In an odd twist, two of the day’s most trending topics involve characters of your yesteryears. For obvious reasons, we’ll let you figure out why Toad from Mario Kart is in the news for yourself. The other story of the day involves Bert and Ernie of Sesame Street fame, and whether or not they’re gay.
In a new interview with Queerty, longtime Sesame Street writer Mark Saltzman was adamant that the puppets were more than just friends. “I always felt that without a huge agenda, when I was writing Bert & Ernie, they were [gay],” Saltzman explained. “I didn’t have any other way to contextualize them.”
Though Jim Henson and Frank Oz created Bert and Ernie, Saltzman was charged with writing the characters’ storylines over the course of his 15-year stint on Sesame Street. In doing so, he said his depiction of the characters was reflective of his own relationship with editor Arnold Glassman.
“Yeah, I was Ernie. I look more Bert-ish. 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 organization? And I was the jokester. So it was the Bert & 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.”
For its part, Sesame Workshop maintains Bert and Ernie are merely “best friends,” and nothing more. According to a statement released in response to Saltzman’s interview, Bert and Ernie “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.”
Being puppets didn’t stop Miss Piggy and Kermit from having a romantic relationship for the last 40 years, but I digress.