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THE true nature of Bert and Ernie's very special friendship has been a hotly-debated mystery ever since the iconic children's show first aired in 1969.

Many were convinced the two lovable characters who shared a basement apartment on 123 Sesame Street - but slept in different beds - were gay lovers.


With their adorable bickering and easy chemistry, every TV series from Friends and The Simpsons to Family Guy lovingly painted them as partners too.

Now, after decades of speculation, one of the show's writers has lifted the lid on its most famous and beloved characters.


Mark Saltzman, who joined the Sesame Street team in 1984, has revealed he did indeed write Bert and Ernie as a gay couple.

He told Queerty the characters reflected his own same-sex relationship with film editor Arnold Glassman at the time.

Saltzman, a script and songwriter on the show, said he wrote them as a loving couple, news.com.au reported.

He added: "I remember one time a preschooler [in San Francisco] turned to her mum and asked, 'are Bert and Ernie lovers?' and that, coming from a preschooler, was fun.


"That got passed around, and everyone had their chuckle and went back to it.

"And I always felt that without a huge agenda, when I was writing Bert and Ernie, they were. I didn’t have any other way to contextualise them."

Bert and Ernie have been a permanent staple of the show since appearing in the 1969 pilot episode

The news had been a long time coming for many in the LGBT community who see Bert and Ernie as gay icons.

After same-sex marriage was legalised in New York, fans of the show set up a petition asking the show's creators to have Bert and Ernie get married on screen, according to Pink News.

Sesame Street then released a statement saying that the characters were "best friends" and were "created to teach preschoolers that people can be good friends with those who are very different from themselves".

The statement added: "Even though they are identified as male characters and possess many human traits and characteristics, they remain puppets and do not have a sexual orientation."

The puppet pair also found themselves at the heart of a fierce debate about discrimination and religious beliefs in 2015.

A baker in Northern Ireland refused to bake a cake advocating gay marriage with their faces on it.

Saltzman told Queerty that he would tell people the duo were based on him and Glassman, adding: "I was Ernie.


"I look more Bert-ish. And Arnie as a film editor — if you thought of Bert with a job in the world, wouldn’t that be perfect? Bert with his paperclips and organisation?

"And I was the jokester. So, it was the Bert and 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 and Ernie dynamic."

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