Ex-'Sesame Street' writer says Bert and Ernie are gay, show insists they are just friends

(Photo by Matthew Simmons/Getty Images)
(Photo by Matthew Simmons/Getty Images)

People have suspected for years that the beloved characters on "Sesame Street," Bert and Ernie, are gay, and an ex-writer from the show, Mark Saltzman, may have confirmed those suspicions in a new article from LGBTQIA+ publication "Queerty." 

"I remember one time that (in) a column from The San Francisco Chronicle, a preschooler in the city turned to mom and asked, 'Are Bert and 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," Saltzman said.

Saltzman also discussed the difficulties of being an out writer back in the mid-'80s, and compared his own relationship with editor Arnold Glassman to the characters -- adding, "And I always felt that without a huge agenda, when I was writing Bert and 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 and Ernie.'”

While many people took to social media to celebrate Bert and Ernie's official coming out, Sesame Workshop tweeted a clarification of Saltzman's remarks. 

"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,” the tweet reads. “Even though they are identified as male characters and posess many human traits and characteristics (as most Sesame Street Muppets do), they remain puppets, and do not have a sexual orientation."

Since Sesame Workshop has released its statement on Bert and Ernie, many have called out that other Muppets, like Kermit the Frog and Miss Piggy, are portrayed as a heterosexual couple, even going as far as having their own wedding. 

This isn't the first time the show has made clarifications about Bert and Ernie's sexuality. In 2011, Sesame Workshop released a statement calling the characters "best friends" and nothing more after a Change.org petition gained popularity urging the characters to come out when gay marriage was legalized in New York.  

The statements from Sesame Workshop have not stopped people from thinking that Bert and Ernie are still lovers. In 2013, the duo were featured on the cover of "The New Yorker" embracing on a couch while watching the historic U.S. v. Windsor Supreme Court decision that overturned an important section of the Defense of Marriage Act. 


An earlier version of this story incorrectly listed that PBS made the statement about Bert and Ernie's sexuality in 2011 -- when it was actually the Sesame Workshop that made the statement. The story has been updated to reflect the corrected information.


About the Author:

Jack is a Digital Content Editor with a degree in creative writing and French from Western Michigan University. He specializes in writing about movies, food and the latest TV shows.