By: Shannon Ralph
As a child of the seventies, I grew up on Sesame Street. That quintessential childrens’ show taught me colors. Taught me to count. Taught me how to to sing. Taught me about sharing and friendship and respect. Thirty-five years later, the show is teaching my young children the same beneficial lessons. It is because I have such a fondness for Sesame Street that I was drawn to a recent news story about two of my favorite characters, Bert and Ernie.
An online petition signed by more than 4,300 people is calling for Sesame Street to either allow Bert and Ernie to have a gay wedding or introduce a gay or lesbian character on the popular children’s show. The petition at change.org says, “We are not asking Sesame Street to do anything crude or disrespectful…It can be done in a tasteful way. Let us teach tolerance of those that are different.”
The muppet pair have shared a home and a bedroom for decades. However, a Sesame workshop statement said: “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 the Sesame Street Muppets…possess many human traits and characteristics, they have no sexual orientation.”
Honestly, I don’t think I have an opinion one way or another about Bert and Ernie getting married. I think it’s interesting that 4,300 people are concerned about the love life of a muppet. Perhaps I have too much on my plate right now to care. Regardless of my own indifference, it is 2011. Gay people exist and we’re certainly not going anywhere. Gay marriage will be a reality in this country in my lifetime and most certainly a routine occurrence in the lifetimes of my children. It can’t hurt to talk about making Sesame Street a LGBT-friendly place so that every child out there understands that all people deserve love and respect.
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