Sesame Street is denying a claim that its classic characters Bert and Ernie are a gay couple.
Mark Saltzman, who spent several years writing for the children's television show, said in a new interview with Queerty that he saw Bert and Ernie as "a loving couple" while he wrote scripts for the program.
"I always felt that without a huge agenda, when I was writing Bert and Ernie, they were [a couple]. I didn't have any other way to contextualize them," said Saltzman, noting that he mirrored the characters off his own same-sex relationship.
"I don't think I'd know how else to write them but as a loving couple."
The interview was posted Sunday but has gained enough traction to warrant a response from Sesame Street, which posted a statement on its social media handles:
"As we have always 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," the statement reads.
"Even though they are identified as male characters and possess many human traits and characteristics (as most Sesame Street Muppets do), they remain puppets, and do not have a sexual orientation."
In 2013, a New Yorker cover depicted Bert and Ernie as supporting two gay rights decisions made by the Supreme Court.
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