Back in June, Bert from the popular Sesame Street duo Bert and Ernie posted a seemingly-innocent entry on Twitter: "Bert: Ever notice how similar my hair is to Mr. T’s? The only difference is mine is a little more ‘mo,’ a little less ‘hawk.’"
"Mo" is considered slang for male homosexual within the gay community, and the post was made during Pride Month (as well as the release of The A-Team movie). Gay bloggers rejoiced that Bert was coming out of the closet, and once again the relationship between Bert and Ernie - who live and sleep in the same room - was called into question.
Here is the quandary: Sesame Street is written with a certain ignorance to make it easy for children to understand and learn while they watch. Within the script, Bert and Ernie are just friends and have one bedroom - what's the big deal? However, Sesame Street is also written by sharp writers that often poke fun and pop culture and sneak in references for parents watching - kids don't watch True Blood (hopefully), but Sesame Street has riffed on it nonetheless.
It's a delicate dance, but Sesame Street usually does it well. They were lauded recently for a segment in which an African American girl sings about loving her unique hair. As AfterElton.com notes, they also had a character to HIV in the 90s to help children understand what the dominating discussion in the world at the time was about.
Now, as more and more gay couples become parents, it would make sense that Sesame Street makes a nod in their direction to support the kids watching. PBS had attempted it before in 2005 in an episode of "Postcards from Buster" that featured lesbian parents. As the LA Times reports, conservative pundits had a field day and may have led the PBS CEO at the time to step down.
PBS has previously stated that "Bert and Ernie do not portray a gay couple, and there are no plans for them to do so in the future. They are puppets, not humans." So it could be a while before there is a homosexual puppet on Sesame Street, but in the meantime the famous street has had its share of gay celebrities - Neil Patrick Harris and Wanda Sykes among them.
What is a certainty, however, is that Sesame Street will continue to nurture social discussions among children. As more kids are raised by parents of the same sex, the gay discussion will grow louder and Sesame Street will most likely be a part of it.