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Bert & Ernie Are Gay (And Why That's OK)

Updated October 13, 2018 105.9k views9 items

Ever since the debut of Sesame Street in 1969, one mystery has befuddled and bemused TV audiences around the world. That question is: If everyone on Sesame Street is so friendly, why won't they let Oscar live with them in one of the apartments instead of outside in a trash can? Oh, and also: are Bert and Ernie gay?

Many have long suspected that these two beloved Sesame Street characters are, in fact, undercover Muppet lovers. Some people think they might be brothers, or just friends, but the evidence shows otherwise. Urban legend even holds that the characters were initially meant to give children a model for an everyday gay couple. But the Children's Television Workshop refuses to confirm or deny the implication (stating that they are puppets, and therefore don't have a sexual orientation), and thus we've all been left to wonder.

Until now. The signs are all there, and others are beginning to take notice: A petition on the website asked PBS and the Children's Television Network to get Bert and Ernie out of the closet - and hold a gay wedding for them. Sesame Street Workshop responded, in 2011, that everyone's favorite puppet couple are just friends. However, the cover of the New Yorker in July 2013 suggested otherwise. The cover, created by Jack Hunter, depicts Bert & Ernie snuggling on the couch, watching the SCOTUS decision about gay marriage. 

Those behind the movement believe that if Bert and Ernie marry, children might learn to be more tolerant and accepting of their gay peers, who in turn will feel better about themselves. Check out our list of reasons why Bert & Ernie are gay below, and be sure to share your thoughts in the comment section. 
  • Bert's Tweet (and Other "Official" Evidence Throughout the Ages)

    In June of 2010, Bert took to the 'Sesame Street' Twitter account and sent out a Tweet that got everyone's attention.

    What seemed like an unremarkable comment quickly became something much, much more - offering potential proof that Bert, at least, was gay. What did he say?

    Casual comment, right? Not for some people, who speculated that the word 'mo' was a slang term for "homosexual." And the timing of the Tweet was also questioned: Some gay bloggers noted that several U.S. cities were hosting Gay Pride celebrations.

    Little hints like this have been dropped throughout the characters' lives, and have always been little healthy nudges towards the never-ending rumors about the puppets' sexualities.

    I mean, just look at these book covers.

    Who did they think they were fooling?...

    Sesame Street Magazine cover, October 1977

    Fairyland? Really?
    Sesame Street Magazine cover, October 1980

    Okay, now they're not even trying anymore
    "Love" a 1980 Sesame Street album about Love

    This was, for a while, not so much a rumor, but something so blatant, that the Christian Right actually went after them.

    "Bert and Ernie are two grown men sharing a house and a bedroom. They share clothes, eat and cook together and have blatantly effeminate characteristics. In one show Bert teaches Ernie how to sew. In another they tend plants together. If this isn't meant to represent a homosexual union, I can't imagine what it's supposed to represent." -- Reverend Joseph Chambers, 1994

    If you're pissing off the Christian right with your characters, you know they can't be part of a "traditional" lifestyle. And really, there's nothing wrong with that. Why would anyone be against making strides towards making f*ture generations more tolerant?
  • Their Bathing Habits

    Their Bathing Habits is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list Bert & Ernie Are Gay (And Why That's OK)
    Video: YouTube

    While I've never seen Bert and Ernie actually in the bathtub together, I do remember one instance where Ernie played a piano as Bert was in the tub, singing (this was on an old Muppet Sing-Along record).

    Ernie obviously has no problem with several people joining him in his "tubby", either.

    Also, how many straight American males do you know that would casually bathe with and around their male friends?

    Obviously his Rubber Duckie takes priority, but in at least one skit, Ernie's joined in the tub by Oscar the Grouch, The Count and Kermit the Frog, among others. Bert is suspiciously absent until the end of the skit, when he knocks on the door and seems surprised. Wouldn't you? Your roomie (wink wink) has just turned your bathroom into a Muppet bath house!
  • Their Couple-y Wall Photos

    Their Couple-y Wall Photos is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list Bert & Ernie Are Gay (And Why That's OK)
    Photo: flickr / CC0

    Ernie and Bert were virtually the only Muppets to appear in the Sesame Street pilot episode, which was screen tested to a number of families in July 1969.

    According to Sesame Street's official PR, "Bert and Ernie are best friends... they were created to teach preschoolers that people can be friends with those who are very different from themselves".

    But isn't that exactly what an out-of-the-closet Bert and Ernie would do?

    Also, if these two aren't supposed to be able to have romantic feelings "because they're puppets", then how/why do Kermit/Miss Piggy exist?

    They never outright said that they are not gay. And this is for a reason. Their wall photos are another solid example of their possible homosexuality.

    Sure, you share an apartment with a same-sex friend - but do you have framed photos of the two of you together adorning the walls? Maybe, if you took like a really cool hiking trip to Colorado or went moose hunting in Canada or whatever. But what about an actual portrait-style photo?

    Only couples (and hipsters) do this.

    Bert and Ernie have one. In fact, they may have two: In various 'Sesame Street' episodes, a (beautifully and tastefully) framed photo of Bert and Ernie is clearly shown in the living room (over the table lamp) and in the bedroom (remember, the one they share?) over the lamp and nightstand. So they can be the last thing they see when they go to bed.
  • All That Singing

    All That Singing is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list Bert & Ernie Are Gay (And Why That's OK)
    Video: YouTube

    Bert and Ernie sing together. A lot. Not like air guitar, karaoke, American-Idol-reject kind of singing, either.

    No, their songs are full-out productions - dare I tunes? These two could easily cross over to 'Glee' and join the Warblers (you listening, Ryan Murphy?). While this isn't a lock, it certainly suggests that this pair might (again, might, stop over-thinking this) be a gay couple.

    "La, La, La. La. LOVE!"
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