Now that Anderson Cooper and Jodie Foster skipped out of the glass closet, it’s mainly been occupied by the likes of Lilith Fair Barbie and Bert and Ernie from Sesame Street. Everyone assumed Bert and Ernie were splitting their time between their place on Sesame Street and a Fire Island summer share, and even the New Yorker used them on a cover following the Supreme Court legalizing gay marriage in 2013.
Mark Saltzman, who wrote for The Muppets for 15 years, is now saying those two definitely keep their Spotify playlists packed with Kylie Minogue remixes, if you know what I mean. But wait, the parent company of Sesame Street is out poo-poohing any idea that Bert and Ernie are life partners.
Queerty has a lengthy profile on Mark, who wrote stories for Bert and Ernie and the other Muppets beginning in 1984. It sounds like Mark tried to get some kind of same-sex love parallels on Sesame Street since he was writing at the peak of the AIDS crisis, but the gatekeepers of what made it onto the show basically told him to cut it out. Mark tells Queerty that he always wrote Bert & Ernie as lovers:
“I remember one time that a column from The San Francisco Chronicle, a preschooler in the city turned to mom and asked “are Bert & Ernie lovers?” And that, coming from a preschooler was fun. And that got passed around, and everyone had their chuckle and went back to it. And I always felt that without a huge agenda, when I was writing Bert & Ernie, they were. I didn’t have any other way to contextualize them. The other thing was, more than one person referred to Arnie & I as ‘Bert & Ernie.’”
Sob! By Arnie, he means his late partner Arnold Glassman, who died in 2003.
Mark says he would write from his own relationship into the one of Bert and Ernie, so Arnie’s OCD was Ernie’s OCD and Mark’s joking ways were Bert’s joking ways. Honestly, if you listen to Mark, it sounds like Sesame Street could have just been ripped off Commercial Street in Provincetown because he created the Sublime Miss M after Bette Midler. But before you start imagining Big Bird as a shot boy at an after-hours club, Sesame Workshop, the parent company of Sesame Street, issued a statement to the Blast to say stop trying to get the Muppets to hump on each other:
“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.”
Yes! The type of best friends who live in a one-bedroom apartment with a shared bed…and different because one is a Britney Spears gay and the other is a Christina Aguilera gay! OK, fine, that wasn’t it. They continued:
“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.”
Frank Oz, the longtime Mupeteer, gave his take and said it’s fine if Mark thinks Bert and Ernie are gay – even though they aren’t. Psh, don’t rain on our Pride Parade, Frank! I feel like this is the gay version of when the creator of the gif said it’s pronounced “JIFF,” and everyone who says it the wrong way (fight me on this, I dare you) got pissed and said he didn’t know what he was talking about. Long story short: Bert and Ernie are 2(x)ist-wearing, Ariana Grande-listening proud queens, and it is pronounced JIFF! The end!