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Why Using Bert & Ernie to Celebrate Marriage Equality Doesn’t Make Sense


DISCLAIMER: This is NOT a post about anyone’s beliefs, opinions, ideas, thoughts, or otherwise on homosexuality or same-sex marriage. This is a post about how some media outlets–in this specific case, The New Yorker–are celebrating marriage equality. Understand upfront that comments that are hateful and offensive to anyone will not be published.

So, The New Yorker released its July 8-15, 2013 cover this morning, “Moment of Joy.”

“Moment of Joy” depicts Bert and Ernie, two Sesame Street characters who also are longtime friends and roommates, snuggling together on a couch as they look at the United States Supreme Court Justices on a television screen.

It’d probably be a heartwarming picture, if, you know, Bert and Ernie were actually gay.

Maybe I could jump on the bandwagon if Sesame Street hadn’t already made an official statement about the puppets’ sexual orientation (or, lack thereof):

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.

Even though they are identified as male characters and possess many human traits and characteristics (as most Sesame Street Muppets do), they remain puppets, and do not have a sexual orientation.

Sure, lots of people have speculated for lots of years that Bert and Ernie might be gay.

Meaning, Jack Hunter (the artist) and The New Yorker have taken a popular speculation (that Bert & Ernie are gay) & turned it into an image related to recent marriage equality rulings.

Why The New Yorker is using this image as a public statement, despite what Sesame Street has said, is beyond me. Why everyone is celebrating this image without stopping to ask if there isn’t a much better, more accurate way to celebrate marriage equality success, is also beyond me.

Again, and in case you didn’t read the disclaimer, this isn’t about what anyone thinks about marriage equality; it’s about using something that’s false to celebrate something that’s true: that love is love, regardless of gender.

Huffington Post calls the image “amazing” and Think Progress says it’s a “striking nod to the role that pop culture has played in changing public opinion about gay couples.” Other outlets, like Lady Gaga’s Born This Way Foundation, are posting it to their Twitter and Facebook accounts at rapid speed.

Yes, I realize what I’m saying isn’t the popular response to this picture, but I believe the popular response is actually just a knee-jerk reaction.

If we’re going to celebrate this monumental step toward marriage equality, I believe the LGBT community deserves something better than an image–no matter how artistic or poignant–based on the idea that a couple of puppets might be gay.

Why Using Bert & Ernie to Celebrate Marriage Equality Doesn’t Make Sense

Alicia Sparks

Alicia Sparks is a freelance writer and editor and the creator of, where she blogs to help new freelance writers get their quills in the pot, so to speak. Among animal rights, music, and physical wellness, her passions include mental health and advocacy. Here at Psych Central she works as Syndication Editor as well as authors Your Body, Your Mind, Unleash Your Creativity, and World of Psychology's weekly "Psychology Around the Net."

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APA Reference
Sparks, A. (2019). Why Using Bert & Ernie to Celebrate Marriage Equality Doesn’t Make Sense. Psych Central. Retrieved on September 30, 2020, from


Last updated: 23 Mar 2019
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