Daytime Television’s Longest-Running Gay Couple Covers The New Yorker




The Young and the Restless fave Greg Rikaart isn't the only daytime television star rejoicing over DOMA and Prop 8 being kicked to the curb. Sesame Street's Bert is thrilled to finally be able to make an honest man out of Ernie!

Illustrator Jack Hunter created the cover above for the July 8 and 15, 2013 issue of The New Yorker. I wonder if Big Bird is licensed to perform the ceremony?

Photo credit: The New Yorker

49 Responses

  1. Profile photo of sodsince16
    sodsince16

    Bert and Ernie were the only gay representation that I had as a kid. That’s why my boyfriend protested when I assumed that all gay couples had twin beds in their bedroom.

  2. Profile photo of dewlove
    dewlove

    Hi All….Prettyflower10001, honey they’re both men. That’s pretty much what makes it gay (and so much fun!)

    However, I think this cover is inappropriate. Sesame Workshop has been attacked mercifully over the years about trying to indoctrinate children with some sort of gay agenda due because of Bert and Ernie. They have stated time and time again that these two Muppets – in fact all of the Sesame Street Muppets – have no sexuality. Sesame Workshop does such great work in educating our youth, they shouldn’t have to defend themselves against the “outrage” this will once again cause. Let’s focus on real gay icons (Miss Piggy, of course) and leave these two puppets alone.

  3. Profile photo of sillytee
    sillytee

    sorry guys im gay but i think it’s pathetic that just because bert and ernie (two puppets mind you!!!) were living together that would make them gay. i grew up watching sesame street and all i saw were two roommates..

  4. Profile photo of gslam
    gslam

    Are we really bitching and complaining about whether or not two sexless puppets can be seen as gay icons? I fail to see the issue here.

  5. Profile photo of marknsprmo
    marknsprmo

    gslam I think the issue is that millions of young people in this country have grown up without a single advocate on their side. Our parents were against our sexuality and our nature, our religion is against our sexuality, our government, our school system, our military, our tv screen (this is a generality and some of these things have gotten better for some people). Sometimes out of that we take what we can get. If Bert and Ernie represented something that one could identify with as an iconic long term gay couple, then this is a huge issue. We have had so very little support and identification markings that we ourselves didn’t produce (gay pride, drag shows, public park trolling, gay bars, Paul Lynde….) that to see and be able to connect to something, anything is important.
    I recall Whoopie Goldberg talking about Lt Uhura on Star Trek as being a great influence on her because she was the only black female being portrayed as an equal on tv. Ask her how important that was to her.
    When I was a teenager, my favorite author Isabelle Holland, came out with a book that treated homosexuality with atleast some dignity The Man Without a Face. I swallowed that book whole. I was fortunate that few people I knew read books because I could have been outed at that moment if someone had known what I was reading.
    It meant the world to me. I think this is why Bert and Ernie are so important to so many gay men and women. Because of the total absence of anything else that resembled us.

  6. Profile photo of marknsprmo
    marknsprmo

    Oh and by the way did I miss something here? While it is hardly a surprise that Greg came out, I am surprised that we aren’t making a more positive issue with his own article…… We should be praising him for doing what others in the industry that have been around even longer than a decade still won’t do. Thanks Greg for coming forward.

  7. Profile photo of gslam
    gslam

    @marknsprmo: I agree with you 1,000%. I’m not one of the people above who is bitching and complaining about Bert and Ernie NOT being gay. I think you misunderstood my post.

    And thank you for explaining WHY it’s possible for the LGBT community to see Bert and Ernie as two gay icons, despite what Sesame Street or anyone else might say otherwise. I couldn’t have said it better myself. :)

  8. Profile photo of RebeccaJ
    RebeccaJ

    I think the cover is inappropriate, also. It sends the message that two “people” of the same sex can’t possibly be platonic friends. Guess all the male/male and female/female roommates of the world are gay…

  9. Profile photo of david46208
    david46208

    @gslam: The point of the characters creations was to present two roommates who are completely different that learn how to get along with each other. It was educational.

    I say that if anyone must take two characters and sexualize them that it is the worst of what can happen. These are children’s television characters. Sometimes adults for all sorts of reason try to draw conclusions about what is seen on TV to suit their own purposes or biases.

    That is what gets me.

    It is also offensive to believe that two people of the same sex cannot live together without being gay or lesbian for that fact. So that is something people don’t seem to think about in their need to create rolemodels.

  10. Profile photo of
    prettyflower10001

    I think the whole thing is hilarious and an ingenious piece of artwork. I personally am not into puppet sex. Now give me a good clown and I can really get down!! I just love a clown gang bang or being tied up and having a group of clowns throw pies at me! When I was a child I lusted after Bozo soooooo bad. My brother was into Strawberry Shortcake and Rainbow Brite, but not me. No way. Give me some hot clown sex, yeah man. Just no puppets.

