On My Soapbox: Are they? Why ask?

Bert and Ernie are just friends and should be treated as such.

Last week, the internet exploded after a former writer for Sesame Street said he wrote Bert and Ernie as a “loving couple.”

This sparked a long-time rumor of if the orange and yellow felt friends are a gay couple.

My opinion, no they are not – never have and never will be.

The former writer, Mark Saltzman, said he wrote the characters from inspiration of him and his own partner. He also said he saw Bert and Ernie as gay without any kind of agenda.

“They were gay . . . I didn’t have any other way to contextualize them,” he said to Queerty, a gay news and entertainment site.

Here’s my problem. Why does it matter when they are characters on a show aimed at teaching young children about letters, numbers, friendship and values. Sesame Street is known for tackling tough issues and our world’s society, but there has never been a need to promote any type of sexuality – straight, gay or whatever.

First, the characters are supposed to be an example of friendship. They show that two people can be different and be best friends.

Second, what about the characters makes them gay? They share an apartment, not a bed. They don’t hold hands or run through fields of flowers together. They also do not kiss or do anything of a sexual nature.

I read an article that said because they take baths together they are gay. Athletes shower together all the time. I understand it’s not exactly the same as being in the tub, but it’s the same concept.

Finally – at least for now – this is a children’s show. The only reason the topic of Bert and Ernie being straight or gay is because some overzealous adult brought it into their child’s world.

I promise you that my children are not worrying about Bert or Ernie’s personal lives outside of singing and roaming around on Sesame Street. Neither Jasmine nor Tiana have ever asked me where Ernie’s girlfriend is. If they do, the answer is, “I’m not sure. I guess she’s not on this episode.”

If they ask if the two are gay, my response will be, “why and where did you hear that?” Then we will have a talk that I’m not ready to have with a 7 and 2 year-old.

Sesame Street has encountered everything from death to incarcerated parents to HIV to autism and much more.

Fortunately, the writers have not tried to taint our youth with agendas on sexuality. I am not homophobic, nor am I bashing anyone, I just think Mr. Saltzman and anyone else (such as Time Magazine) who looks at Bert and Ernie as gay need to find something better to do with their lives.

They are best friends. Furthermore, they are puppets, why do they need sexual orientation?

In today’s atmosphere, I’m surprised nobody has chastised them because of their felt color, one is dark and one is bright.

I’m going to get off my soapbox now, and watch some NFL football. Hopefully, I can finally watch the Redskins play on TV. They have the Greenbay Packers this week, so it should be nationally televised right?

“A friend is someone who gives you total freedom to be yourself.”

- Jim Morrison

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