It’s the marriage invitation gay rights activists have waited 30 years to receive: Mr. and Mrs. Jim Henson request the honor of your presence at the marriage of Ernie to Bert.
Well, they’ll have to wait a little longer because Bert and Ernie aren’t gay, straight or human, says “Sesame Street” non-profit Sesame Workshop.
Last week an online petition was started to get “Sesame Street” characters Bert and Ernie married so LGBT children can know “they are are beautiful and their lives are worth living,” according to the petition overview on Change.org.
Although it has collected more than 1,460 signatures in less than a week, it doesn’t look like America’s favorite oblong-shaped roommates will be tying the knot any time soon.
“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,” said Sesame Workshop, the creators of “Sesame Street,” in a statement provided to the Daily Dot. “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.”
Bert and Ernie’s sexual orientation has been the subject of intense internet curiosity since the 1980s. The unofficial father of the rumors is SPY Magazine founder Kurt Andersen who joked that “Bert and Ernie conduct themselves in the same loving, discreet way that millions of gay men, women and hand puppets do,” according to Mediaite quoting a passage from The Real Thing,” a book Andersen published in 1980. “They do their jobs well and live a splendidly settled life together in an impeccably decorated cabinet.”
Last June the rumors got a shot of adrenaline after someone impersonating Bert on the official “Sesame Street” Twitter page made a comment on an “A-Team” parody the show had planned, according to CBS News.
“Ever notice how similar my hair is to Mr. T‘s?” said the tweet according to The Irish Independent. “The only difference is that mine is a little more ‘mo’, and a little less ‘hawk.’”
The tweet sparked intense debate among religious and gay rights groups. Focus on the Family, an evangelical Christian organization condemned the tweet while the Gay and Lesbian Association Against Defamation praised it, reported CBS.
A similar divide has appeared with this petition.
“What’s next? Please don’t steal the childhood away from innocent children by making their favorite characters into gay people,” wrote Jean Spence, of Coatesville, Pa., on the petition’s message board. “Don’t you think they are exposed to enough harmful acts in their life? Don’t give kids more stupid ideas!”
“This would be such a brilliant move on the part of PBS/Sesame Street,” wrote Desiree Aubry, of Allston, Ma. “Growing up, I watched Sesame Street, and even at that age I always thought they loved each other though I couldn’t put it into words. It would be such a great example to children, it would help promote equality.”