Updated Tuesday, Sept. 17 at 1:15 p.m. PT: The Sesame Workshop tweeted out an official statement saying that Bert and Ernie don't have a sexual orientation. Their full statement is below.
"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. 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."
Please see our statement below regarding Bert and Ernie. pic.twitter.com/6r2j0XrKYu— Sesame Workshop (@SesameWorkshop) September 18, 2018
A former Sesame Street writer has confirmed what we always knew: Bert and Ernie are a loving gay couple.
During an interview with Queerty, writer Mark Saltzman reflected upon writing the iconic Muppet duo as a gay couple and seeing his own relationship with editor Arnold Glassman in the pair.
"And I always felt that without a huge agenda, when I was writing Bert and Ernie, they were [gay]. I didn't have any other way to contextualize them. The other thing was, more than one person referred to Arnie and I as 'Bert and Ernie,' " Saltzman said.
Saltzman elaborated, explaining the ways in his which own relationship with Glassman influenced Bert and Ernie on the show, right down to how Glassman's "OCD" would "create friction with how chaotic [Saltzman] was."
"That's what I had in my life, a Bert and Ernie relationship. How could it not permeate?" Saltzman continued. "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.' "
However, it is important to note that Saltzman did not create the characters of Bert and Ernie, nor does his characterization of the pair necessarily reflect the official Sesame Street ideology. Bert and Ernie first appeared in the Sesame Street test pilot in 1969, long before Saltzman began writing on the series in 1984. In 2011, a statement from the Sesame Workshop's Facebook account refuted the speculation that Bert and Ernie were anything other than "best friends" and that "they remain puppets, and do not have a sexual orientation." That didn't stopThe New Yorker from featuring Bert and Ernie on their covering celebrating the Supreme Court's historic ruling on same-sex marriage in 2013, though.