A front-page story in the Tuesday edition of The Wall Street Journal reports that the animated series SpongeBob SquarePants, currently airing on the Nickelodeon children's cable network, has a huge following among gay men. "There is his innocence," says clothing designer Alex Fung about the animated character, an optimistic sponge who lives beneath the sea. "He's not very masculine for a male character. And he's soft."
While series creator Stephen Hillenburg, who isn't gay, says the characters are portrayed as asexual, he understands why gay men love the show. "Everybody is different, and the show embraces that," he says. "The character SpongeBob is an oddball. He's kind of weird, but he's kind of special."