Sesame Street writer confirms Bert and Ernie were written as a gay couple

Sesame Street writer confirms Bert and Ernie were written as a gay couple

A Sesame Street writer has confirmed that beloved characters Bert and Ernie were written as a same-sex couple, after years of speculation by parents and their kids alike.

Writer Mark Saltzman, who joined the show’s writing team in 1984, said the two characters very much reflected his own same-sex relationship with film editor Arnold Glassman at the time.

Saltzman said he didn’t have any other way to “contextualise” the characters as anything but a gay couple.

“I remember one time that a pre-schooler [in San Francisco] turned to her mum and asked ‘Are Bert and Ernie lovers?’ and that, coming from a pre-schooler, was fun,” he said in an interview with Queerty.

“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 and Ernie, they were. I didn’t have any other way to contextualise them.”

Saltzman added that many people would refer to himself and Glassman as Bert and Ernie.

“Yeah, I was Ernie,” he said.

“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 organisation?

“And I was the jokester. 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.”

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3 responses to “Sesame Street writer confirms Bert and Ernie were written as a gay couple”

  1. Those of you who think it isnt important for children to see loving, normal same sex couples forget that they see loving, normal heterosexual couples all the time, everywhere. How can our children grow up to be accepting of themselves and others if they never see them?

  2. I don’t think it’s important to define them one way or another. Loving and considerate relationships are certainly
    a part of same-sex friendships as well. At an early age, children should not be forced to think of sexual preference since it is almost irrelevant to what Bert & Erie exemplified as faithful companions.

  3. I’m a Gen-Xer in my 40’s but grew up loving Bert and Ernie. It’s not important to kids (or at least it wasn’t in the late 70’s) to know whether they’re gay, but certainly they had an amazing dynamic where Bert was uptight and Ernie was hilarious and they both got a lot out of their close relationship. Whether it got physical was a matter for them I guess, and they never really shared that info.

    Cooperation and compromise and trust and understanding and forgiveness were critical to every episode of their relationship I ever saw as a kid watching Sesame Street. Good lesson in life for everyone. Particularly the crowd wanting to ban the Liberals and cops from Mardi Gras at a time when both groups are finally actually prepared to come to the party and future generations of gay folks might not need to be at war with either.