Bert and Ernie Are a Gay Couple, Says Sesame Street Writer

Mark Saltzman admits he wrote the characters as if they were lovers

By Mike Vulpo Sep 18, 2018 5:39 PMTags
Bert, Ernie, Sesame StreetAP Photo/Beth A. Keiser, File

UPDATE: Sesame Workshop, the nonprofit educational organization behind Sesame Street, is speaking out about Bert and Ernie.

"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," the organization said in a statement. "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."


The streets are talking when it comes to Bert and Ernie's relationship.

Ever since Sesame Street started in 1969, fans of all ages have grown to love two of the original characters.

But in a new interview, Sesame Street writer Mark Saltzman confirmed the two are a gay couple.  

"I remember one time that a column from The San Francisco Chronicle, a preschooler in the city turned to mom and asked 'are Bert & Ernie lovers?' And that, coming from a preschooler was fun. And 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 & Ernie, they were," Mark shared with Queerty. "I didn't have any other way to contextualize them."

Stars on Sesame Street

Mark explained that the duo is a reflection of his own same-sex relationship with film editor Arnold Glassman. He joked that he was Ernie while Arnold was Bert.

"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," he explained. "I wrote sketches…Arnie's OCD would create friction with how chaotic I was. And that's the Bert & Ernie dynamic."

"I will say that I would never have said to the head writer, 'oh, I'm writing this, this is my partner and me.' But those two, Snuffalupagus, because he's the sort of clinically depressed Muppet…you had characters that appealed to a gay audience," Mark continued. "And Snuffy, this depressed person nobody can see, that's sort of Kafka! It's sort of gay closeted too."

Fans may also remember that in July 2013, The New Yorker magazine published an illustration of the two roomies shortly after the Supreme Court struck down the Defense of Marriage Act.

Sesame Street continues to introduce new characters into the family-friendly series.

Back in 2017, viewers were introduced to Julia, a new Muppet who has autism.

"I think the big discussion right at the start was, 'How do we do this? How do we talk about autism?'" writer Christine Ferraro said on 60 Minutes. "It's tricky because autism is not one thing, because it is different for every single person who has autism. There is an expression that goes, 'If you've met one person with autism, you've met one person with autism.'"