Are two of our favorite Muppet pals gay? Mark Saltzman says, "When I was writing Bert and Ernie, they were."
If you always thought Bert and Ernie were a gay couple, here's a little vindication: so did "Sesame Street" writer Mark Saltzman.
The seven-time Emmy winner told Queerty in an interview published earlier this week that he always thought of the characters "as a loving couple," and often drew from his own same-sex relationship with longtime partner Arnold Glassman, an Emmy-nominated editor.
"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," Saltzman said when answering what the reporter referred to as "the big question."
"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," he continued. "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.'"
Saltzman said he was Ernie in the relationship and Glassman was Bert.
"And Arnie as a film editor -- if you thought of Bert with a job in the world, wouldn’t that be perfect? Bert with his paper clips and organization? And I was the jokester," he said. "So it was the Bert and Ernie relationship, and 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."
Saltzman is only speaking from his perspective, though. He did not create the famous Muppet roommates, who appeared in the 1969 pilot episode of "Sesame Street." Saltzman didn't start writing for the show until 1985. The characters were created by Muppets mastermind Jim Henson, who played puppeteer for Ernie alongside Frank Oz as Bert.
"Sesame Street" formally answered the popular fan theory in 2011, denying that the characters had any sexuality at all.
"Bert and Ernie are best friends," Sesame Workshop said in a statement responding to a Change.org petition demanding the characters get married. "They were created to teach preschoolers that people can be good friends with those who are very different from themselves. 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."
TooFab reached out to Sesame Workshop for additional comment and will update this article if the company responds.