The nature of the relationship between Bert and Ernie is once again under scrutiny -- this time, due to differing labels in their Twitter bios.
A Twitter user, Valondar (@VK_HM), captured a screen shot of the divergent appellations for the Sesame Street characters. Ernie's bio claims he is the "friend" of Bert, while Bert's says he is the "roommate" of Ernie.
Bert and Ernie, longtime roommates on the PBS children's show, have long been perceived to be a gay couple by members of the LGBTQ+ community, who saw the nature of their relationship as coded for a less tolerant time. This theory seemed to be confirmed by gay Sesame Street writer Mark Saltzman, who asserted they were a "loving couple" in 2018.
Afterward, Sesame Workshop -- the nonprofit organization that produces Sesame Street -- pushed back against Saltzman's assertion and maintained that they were just "best friends." The comment incited some controversy on social media by fans who believed the pair were being closeted.
Valondar's tweet -- and the competing labels in the puppets' Twitter bios -- once again renewed speculation and critique of PBS. "They're boyfriends and even the little kids watching Sesame Street know it," wrote Twitter user Michael Healy.
"PBS: Gay rat wedding," wrote Ancient Onyx. "Also PBS: aggressively insists two unrelated men who live together and say they love each other aren't gay."
In a follow-up interview with The Advocate, Saltzman reflected on how he was happy that his interview sparked a conversation about LGBTQ+ representation in kids' shows -- and how Bert and Ernie can still be a beacon for rainbow families, regardless of what publicists say.
"When it comes to Bert and Ernie, it's two guys who love each other and live together. For a kid being brought up by two dads, well, how great, 'My dads are like Bert and Ernie,'" he said. "For kids who are teased or bullied in preschool, they can say my dads are like Bert and Ernie."