  11. Profile photo of fmat55
    fmat55

    [quote=RebeccaJ]I think the cover is inappropriate, also. It sends the message that two “people” of the same sex can’t possibly be platonic friends. Guess all the male/male and female/female roommates of the world are gay…[/quote]
    I must have missed something. Who said all male/male and female/female roommates of the world are gay? This is about how viewers see Ernie and Burt (2 muppets). If I choose to view them as gay and the next person chooses to see them as vegetarians and the next person chooses to see them as ugly muppets, who is right?

  12. Profile photo of gslam
    gslam

    [quote=david46208]It is also offensive to believe that two people of the same sex cannot live together without being gay or lesbian for that fact. So that is something people don’t seem to think about in their need to create rolemodels.[/quote]

    @david46208: Here’s my response to this argument – so what? And I’m not responding this way to be rude – really, I’m not. My response is serious. Why do we care what anyone thinks is going on between two people of the same sex? So what if people think two people are gay when they’re not? The true offense is what bubbles beneath the surface of the “I’m offended you think we might be gay because we’re two dudes living together” offense: the supposition that there’s something wrong with two men living together – lovers or not – in the first place.

    Mantra: “What other people think of me is none of my business.”

  13. Profile photo of gslam
    gslam

    [quote=prettyflower10001]I think the whole thing is hilarious and an ingenious piece of artwork. I personally am not into puppet sex. Now give me a good clown and I can really get down!! I just love a clown gang bang or being tied up and having a group of clowns throw pies at me! When I was a child I lusted after Bozo soooooo bad. My brother was into Strawberry Shortcake and Rainbow Brite, but not me. No way. Give me some hot clown sex, yeah man. Just no puppets.[/quote]

    This is effing GENIUS.

  14. Profile photo of david46208
    david46208

    @gslam: Now here is the bias in your statement there. It is to suggests that one has the right to take two characters and turn them into one’s own adult idea. So unless the children’s puppets were created as such to be gay or anything else for that matter then the media does not need to try and fictionlize these 2 iconic characters.

    I would ask you why there is a need to sexualize these two characters?

  15. Profile photo of david46208
    david46208

    @fmat55: While that is true for you to personally view them, however you want them. It is irresponsible for the media to portray them as gay when that was never the show’s intent. The same way it is irresponsible for Hollywood to be making a movie about Nina Simone where she played by a light skinned black actress and in a romance with her manager who was gay in real life and thus never was invloved with her.

  16. Profile photo of GHteenybopper
    GHteenybopper

    [quote=prettyflower10001]I think the whole thing is hilarious and an ingenious piece of artwork. I personally am not into puppet sex. Now give me a good clown and I can really get down!! I just love a clown gang bang or being tied up and having a group of clowns throw pies at me! When I was a child I lusted after Bozo soooooo bad. My brother was into Strawberry Shortcake and Rainbow Brite, but not me. No way. Give me some hot clown sex, yeah man. Just no puppets.[/quote]

    LMAO I don’t know why, but I laughed sooooooo hard when I read this..what in the entire hell hahaha oh my goodness

  17. Profile photo of gslam
    gslam

    @david46208: In turn, I ask you: Why is there a need to neuter these two characters? I guess the graphic sexual representations of these two beloved children’s characters pumped into our homes on a daily basis is just too much for the general public to handle.

    *clutches pearls*

  18. Profile photo of gslam
    gslam

    [quote=david46208]It is irresponsible for the media to portray them as gay when that was never the show’s intent. The same way it is is irresponsible for Hollywood to be making a movie about Nina Simone where she played by a light skinned black actress and in a romance with her manager who was gay in real life and thus never was invloved with her.[/quote]

    This is a terrible analogy.

    Bert and Ernie are fictional characters. Like any work of fiction, a reader/viewer/listener brings their own interpretation to bear upon meaning and intent. This is at the heart of postmodern thought. The artist’s intention is, for lack of a better term, irrelevant.

    Nina Simone, on the other hand, was a real person with a real, verifiable history. To portray her as you describe IS offensive because it’s historically inaccurate.

    Sesame Street NEVER said a damn thing about Bert and Ernie’s sexual orientation until after gay marriage advocates petitioned the show to have the two get married. Only after the petition sparked media interest did Sesame Street release a statement saying they’re “just friends,” and “Even though they are identified as male characters and possess many human traits and characteristics, they remain puppets, and do not have a sexual orientation.”

    What I find interesting about this – even offensive – is that there are plenty of examples of implied puppet heterosexuality on Sesame Street. Unfortunately, according to the powers that be, Sesame Street remains “heterosexual only.” And that’s not offensive?

