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‘Sesame Street’ Celebrates Pride Month, But How LGBTQ-Friendly Is the Show?

Sesame Street, the long-running children’s educational TV show, commemorated pride month last week with a sly Twitter post featuring monster muppets arranged in a rainbow. The tweet read: “Sesame Street is proud to support families of all shapes, sizes and colors.”

Although the post didn’t explicitly mention LGBTQ people, the rainbow-colored photo, its inclusion of the word “proud” and its publication before the final pride weekend all communicated its acknowledgement of the queer community. But is Sesame Street really a queer-friendly place, or was their tweet just a way to wink at LGBTQ viewers without committing to actual inclusion?

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Sesame Street’s 2017 pride month tweet

Muppet roommates Bert and Ernie have long been rumored to be gay: They sleep in the same bed, occasionally take baths together, were once depicted as a gay couple celebrating marriage equality on a 2015 cover of The New Yorker magazine and Bert once described his mohawk hairdo as more ‘mo,’ than ‘hawk.’

But in 2011, Sesame Street issued a statement that the two were just best friends and that “muppets do not have a sexual orientation,” a statement which ringed hollow considering the years-long romance between Miss Piggy and Kermit the Frog.

Sesame Street has no openly LGBTQ muppets, but the South African version of the show has featured an HIV-positive muppet named Kami since 2002, a way to educate children about the region’s ongoing epidemic.

The show has also featured many openly gay and lesbian celebrities like Neil Patrick Harris and Wanda Sykes and has done a sexless parody of the very gay HBO series True Blood (video below).

The show also once partnered with the notorious anti-gay fast food chain Chick Fil-A by providing toys for their childrens’ meals, but Sesame Street ended that partnership after Chick Fil-A’s president voiced opposition to same-sex marriage. Following the split, Sesame Street‘s CEO donated all their profits from the partnership to Gays and Lesbians Allied Against Defamation (GLAAD).

So while Sesame Street isn’t likely to explicitly mention LGBTQ relationships on the air anytime soon, it’s at least acknowledging that LGBTQ people exist in understated but significant ways.

  • Oliver Phonglehorn

    The Chick-fil-A partnership was with The Jim Henson Company, not Sesame Workshop. The Henson Company builds the puppets for Sesame Street, but they’re two separate entities and Henson has nothing to do with producing the show.

  • John Heizer

    Wow. You need a better fact-checker. Bert and Ernie do not sleep in the same bed. They share a bedroom, but not a bed.

  • joe fiore

    This article is so incredibly factually wrong on several issues that I wonder if any of it can be taken seriously

  • joe fiore

    Between that factual error and the error that says the Bert and Ernie share a bed, I have to wonder how much on this site is correct and how much of it is factually wrong