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Why We Need (Openly) Gay Muppets

August 12th, 2011 · 60 Comments

The makers of Sesame Street released the following message today, in response to a Facebook petition that had called for Bert and Ernie to finally come out and get married:

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 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.

Now, I don’t know a lot of “best friends” who share bedrooms in an apartment that size, but fine, let’s roll with that part. What I want to note is that the (presumably somewhat tongue-in-cheek) observation that puppets “do not have a sexual orientation” is just manifestly false. Lots of the puppets on Sesame Street are portrayed as having a “sexual orientation,” insofar as they’re shown in romantic couples.

Oscar has his girlfriend Grundgetta. The Count has been involved with a series of different Countesses. The Twiddlebugs are your standard nuclear family. And of course, there are no shortage of one-off songs and sketches centered on families or unmarried couples. Muppet squirrel girl groups sing about their boyfriends. The human characters Gordon and Susan were married from the outset (and later adopted a child), while Maria and Luis famously got married on the show.

What all of these have in common is that they’re heterosexual couples. Because it’s regarded as the default, that “sexual orientation” is invisible. But, of course, it’s still there—and nobody imagines that simply depicting all these straight couples and families somehow counts as injecting inappropriate “adult” or sexualized material into a children’s show.

What Sesame Street gives us, then, is a picture of reality (in New York, of all places) where loving coupled relationships are exclusively presented as heterosexual. That exclusion is a choice. And the implicit message sent by that choice is that the very existence of same-sex couples is, like swearing or violent street crime, an aspect of urban reality that’s inappropriate for children to be exposed to, unlike all the normal, unremarkable heterosexual couplings depicted on the show.

That omission is not neutral. The refusal to acknowledge the existence of same-sex relationships on a show that otherwise routinely celebrates family is, in itself, a message and a value judgment. It relegates them to the category of shameful or unpleasant topics that are not to be mentioned in front of the children. Obviously, this cannot keep children from noticing that Uncle Ron and Uncle Pete live together, or that Heather from kindergarten has two mommies. But they will surely notice, at least subliminally, that those relationships never seem to make their way into the idealized world of Sesame Street—where the air is sweet, and evidently the sun chases away the gays along with the clouds.

That doesn’t mean Bert and Ernie, or any other particular pair of Muppets, need to have a coming out party. [And to clarify: Having been depicted as best friends for so long, it would probably be a mistake to retcon them as gay.]  It does mean that the makers of kids shows should probably think harder about what message they’re sending when they embed in their scripts a double standard about what types of affectionate relationships are “appropriate” for children to see.

Update: Doug Mataconis articulates what I think is the natural reaction to this kind of argument, which is that “the mission of Sesame Street doesn’t really have much to do teaching children about sexuality at any level.” Whether it’s the “mission” or not, however, that’s what it does. It’s just that when it teaches us about heterosexuality, the teaching is invisible.

As long as human relationships are depicted, though, something is being modeled and taught. We’re learning something about sexuality when Telly contemplates the possibility that Bob and Linda (who, incidentally, was for a long time the most prominent deaf character on television) will get married and have babies. We’re learning something about the nature of family when Herry Monster and his relations sing about the physical features he has inherited from each of them, or when a family of Anything Muppets sort themselves by age and gender. Not teaching about “sexuality” in the broadest sense is just not an option as long as recognizably human couples and families are shown with any regularity.

That doesn’t mean there needs to be overt discussion of sexuality, any more than the presence of black characters requires an explanation of the horrific conditions under which African slaves were transported to the new world, or how their ancestors won civic equality decades later. It just means that having a cast with human characters of multiple races is a choice, even if “race” is never discussed, and a choice that implicitly “teaches” something different from a show where non-white faces are never glimpsed, or where characters of different races are present, but never interact (even if, again, this fact is never mentioned). If the show had nothing but Muppets, of course, the question wouldn’t arise at all. But if, for 40 years, every human adult or child face on the show were white, we would not be much impressed with the defense: “Well, it is not Sesame Street’s mission to teach kids about race relations.” If the ideal community represented by Sesame Street were 100% Anglo-Saxon in a country that’s about 64% non-Hispanic white, the complete absence of race relations would be teaching kids something about race relations. That’s one reason Sesame Street has always maintained a diverse human cast—and taught kids something precisely by showing all these friendly neighbors who don’t ever have to bring up the topic of race.

Update II: From the comments:

I’m a straight, 42 year old, at home father of a 4 year old girl. She happens to have 2 loving aunts that have been in a committed relationship for over 10 years.
Watching Sesame Street a few months ago she actually asked me why there is “nobody who look like aunt Erin and aunt Sara”.

Just one data point. But it does suggest kids notice when certain types of families are conspicuously absent from a show that is often about families.

Tags: Art & Culture · Journalism & the Media · Sexual Politics


       

 

60 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Why We Need (Openly) Gay Muppets - Empty Closets - A safe online community for gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgendered people coming out // Aug 12, 2011 at 1:14 am

    [...] We Need (Openly) Gay Muppets http://www.juliansanchez.com/2011/08…y-gay-muppets/ [...]