  19. Profile photo of Jamey Giddens
    Jamey Giddens

    Where was the righteous indigestion when Missy Piggy and Kermit were “sexualized”? Oh right. Heterosexualization between species is okay, but Bert and Ernie being more than platonic, decades-long roomies is SICK!

  20. Profile photo of david46208
    david46208

    @gslam: The narrative of Ernie and Bert has been set by the creator and reinforced by the show. They didn’t feel they had to say anything because they did not believe that people actually saw these children’s characters as gay. Or at least they were oblivious to it. Because it is a children’s show! Not an adult languaged TV series. Can the kids not have anything without adults trying to politicize it one way or another?

    Where does it end?

    Now as for the comparison, it is fitting if you put on your thinking cap. Nina Simone is a pop cultural icon as are these two fictionalized Sesame Street puppets. It does not give anyone the license to publicly re-envision who they are to suit ones needs or biases. Leave them both be as who they are.

  21. Profile photo of david46208
    david46208

    @Jamey_Giddens: The Muppet Show was established as Piggy and Kermit in a budding romance. So it was not a children’s show. And like I said if the show decided to have a gay puppet or puppets that would be another thing. But these characters are not gay! So it is wrong of the media to re-invision these characters. So it is not about straight vs gay. It is about the intent of these characters. Kermit and Piggy were written romatically. So playing the sexuality card is not going to work in this case.

  22. Profile photo of david46208
    david46208

    @Jamey_Giddens: And my whole thing is about the media doing it. People can do what they want in the comfort of their own minds. But what the media should have done was to leave these characters alone. There are other gay characters they could have chosen from, like the couple from Modern Family. Now that would have been something to write home about.

  23. Profile photo of Jamey Giddens
    Jamey Giddens

    The New Yorker uses satirical illustration all the time. This isn’t “the media deciding Bert and Ernie are in fact and indeed sodomizing homosexuals”. It’s satire—protected by law—and as old as literature itself.

  24. Profile photo of liason4real
    liason4real

    [quote=Ryan-Scott]Oscar the Grouch always seemed like he was coming down from a meth or coke binge….[/quote]
    ====

    OMG! I spit ice cream all over my laptop. :bigsmile:

  25. Profile photo of mlauenstein
    mlauenstein

    As a child, it was obvious to me what Bert and Ernie were. Their constant bickering, their twin beds in the same room and the monograms on their matching beds. They were obviously brothers.

    For some reason their parents were dead, so they had inherited that apartment and they continued to sleep in their childhood beds.

  26. Profile photo of marknsprmo
    marknsprmo

    two people that live together for 40 years and depend only upon each other for everything including companionship, health care, shared household duties, share a bedroom, and do not pursue outside relationships are a couple. I will go so far as to say even if those two WERE brothers, they have moved beyond siblings. There are many sexless marriages out there but no one would think to NOT label a man and a woman as a heterosexual couple if they lived together for that long and depended upon each other in the same way even without sex.
    Removing the sex part (we are talking about a childrens tv show after all) does not remove in any way the fact that these two people operate as a unit.
    When we are discussing a male/male or female/female couple we say they are a gay couple. If we are talking about a male/female couple we say they are straight. Children can certainly understand those things without having to explain about what happens in the bedroom. Children can grasp emotional connections.

  27. Profile photo of Bob Lamm
    Bob Lamm

    gslam and Jamey–totally with you. The fact that people are SO troubled by something being alleged about two PUPPETS is such a vivid illustration of the pervasive homophobia of our culture. If only people were 1/10 as upset about Tyler Clementi and so many others committing suicide and all the gay bashing attacks and killings on the streets.

  28. Profile photo of Divatude58
    Divatude58

    [quote=mlauenstein]As a child, it was obvious to me what Bert and Ernie were. Their constant bickering, their twin beds in the same room and the monograms on their matching beds. They were obviously brothers.For some reason their parents were dead, so they had inherited that apartment and they continued to sleep in their childhood beds.[/quote]

    I don’t know whether you meant this to be sarcastic or not but this is also what I thought about these two. They were brothers and I often wondered what happened to their parents. LOL. I never dawned on me that people thought that they were gay. I never did. And not because I didn’t know what gay was as a child. But just that their relationship didn’t come off that way. Now if they had ever kissed or had any romantic talk then I would have known. Because that is what gay people do just like straight people. Or so my childhood mind thought.

  29. Profile photo of RebeccaJ
    RebeccaJ

    [quote=fmat55]
    I must have missed something. Who said all male/male and female/female roommates of the world are gay? This is about how viewers see Ernie and Burt (2 muppets). If I choose to view them as gay and the next person chooses to see them as vegetarians and the next person chooses to see them as ugly muppets, who is right?[/quote]

    That’s my point. Obviously ppl are saying they’re gay based simply on the fact that they’re roommates of the same sex.

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