The makers of “Sesame Street” say Bert and Ernie are not gay, despite the claim of a former writer for the show.
The statement came Tuesday after former “Sesame Street” writer Mark Saltzman gave an interview to online LGBT magazine 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 contextualize them,” Saltzman said. “I don’t think I’d know how else to write them, but as a loving couple.”
“Sesame Street” producer Sesame Workshop denies the claim, however, issuing a statement about the frequently feuding Muppet roommates:
“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 news made waves on social media, with many criticizing “Sesame Street” for seeming anti-gay.
“i’m really disappointed in sesame workshop … a gay man talked about his own experiences with writing the show and how he and his partner identified with bert and ernie … and they have to stomp on all of that,” one user tweeted.
Frank Oz, an actor and puppeteer who was the first to play Bert, sided with “Sesame Street” but added that it shouldn’t matter.
“It seems Mr. Mark Saltzman was asked if Bert & Ernie are gay. It’s fine that he feels they are. They’re not, of course. But why that question? Does it really matter? Why the need to define people as only gay?” he tweeted. “There’s much more to a human being than just straightness or gayness.”