The petition was started by equal rights organization Change.org and at the writing of this article has nearly 9,000 signatures. "In this horrid age of LGBTQ kids taking their own lives and being beaten for who they are, need to know that they're BEAUTIFUL, as Christine's song goes," reads the petition. The attention the petition has gotten on Twitter (#BertandErnie) and Facebook has has sparked a fierce debate amongst adults.
Let Bert and Ernie Come Out
The long time companions aren't merely puppets. They represent, as Sesame Street's furries always have, an image of American culture. For over four decades the couple has lived in the same apartment, shared their lives, side-by-side beds, and their A-B-C and 1-2-3s. Even decades ago when the couple was introduced, the idea of "best friends" living and sharing like Bert and Ernie do only had one spelling: G-A-Y. Then, that was the way of expressing their same-sex relationship. Today it's time to put the pink elephant to rest. Bert and Ernie should be outed for what they really are: Not golf buddies, but partners.
They're BFF's. Period.
Opponents to Bert and Ernie's union are quick to cite Seseme Street's demographic, 3 and 4-year olds, as the reason why Bert and Ernie should stay BFFs. Writers, like Lana Sweeten-Shults at TimesRecordNews argue that are children aren't ready to hear about sexuality and sexual orientation.
"Suggesting that 'Sesame Street' introduce (or in this case, reintroduce) a gay couple to help gay and lesbian children feel good about themselves is insane, since I doubt many of the 'Sesame Street' audience is gay," Sweeten-Shults writes.
"Can you spell r-i-d-i-c-u-l-o-u-s?" Sweeten-Shults continues. I commend Sweeten-Shults on her spelling, but what's insane are her assumptions about SS's audience and blatant homophobia. She does a disservice to Sesame Street, a program that's always helped our young people absorb diversity as well as the alphabet.
Are toddlers ready to hear about sex and sexuality? That's a question that can't be ignored. Are they ready to start learning that parents come in many shapes, shades, sizes, and orientations? You bet your phonics!
"Gay" is no longer in the closet, like Bert and Ernie's relationship has been in the past. Not to mention same-sex relationships are as commonplace as the letters and numbers we sing. There's no mistaking the prevalence of gay discussions in all cultural forums and our awareness of diversity transcends age floors. Whether children learn about gay and lesbian couples on Sesame Street or on the street is the question. I'd rather they learn about such topics in the responsible space that is Sesame Street.
Should Bert and Ernie Marry?
"No, they are Muppets. Other than Kermit and Ms Piggy have any Muppets gotten married or ever had any hint of a romance displayed? Do we know the marital status of any of the characters of Sesame Street? When I was a kid we didn't. Trying to marry off two Muppets to make a statement is not going to effect the desired result..."
"Just because they were never intended to be gay 40 years ago when showing such a thing was inconceivable doesn't mean the characters can't evolve with the times. I say let Bert and Ernie marry or put Miss Piggy in a pantsuit and elect her to Congress, but you can't have it both ways..." Join the debate