Are Bert and Ernie Gay? Writer Says Yes but Puppeteer Says No

A "Sesame Street" writer says he modeled Bert and Ernie after his relationship with his same-sex partner.
A "Sesame Street" writer says he modeled Bert and Ernie after his relationship with his same-sex partner. (Getty)

It seems as if the LGBTQ+ community may have celebrated too soon.

Just hours after “Sesame Street” writer Mark Saltzman confirmed Bert and Ernie are a couple, others behind the show are denying the pair is romantically involved at all.

Frank Oz, the puppeteer behind Bert, said in a statement on Twitter that Bert and Ernie are not gay, despite Saltzman insisting they are.

“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,” Oz wrote.

He added: "But why that question? Does it really matter? Why the need to define people as only gay? There’s much more to a human being than just straightness or gayness.

Oz backtracked to specify that by saying they are not gay, he did not mean Bert and Ernie were straight. Instead, he said the pair was just intended to be friends without emphasis on a sexual orientation.

After much debate on Twitter, he tweeted that he realized the pair being gay did mean a lot to a community that feels underrepresented.

Saltzman, who joined the show as a writer in 1984, said he modeled Bert and Ernie after his own same-sex relationship with long-time partner Arnold Glassman, whom he affectionately calls “Arnie,” in a recent interview that rocked social media.

“I always felt that without a huge agenda, when I was writing Bert & Ernie, they were [gay]," he told Queerty.

Saltzman continued, “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. I wrote sketches … Arnie’s OCD would create friction with how chaotic I was. And that’s the Bert and Ernie dynamic.”

While Sesame Workshop came out on Twitter shortly after to say the puppets “identified as male characters” but “do not have a sexual orientation," they have since deleted that tweet and released a new statement to emphasize that they are “best friends” for “people of all cultures and backgrounds."

“Sesame Street has always stood for inclusion and acceptance. It’s a place where people of all cultures and backgrounds are welcome. Bert and Ernie were created to be best friends, and to teach young children that people can get along with those who are very different from themselves,” the updated statement read.

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