Sesame Street upended the celebration of LGBT activists who praised a former writer for saying he wrote Bert and Ernie, the beloved puppet pair, as a gay couple.
'Without a huge agenda... they were'
In an interview with a gay lifestyle publication, former writer Mark Saltzman said that he wrote Bert and Ernie as a gay couple. In fact, he compared them to his own gay relationship.
“I always felt that without a huge agenda, when I was writing Bert and Ernie, they were," Saltzman said, according to Queerty.
"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," he continued, referring to his former partner Arnold Glassman.
LGBT advocates immediately took to social media platform Twitter to celebrate the news, and to mock conservatives who might object.
Sesame Street confirming that Bert & Ernie are a loving gay couple is about the best news I've gotten all year ❤️🧡💛💚💙💜— redtube (@redtube) 1537296724.0
"Sesame Street" writer Mark Saltzman is confirming the iconic characters Bert and Ernie are a gay couple! #LGBT… https://t.co/NpSspmuKIr— LGBT Puerto Rico (@LGBT Puerto Rico) 1537297576.0
Ex-Sesame Street writer claims Bert and Ernie are gay. Right-wingers are freaking out about the bad example this su… https://t.co/ZKneDn026W— Adam Best (@Adam Best) 1537295938.0
The story was so popular that the terms, "Bert," "Ernie," and "Sesame Street" all trended nationally on Twitter.
Muppets 'do not have a sexual orientation'
Unfortunately for the LGBT narrative, the official account for Sesame Street tossed some cold water on the celebrations.
“As we have always said, Bert and Ernie are best friends," the statement from Sesame Street said.
Please see our statement below regarding Bert and Ernie. pic.twitter.com/6r2j0XrKYu
— Sesame Workshop (@SesameWorkshop) September 18, 2018
"They were created to teach preschoolers that people can be good friends with those who are very different from themselves,” the tweet continued. “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.”
'There's much more to a human being'
Frank Oz, the iconic puppeteer and director who developed many of the Sesame Street characters, weighed in on the controversy and agreed.
"They're not, of course," he responded. "But why that question? Does it really matter?"
It seems Mr. Mark Saltzman was asked if Bert & Ernie are gay. It's fine that he feels they are. They're not, of cou… https://t.co/DsslCMi5Bv— Frank Oz (@Frank Oz) 1537295463.0
"Why the need to define people as only gay? There's much more to a human being than just straightness or gayness," he concluded.
When challenged by an angry interlocutor online, he responded simply, "I created Bert. I know what and who he is."