It seems Mr. Mark Saltzman was asked if Bert & Ernie are gay. It's fine that he feels they are. They're not, of course. But why that question? Does it really matter? Why the need to define people as only gay? There's much more to a human being than just straightness or gayness.
Oz, who created Bert and has been behind the performance of countless other puppets including Miss Piggy, Fozzie Bear, Cookie Monster, Grover and Yoda, released a statement Tuesday after Sesame Street writer Mark Saltzman alleged the duo were gay.
“It seems Mr. Mark Saltzman was asked if Bert & Ernie are gay. It’s fine that he feels they are. They’re not, of course,” Oz said. “But why that question? Does it really matter? Why the need to define people as only gay? There’s much more to a human being than just straightness or gayness.”
Saltzman had said during an interview with gay-lifestyle magazine Queerty that his writing for the characters drew from his own experiences.
“I remember one time a preschooler [in San Francisco] turned to her mum and asked, ‘are Bert and Ernie lovers?’ and that, coming from a preschooler, was fun,” Saltzman recalled. “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.”
Following his statement on Twitter, Oz began to receive criticism for commenting on his creation.
The conversation turned even uglier when Oz was accused of having disgust and hatred for homosexuals.
You may have created him, but you don't seem to realize or appreciate what he meant to thousands of little boys growing up. You digging in your heels (and wrongly conflating romantic orientation with sexual orientation) with what seems like disgust is abjectly disappointing.
The organization behind Sesame Street has since released a statement, reiterating that neither character has a sexual orientation.
“As we have always said, Bert and Ernie are best friends,” a spokesman said. “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.”
Oz, appearing overwhelmed by the criticism, attempted to appease his detractors before seemingly leaving Twitter.