Bert and Ernie should come out? Seriously?

The level of discussion on the gay rights (as the issue is framed by those supporting gay marriage) issue has always astounded me. I mean, it seems apparent that many people in this country, now divorced entirely from the idea that there exists a transcendent set of values set by God which make sense and should order the basis of our morality, are ready to proclaim gay relationships as being equal with heterosexual relationships. Apparently, sexuality is merely a question of which cup of tea a person prefers without any reference to a greater reality.

While I disagree, I understand where the people who support gay marriage are coming from. After all, to a large extent it is difficult to say why we should keep gay people from marrying if marriage is no more than a contractual relation between two individuals which entitles them to certain legal protections. The fact that there is a great deal of difference between the commitment to fidelity in many gay marriages and the typical standard for heterosexual marriage is of little consequence. The fact that studies exist which show that homosexuality can be much worse for the mental health of the individuals involved is also discounted as irrelevant. After all, marriage is about letting two people in love commit to each other in marriage and nothing more, isn't it?

But now some people are pushing to have Bert and Ernie come out of the closet.

You all know Bert and Ernie -- the lovable puppets from Sesame Street who have been entertaining children for decades. As those who have watched the show with any regularity know, Bert and Ernie are roommates. Yes, they live together.

So naturally, Bert and Ernie must be gay, right?

I really don't know when it became the case that everyone became defined by their sexuality. This idea that people cannot be friends, in fact, that they cannot love each other, without being gay is a puzzle to many of us. But some people believe this. These same people who somehow think that love between people of the same sex requires them to be homosexual is largely behind the belief that the Biblical King David was a homosexual lover of Saul's son Jonathan.

Fortunately, most people in America don't see it this way. Love is not always sexual. A person can love another person of the same sex without either the need or the desire to express that love sexually. Some people don't understand that, and these people somehow need to use any such relationship where two people of the same sex express a love for each other as an opportunity to push the view that they must be gay. It may be that they are suppressing their gayness, but they must be gay to have a loving relationship.


But even so, must we politicize and sexualize our children this way? Most children watching Sesame Street are under five years of age. They know nothing of sex (unless they have been mistreated or abused) and have no interest in the gay-straight marriage debate. So, why are we trying to shove this down their throats? Why are we taking two beloved characters of childhood and trying to turn them into political tools in a debate that does not concern these young viewers?

Is it really about introducing the children to a gay couple on Sesame Street so that they are more "tolerant" of gay people? I doubt it. It is more than that. It is trying to use a children's program watched and enjoyed by millions of children as a tool to promote the social/political views of a minority (granted, a growing minority) of the people -- a view that is contrary to the moral teaching of virtually every society over the last 2,000 years.

And if Bert and Ernie come out of the closet, will that be enough? Or will we need to have other children's shows characters declare their gayness? Will Batman and Robin come out next in support of NAMBLA?

Bert and Ernie? Seriously? Don't we have better things to do?

Addendum 6/28/2013: Following the SCOTUS decision striking down DOMA as unconstitutional, the New Yorker (pseudo-sophisticated trash that it is) decided to revisit the "Bert and Ernie are Gay" meme by creating a magazine cover that suggests Ernie reclining with his head on Bert's shoulder. This is nonsense. There never has been a suggestion on the show itself that Bert and Ernie are gay. This is more of the typical projection that one has come to associate with this kind of thinking (similar to the projection used by those who try to argue that the accounts in the Bible about King David show that David and Jonathan were gay).

Seriously, just because you want them to be gay doesn't mean they're gay. And please, let's leave the kids out of this. They will have to deal with this nonsense soon enough.


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Jason Pratt said…
The lack of tact in making such a suggestion is especially shocking when one considers that Bert and Ernie are prepubescent children (or anyway they're minors) and may be brothers.


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