Bert has, like, a mini-mohawk, so her intention was just a fun way to split up the word just to imply that his hairstyle is a shorter derivative of a longer Mohawk that Mr. T in the A-team wore,” Lewis told FoxNews.com.
Kennedy isn’t convinced: “If Sesame Street needs to push Bert back into the closet he shares with Ernie (in the bedroom with the twin beds), that’s fine. We know the truth. *wink-wink*”