Bert and Ernie were ‘loving gay couple’ says former Sesame Street writer
Bert and Ernie, the iconic Sesame Street characters, were a gay couple, according to a writer who penned their words for two decades.
However, the claim brought a categorical denial from the organisation behind the children’s show, which said the puppets were just friends and did not have any sexual orientation.
Mark Saltzman, the writer, told lifestyle publication Queerty that the characters reflected experiences he had during his own relationship with the late film editor Arnold Glassman.
Mr Saltzman, who started writing for Sesame Street in 1984, told Queerty: "I always felt that, without a huge agenda, when I was writing Bert and Ernie, they were (gay). I didn’t have any other way to contextualise them. The other thing was, more than one person referred to Arnie and I as ‘Bert and Ernie’.
"I was Ernie. And Arnie as a film editor – if you thought of Bert with a job in the world, wouldn’t that be perfect? Bert with his paper clips and organisation?"
He added: "So it was the Bert and Ernie relationship, and I was already with Arnie when I came to Sesame Street. So I don’t think I’d know how else to write them but as a loving couple.
"Arnie’s OCD would create friction with how chaotic I was. And that’s the Bert and Ernie dynamic. That’s what I had in my life, a Bert and Ernie relationship. How could it not permeate?"
Mr Saltzman added that Mr Snuffleupagus, a woolly mammoth-like creature who was the best freind of Big Bird, was also "sort of gay closeted"
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 themselvesSesame Workshop
The Sesame Workshop immediately refuted the writer’s claims.
It issued a statement saying: "As we have always said, 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 idea of the characters being a gay couple has long persisted, and been repeatedly denied by Sesame Workshop.
In 1994 It said: "They are not gay, they are not straight, they are puppets. They don’t exist below the waist."
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