Decades of speculation are over and we can finally sleep soundly.
Former Sesame Street writer Mark Saltzman has confirmed what we’d all assumed to be true – two of the show’s most recognised characters, Bert and Ernie, were written as a gay couple.
Saltzman told Queerty he wrote the pair based on his own relationship with film editor Arnold Glassman, who died in 2003.
“I always felt that without a huge agenda, when I was writing Bert & Ernie, they were [gay]. I didn’t have any other way to contextualise them. The other thing was, more than one person referred to Arnie & I as ‘Bert & Ernie.'”
He said he was the Ernie in their relationship, and his partner Arnold was Bert, so it was only naturally that the on-screen pair mirrored his real-life relationship.
"It was the Bert & Ernie relationship, and 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. I wrote sketches… Arnie’s OCD would create friction with how chaotic I was. And that’s the Bert & Ernie dynamic," he said.
"That’s what I had in my life, a Bert & Ernie relationship. How could it not permeate? The things that would tick off Arnie would be the things that would tick off Bert. How could it not?"
But... Sigh. The Sesame Workshop, the nonprofit organisation behind Sesame Street, has refuted Saltzman's claims in a statement on Twitter.