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Bert and Ernie - Officially not Gay...

...or anything for that matter. Sesame Street Workshop recently made a statement saying that Bert and Ernie were just  'Best Friends' and outing them as not having a sexual orientation as they are 'puppets'. The full statement, which can be found on their Facebook page reads as follows:
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.
The statement is a response to a recent online petition and Facebook page requesting that Bert and Ernie be allowed to get married on Sesame Street as a way of supporting LBGT teens. The petition’s creator, Lair Scott, was inspired by the “It Gets Better” series of videos launched by columnist Dan Savage.

That's the history of this latest Bert and Ernie saga if you wish to do your own research.


And now for my commentary...

If you're looking for a thoughtful piece about why Bert and Ernie shouldn't be officially identified as gay I thought Graeme McMillan's blog, Official: Bert and Ernie Aren’t Gay (And Why They Shouldn’t Be), gives a compelling and well thought out argument.

From my point of view I'm just happy that Sesame Street Workshop isn't bowing to the pressure. Bert and Ernie just aren't gay, even if there are many hints that possibly suggest otherwise. Such as Bert and Ernie taking a bath together.

If the characters don't have any sexual orientation then taking a bath together has no real underlying meaning. They could be just saving water... they're obviously not that rich since they live in a one bedroom house. (take this paragraph as tongue in cheek. I'm not, for a second, trying to make serious argument).

However looking at it from the other point of view, if they're not gay, then does that mean they're straight? In 40 plus years I've never seen either of them have so much as a crush on any female character. I've never seen Ernie ask Bert to spend an evening out because Ernie's bringing home a hot date.

Perhaps there's something to this idea that they have no sexual orientation?

Then again perhaps there's another scenario. Some observers believe Bert and Ernie behave like an old married couple. Maybe they secretly got married years ago?

But if that were true why do they sleep in separate beds? (I hear you ask).

Well that's not unprecedented for married couples. Watchers of the seventies hit TV show Faulty Towers will know (if my memory serves me correctly) that the uptight Basil Faulty slept in the same room but in a separate bed from his wife Sybil.

It's something else to think about.

At this point I have to admit this isn't quite the direction I thought this article would go. I really just wanted to make a point about people projecting gay relationships onto male character friendships that haven't really been portrayed as gay. The classic examples, Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson, Batman and Robin.

It's like the Seinfeld episode where Jerry protests that he's not gay (not that there's anything wrong with that) just because he's clean, neat and organised.

Please stop doing that. Stop trying to superimpose 'gayness' onto characters and people that just aren't simply because they display a few 'gay' characteristics from time to time and could be seen as gay.

I'd much rather see true gay characters developed for TV, movies, fiction etc. than have this 'retro-fitting' of established characters into a gay orientation. Retro-fitting 'gay' does nothing to help the acceptance of people who identify as such. If anything it inflames the people who struggle to accept gay relationships.

The TV series Modern Family, whilst I wouldn't say the gay characters are necessarily typical of gay men, at least makes an attempt to describe a real gay relationship in an 'average' family, living in the suburbs context. In terms of advancing the LBGT agenda for acceptance I feel that's a much better way to go.

I'd rather Bert and Ernie remain as best friends and, if Sesame Street ever did want to introduce a gay relationship... perhaps it would be better to do it with their human cast rather than the puppets - since people do have sexual orientation.

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