Bert, Ernie not gay, Sesame Street producer insists

After the U.S. Supreme Court cleared the way for same-sex marriage in 2013, the New Yorker turned to Bert and Ernie. Well, now we know: Bert and Ernie are gay. Perhaps we can move on, now.

For a few generations now, some people have been obsessed with the relationship between Bert and Ernie, the characters on Sesame Street, as if we had to make that clear. They lived together and there appeared to be no interests in anyone else by either one of them.

Mark Salzman tells the blog, Queerty, that he wasn’t professionally out when he started working on Sesame Street.

He pitched gay content to the producers, but said he was stonewalled enough to make him think it was a lost cause, even though Sesame Street was doing a few edgy things back then.

When he wrote for Bert and Ernie, he says, he was writing his own story and that of his partner, film editor Arnold Glassman, who died in 2003.

Yeah, I was Ernie. I look more Bert-ish. 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. So it was the Bert & 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 & Ernie dynamic.

The things that would tick off Arnie would be the things that would tick off Bert. How could it not? I will say that I would never have said to the head writer, “oh, I’m writing this, this is my partner and me.” But those two, Snuffalupagus, because he’s the sort of clinically depressed Muppet…you had characters that appealed to a gay audience. And Snuffy, this depressed person nobody can see, that’s sort of Kafka! It’s sort of gay closeted too.

Sesame Workshop, which produces the show, wanted nothing to do with the revelation.