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Because They Are Not Gay! What 'Forcing' Bert And Ernie To Get Married Teaches Us About Homophobia

Posted: 08/12/11 09:52 AM ET

There is at least one petition out right now with 5,000 signatures requesting that Sesame Street puppets Bert and Ernie get married.  You've probably read about it and maybe it seems like harmless amusement from people whose heart is in the right place in the realm of gay-marriage rights.  There is just one problem.  Bert and Ernie are not gay.  The producers of Sesame Street have said as much.  Since Bert and Ernie are fictional characters, said producers are the final word on such a subject.  Want to know how I know Dumbledore is gay, even though not one reference to his sexuality is made during all seven Harry Potter books?  Because JK Rowling told me as much.  She created the character and if she says he's gay, then he's gay.  And if the producers of Sesame Street say that Bert and Ernie are merely platonic friends living asexually in the same apartment, then one must accept them at their word.  Bert and Ernie are not gay, therefore there is little-to-no chance that they are in the kind of romantic relationship that brings about marriage, thus they should not be getting married.

But they are two guys living together!  But they are both well-dressed, polite, and neat!  But they obviously aren't family and seem to spend much of their time together!  So obviously they are secretly gay, right?  No.  I discussed this back in January 2010 (Click here), but the answer is still no.  Sherlock Holmes and John Watson are not homosexuals.  Batman and Robin don't make-out in the Batcave after the last villain is sent to Arkham.  Sam is not Frodo's unrequited gay lover.  Charles Xavier and Erik Lehnsherr do not secretly have the hots for each other.  Time and time again, we of the pundit class constantly decide, no matter how thin the evidence, that any two men or boys who have any kind of friendship or emotional attachment to each other are clearly involved in some kind of homosexual relationship.  Hell, in my younger days, I made the Bert/Ernie jokes as well as part of a larger rant about the unusual demographic makeup of Sesame Street (i.e. you have an obsessive-compulsive eater, a six-foot bird with gender-identity issues, a homeless, depressive hoarder, and a vampire!).  But this kind of wink-wink, nudge-nudge foolery masks a deeper strain of homophobia at its root.  And its acceptance by those who wield critical and societal authority teaches a horrible lesson.

By the constant need to ascribe homosexual leanings to any two men who happen to be in the same room together for more than a few minutes, we are in fact teaching a terrible lesson to society and especially to young men.  We are in fact teaching them that any kind of emotional connection between two males is in fact 'gay'.  We are teaching that any kind of emotional connection between male fictional characters is to be ridiculed and considered 'queer'.  No, there is no such thing as two men or young boys being close friends and even having an emotional connection.  Nope, they OBVIOUSLY have to be secretly gay and/or in love with each other.  Bring that down to a societal level, especially one such as ours that still often punishes homosexuality, and you have an entire generation of men and boys who are convinced that being friends with another 'dude' on any level other than surface-level will cause them to be called out as 'gay'.  And, if it must be said, this kind of automatic presumption of homosexuality is indeed an insult to actual gay men.  It is insulting both in its content (it doesn't take real homosexuality seriously) and its reaction (the constant teasing and mockery).  Sometimes, two guys hanging out together, be it for solving crime or teaching the alphabet, are really just friends.

Bert and Ernie are just friends.  I know that because the producers of Sesame Street told me so.  Does the Gay Rights Movement really want to be seen as forcing two men to get married irrespective of their actual say in the matter?  Just because they are close friends who both happen to be male doesn't meant that they are secretly lovers pining to get married.  In a nation where real gay couples are unable to get married in their home state, it is an insult and a cheapening of their real love to demand that two fictional television puppets get married just because they fit into certain gay stereotypes.  There is plenty of work left to do in the struggle for equal rights for the LGBT community.  Those involved (and those who support their struggles) surely have more important things to do then forcing two unwilling Muppets to tie the knot.  And they certainly don't want to send the message to men everywhere that a man can't be kind and friendly to another man without being considered homosexual.  Real men, regardless of sexual orientation, can be friends with other men.

Scott Mendelson

 

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