Why Bert & Ernie Shouldn’t Get Gay Married

August 11, 2011 | By Brent Almond | LGBT STUFF, POP CULTURE

Yesterday the news cycle was peppered with the anecdotal silliness of a petition started to let Bert and Ernie get married. Today’s response is brought to you by the letters A through C.

A: I of course wholeheartedly agree with the idea of having LGBT characters / same-sex couples represented on Sesame Street. I’ve been watching children’s television pretty much daily for the last year, and I’ve only seen one fleeting reference to two dad or two mom families anywhere. (The video below runs occasionally on Nick Jr. The family in question shows up at the 1:11 mark.)

The thing is, non-platonic relationships are extremely rare among Sesame Street’s furry folk. True, Kermit has had a decades-long tumultuous affair with Miss Piggy, but that’s only been in the context of The Muppet Show. The characters on Sesame Street, other than (kind of) having a gender, don’t even really have specific ethnicity. Except for The Count, who I guess is Transylvanian.

Sesame Workshop CEO Gary Knell said in 2007, “[Bert & Ernie] are not gay, they are not straight, they are puppets…they do not exist below the waist.” (Guess he hadn’t seen the above photo, pulled from Bert and Ernie’s Facebook page…)

The Muppets are meant to teach basic concepts like friendship, sharing and conflict resolution, so I say they keep it that way. Romance can really complicate things, even particularly for adults.

B: It’s high time, however, that Sesame Street had a same-sex human couple. Or even just a gay man or lesbian. They’ve had every race and physical handicap represented on the show, and even an inter-racial couple. There are currently two married couples on the show: Susan & Gordon (who have an adopted son, Miles) and Maria & Luis. The closest they’ve had to an LGBT character is out actor Michael Jeter’s Mr. Noodle. But he’s mostly annoying, not gay.

C: Besides, they already have a gay Muppet… Mr. Snuffleupagus. That’s a drag name if there ever was one. His overly sensitive demeanor? That Harvey Fierstein voice? Those over-the-top eyelashes? When they brought him out of the make-believe closet, they should’ve brought him all the way out.

(PS: If Sesame Street is going to stand by their statement that Bert & Ernie are indeed not gay, they might want to rethink the RAINBOW BELT BUCKLE they sell in their online store.)

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4 responses to “Why Bert & Ernie Shouldn’t Get Gay Married”

  1. Nick (JJ's Papa) says:

    First of all, I WANT THE BELT BUCKLE FOR CHRISTMAS! Second, I agree with my hubby – leave B&E alone, but, let’s get a gay couple or family on the show. Look, kids are not dumb and what they understand is family and love when they see it… Our son is not yet 2 and he gets that we are Daddy and Papa, that we are a couple and that we love each other. Every morning and night, we have our family hug and kiss JJ goodbye or good night, and one day, without provocation, he took his little hands and guided Brent and I to kiss each other. Yeah, he get’s it. Confusion about sexuallity is essentially a result of what we are exposed to on an everyday basis, on TV, ads, etc – heterosexual couples and famillies everywhere you look. What we need is more air time, and with that will come more acceptance and understanding and less confusion (and it will also be good for our son to see more families like us on TV anyway).

  2. Mike says:

    Re: response b) The tricky part about having a gay human or same sex couple on sesame street is to not have ANY sexual connotation to it at all. They would have to treat it in the same way that they have treated inter-racial relationships and base the delivery in love for one another, and leave it at that. And that approach, I think, would really hard for many in our community, since who we (gay folk) are sexually is, by the overwhelming majority, worn on our sleeves. One (and only one) of the differences (I am aware there are others) between, say, the million man march and any given gay pride event is the blatant display of sexual content, most of which is not appropriate for kids who are of the age to ask questions about it. I am aware that there is straight sexual connotation out there also, but you dont find it in places like sesame street or nickelodeon. Modern Family does it right, but that’s ABC prime time, not CTW.

    • Brent M. Almond says:

      It would definitely be more of a challenge to have a single LGBT person on Sesame Street, but would be relatively easy to introduce a couple… and for them to interact the same way that Susan and Gordon do. It’s apparent that S&G live together and have a child, but otherwise it’s kept completely non-romantic/sexual. Unless I missed the episode where they were making out on the stoop. 🙂

      Kids are smart, and if there’s 2 men or 2 women coming out of the same apartment together on Sesame Street, pushing a stroller with their child in it, they’ll know it’s another family, not care, and just wait for Elmo to come back on. 🙂


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