The long-simmering debate over whether Bert and Ernie from the children's show Sesame Street are gay or just best friends gained a new chapter Tuesday, when the nonprofit behind the show insisted that, nope, these guys are just pals.
"Even though they are identified as male characters and possess many human traits and characteristics … they remain puppets and do not have a sexual orientation," Sesame Workshop tweeted.
The tweet appeared to be in response to a profile in the LGBT magazine Queerty of a former Sesame Street writer, Mark Saltzman. He told the magazine that he viewed the characters as gay when he was writing them in the 1980s and that he modeled their traits off the relationship he had with his partner, Arnold Glassman. As Saltzman told Queerty:
That Bert and Ernie might not be gay upset people on social media Tuesday.
Some people pointed out that Kermit the Frog and Miss Piggy clearly had a romantic relationship. But here's the caveat: While Kermit, created in the 1950s by puppeteer Jim Henson, has sometimes appeared on Sesame Street, he and Miss Piggy are really characters from a separate TV series, The Muppet Show. It aired in the '70s and early '80s, and the characters have been featured numerous times in movies and TV shows since then.
People have long speculated that Bert and Ernie are gay. When a ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court legalized gay marriage in 2013, the New Yorker released a cover featuring the two cuddling on a couch.
The debate continues.