Dear Sesame Street PTB,
Hey, guys. You know I love you and all. And you know that no matter my jokes and the stories my friends and I spun the night the bill passed, I never really expect Bert and Ernie to get married. Oh, I expect you to have gay characters eventually, but I know that it will likely be with some human characters. I hope we don’t have to wait for my (hypothetical) grandchild to see Gina’s son Marco bring his boyfriend home from college, but I do have faith.
That said? Your response to people asking about it when New York legalized same-sex marriage, to say that “they remain puppets, and do not have a sexual orientation”? This is, to put it nicely, a bit disingenuous. To put it less nicely, it is a steaming pile of poo.
We have, thus far on the show, met Humphrey and Ingrid, the parents of Baby Natasha, and Elmo’s mother and father. Indeed, on Elmo’s World segment depicted a (greatly sanitized and imagined) Elmo’s birth, albeit with Elmo playing the parts of both mommy and daddy.
(Hey, don’t look at me, you wrote the segment.)
And while marriage and family do not prove heterosexuality (*waves*), I’m pretty sure that most people, including you, see a nuclear family of mom, dad, and biological child. They may not be thinking about exactly how the muppets procreated (well, most of them aren’t anyway, although to each their own), but there is an assumption of procreation, which is to say gettin’ it on, there. They may be puppets, but you are, in fact, pretty much depicting sexual orientation. You’re just depicting the majority sexual orientation, the default, unmarked sexual orientation.
For crying out loud, the entire storyline of Kermit and Miss Piggy has been about nothing BUT sexual orientation. After 30+ years of depicting puppet heterosexuality, you don’t get to say, “puppets don’t have sexual orientation.”
If you don’t want to have gay muppets, okay. I wish you would, but I do actually understand the position you’re in right now, with public television on the chopping block and everything you do under scrutiny. But own it, okay? Just say you’re not ready to deal with it yet, or that Bert and Ernie are friends and always have been. That’s okay, too. But don’t pretend that the countless examples of heterosexuality you depict don’t matter, don’t count, aren’t real, just because they’re the majority. You guys are better than that.