As fans have suspected for years, it turns out the world’s most beloved puppet roommates are more than just friends, according to a new interview with former Sesame Street writer Mark Saltzman by LGBTQ lifestyle website Queerty.
“I remember one time that a column from The San Francisco Chronicle, a preschooler in the city turned to mom and asked ‘Are Bert and Ernie lovers?’ That coming from a preschooler was fun, and that got passed around, and everyone had their chuckle and went back to it,” Saltzman told the outlet.
He compared his own relationship with acclaimed editor Arnold Glassman to the characters. “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 contextualize them. The other thing was, more than one person referred to Arnie and I as ‘Bert and Ernie,’ ” Saltzman recalled.
However, Sesame Workshop tweeted a statement denying Saltzman’s assertion hours later.
“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 tweet reads. “Even though they are identified as male characters and posess many human traits and characteristics (as most Sesame Street Muppets do), they remain puppets, and do not have a sexual orientation.”
Of course, Bert and Ernie are pop culture icons. They even covered The New Yorker in July 2013, which Saltzman referenced in his interview. More recently, the duo remade the theme song of The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, which skyrocketed Will Smith to fame. In the Muppet version, they rap about how they met.
“I said, ‘hello’ when I got near,” Bert sings in the video, released on Sesame Street‘s YouTube channel. “He said …”
“Oh what’s that? I got a banana in my ear,” Ernie adds.
“Wanna be friends who laugh learn and share?” Bert responds. “Ernie pointed to the chair and said …” as Ernie continues, “Sit right there.”
“One half of a whole, one half a pair,” Bert sings.
“This is the story of how we became Ernie and Bert. What a pair,” Ernie concludes.