In a move that allows the show’s producers to catch up with the rest of us, a top-level executive at Sesame Street has declared that beloved characters Bert & Ernie are gay…if viewers want them to be.
Brown Johnson, Executive Vice President of Sesame Workshop, the company that owns Sesame Street, has said that the characters are open to interpretation as a gay couple. “People can think whatever they want [about Bert and Ernie]. You want to think they’re gay? Ok. You want to think they’re not gay? They’re not gay.”
The move marks an evolution on the part of Sesame Workshop, which had previously denied that Bert & Ernie have sexuality since they are puppets. Speculation over their relationship has long dogged the characters. Last year, the conversation came to a head after longtime Sesame Street writer Mark Saltzman told Queerty that he always wrote them as a loving gay couple based on his own relationship. Muppet performer Frank Oz, originator of Bert, after an initial denial, even came to endorsing the relationship.
“A last thought: If Jim [Henson] and I had created Bert and Ernie as gay characters,” Oz said, “they would be inauthentic coming from two straight men. However, I have now learned that many view them as representative of a loving gay relationship. And that’s pretty wonderful. Thanks for helping me understand.”