Over the weekend, The New Yorker republished its 2013 Bert and Ernie “Moment of Joy” cover that was originally released for its “July 8 & 15 2013” edition. At the time, the Supreme Court had overturned the Defense of Marriage Act because Section 3 was deemed “unconstitutional.” The cover presented Bert and Ernie as a gay couple snuggled up together in front of the TV happily hearing for the first time the news.
Why was the cover problematic at the time? Why is it still problematic today?
For decades, adults and even children have wondered about the sexual orientation of these two seemingly “male” puppets. Many LGBT+ people have related to Bert and Ernie as a couple because the two live together and often act like a romantic couple. On the other hand, many have also considered the “relationship” a “bromance.” Yet, in 2011, The Sesame Workshop officially announced that Bert and Ernie are just best friends and that the puppets do not have a sexual orientation.
Even if this was merely an attempt by The Sesame Workshop to not have Sesame Street get sucked into the same-sex rights debates, as some believe, their statement is the final word on the matter. As many have pointed out, the representation isn’t a form of queerbaiting. Alexei Beltyukov agrees that the puppets were originally designed to merely show that two dissimilar best friends can live together.