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Ramon Johnson

ISSUE: Kevin Clash's Accuser Recants Statement

By November 14, 2012

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Unfortunately, the circumstances under which Sesame Street icon Kevin Clash came out were not entirely his own, but via the allegations of a younger man who accused Clash of having a relationship with him while underage.

Clash never denied the relationship, particularly after a sexual email that he sent to the unnamed man surfaced. What was of question, until today, was the age of the young man, who said he was under 18 at the time the relationship began. Clash was put on leave from Sesame Street (took some time off) to clear up the mess.

Today, Fox News is reporting that the accuser has recanted his statement, clarifying that he was indeed an adult when he and Clash met.

However, as they say, the damage has already been done. Since the news broke, media personalities haven't been shy with their opinions about the appropriateness of Clash's personal life. "As much as Clash's life off of Sesame Street is certainly his own to live, it is hard not to hold him, as a children's educator, to a higher standard," writes Tim Graham at News Busters.

What Graham is really saying, underneath the claim of a separate 'standard', is that Clash's relationship with another man is inappropriate for young audiences. Ultimately, what Clash's relationship fuels are existing perceptions about gay men as predators of children and heightens preexisting advocacy to keep Sesame Street away from issues of sexuality.

Last year in a grassroots and cheeky petition for the show to marry longtime 'best friends' Burt and Ernie, voices similar to Graham's added moral verdict to the debate over the welfare of children. "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," Times Record News columnist Lana Sweeten-Shults wrote.

Perhaps the intricacies of Clash's affair aren't prime material for afternoon play time, but to insinuate that Clash, as a child educator, must maintain a heterosexually centered moral standard is a mere reflection of routine conservative strategy of prevention through denial. By not exposing our young people to the issues surrounding sexuality, conservatives believe, young people will be less inclined to explore those complexities in favor of a more homogenous and 'traditional' value system. The conduit for the attack, in this case Clash, is different but the current of conservatism and puritanism is the same.

Let me hear your voice. How should we respond to the scandal over Clash's affair? Should Clash's private life stay as such? Or, as the most famous puppet master behind Jim Henson, is he just too risque for young audiences?
November 14, 2012 at 5:26 pm
(1) Gary Dee says:

There are far too many unanswered questions here, and too much reaction, clouding any kind of rational thought.
Why did this ‘young man’ come forward with his accusation, in the first place? Who got to him and “convinced” him to? The recanting,as you say, is moot, but what sticks out is that this whole thing comes off as a set piece, solely designed to smear Kevin Clash, and remove him.
Now we have Tim Graham pontificating and preying on the imagined fears of the parents of the child viewers.
I say that instead of reacting predictably, a little behind the scenes, connect the dots, and find out who the true author of this melodrama is and shine a spotlight on him. Let the public see that those who instigated this are not so much interested in what gets shown to the young as they are in furthering their own ‘secret’ adjenda.

November 14, 2012 at 6:24 pm
(2) Paul says:

While I can understand the reluctance some people feel in introducing the topic of gay relationships to young children, I also think that we are living at a time when children need to be introduced to the concept that some adults have loving relationships with other adults of the same gender.
I think most kids accept these relationships with amazing ease. It’s the adults who have a hard time accepting the concept of gay relationships, partnerships or marriages.
Even though I have never believed that the creators of Sesame Street were consciously trying to make a statement about same-sex relationships through characters like Bert & Ernie, I do think that those characters have helped to break the ice. They have introduced the concept that two people of the same sex can have a close, loving relationship. Kids who have been watching Bert & Ernie for years are cool with the idea that two guys can live together. They don’t yet need to know that sex can be a part of that relationship just as they are probably largely ignorant of that component in their parent’s relationship.
As children go through the process of discovering what the world around them is all about, sooner or later they will learn that, in spite of what some parents might wish, gay people really are a part of the larger world. Gay people can be teachers, authors of children’s books and, yes, even puppeteers!

November 15, 2012 at 2:30 am
(3) Hans says:

Good morning Ramon, Paul and the whole Community
I fully agree and endorse the comment of Paul. He hit the nail on his head!
Furthermore in the US of A of today, the fact that someone is gay should not attract attention at all. It should be a basic human right, that everybody can conduct his life the way he wants it.
I feel that Tim Graham has a problem with the success of Kevin Clash. Nothing more or less.

November 23, 2012 at 9:36 pm
(4) Goodwillgals.com says:

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