  • 2 Sesame Street Producers: Bert And Ernie Won’t Be Getting Married, And They’re Not Gay // Aug 12, 2011 at 10:48 am

    [...] Sanchez laments the producers decision: It’s worth pointing out, I think, that the (presumably somewhat tongue-in-cheek) observation [...]

  • 3 no // Aug 12, 2011 at 2:20 pm

    I don’t understand your demand that every show have some kind of proportional representation of everything humans get up to.

    Omission is not denigration!
    If it were, every show or book ever would denigrate the vast majority of people.

  • 4 Julian Sanchez // Aug 12, 2011 at 2:52 pm

    That’s a straw man. I’m not suggesting every program has to reflect the full global variety of humanity. I am suggesting that if, over the course of 40 years, every human character on the show had been white (on a series nominally set in New York City), you might very reasonably start to wonder just what exactly was going on. It would be unremarkable if the show were all puppets and no humans, but if they *did* show scores of humans, every last one white, you’d probably find this unusual. (Or maybe, if you’re white, you wouldn’t… but otherwise you’d certainly notice.)

  • 5 Anon // Aug 12, 2011 at 2:54 pm

    I agree with the “omission is not denigration” comment above.

    This argument is ridiculous when you consider the ages of the children watching it. I’m a father of 4, and my 3 oldest each outgrew Sesame Street by the age of about 3 years old. My kids amaze me with their intelligence, daily. That said, they’ve never made any association to the romantic inclinations of the puppets on the show and in fact understand them to BE PUPPETS, not humans or anthropomorphic animals.

    In this instance, I daresay they’re more intelligent that the folks who signed the petition.

  • 6 Mystrunner // Aug 12, 2011 at 3:25 pm

    Bert and Ernie aren’t about romance, or relationships, they’re about friendship, friendship between two very different people. I don’t see any reason to change something that’s been so beloved for decades. If they want a gay couple in Sesame Street, then create two new muppets. I’d be fine with that.

  • 7 Doug // Aug 12, 2011 at 3:27 pm

    Ok, but just not Oscar the Grouch. That would leave me with no appropriate heterosexual male role model.

  • 8 Joshua // Aug 12, 2011 at 3:29 pm

    Do you hate PBS? Do you really want to give people another reason to kill it? Sesame Street is a great show that does good work, not everything in the world needs to make an active political statement. You should grow up.

  • 9 Julian Sanchez // Aug 12, 2011 at 3:36 pm

    Is it “political” when Sesame Street shows cast members of diverse ethnic background being friends? Was it political to have deaf character who communicated with the others via sign language for 20 years? Or were those part of the “good work” you’re referring to?

  • 10 Jeff // Aug 12, 2011 at 3:37 pm

    Julian, you may personally not think its inappropriate to expose young children to the realities of homosexual relationships, but I am sure there is a substantial bloc of parents and (perhaps more importantly) public television donors out there who do. Maybe the show’s writers do indeed need to think harder about the implicit judgements their writing makes, but perhaps also there are certain internet writers and busybody facebook petitioners need to think harder about the context in which the show’s writer’s are laboring.

    PBS might not be a for-profit company, but that doesn’t mean it can afford to ignore public perception. And among a still pretty wide swathe of the public, having a show aimed at pre-schoolers which features two homosexual puppets is going to be perceived as inappropriate.

  • 11 Mystrunner // Aug 12, 2011 at 3:43 pm

    Julian, is it wrong for them to not have Bert and Ernie be gay? Is there a problem with introducing new muppets? Otherwise, wouldn’t it be similar to suddenly establishing that big bird is Korean? Or Oscar is in favor of small government?

  • 12 Yeek // Aug 12, 2011 at 3:53 pm

    Very good points Julian. Unfortunately, I think Jeff has homed in the answer: people don’t like gay people enough to have their relationships tacitly displayed on a children’s show.

    Just as the mixed-race melange of human characters never would have been tolerated on a children’s television show in the 1950s and early 60s, gay characters are ‘bad taste’ today. It was unfair and stilted then, just like it is now – but it’s not changing until the grownups have finished their fight.

    The only good news is that progress happens one funeral at a time. When the toddlers of today are finally parents, we just MIGHT have made enough progress to try. No promises.

  • 13 Joel // Aug 12, 2011 at 4:00 pm

    Jeff hit the nail on the head, disregarding the implications that could cause to the network is just being naive.

  • 14 JEA // Aug 12, 2011 at 4:00 pm

    There is certainly a place for a gay character on Sesame Street. BUT, 1) Sesame Street REFLECTS our culture, it doesn’t advocate nor should it; and 2) even if it WAS, Bert and Ernie are not the characters to do it.

    To suddenly introduce a sexually-oriented relationship which up to this point has not been one smacks of playing politics with childrens’ TV.

    I would certainly not expect Dora, or Joe from Blues Clues, or Big Bird, Winnie the Pooh, or Curious George to suddenly have a sexual orientation – those are already established characters with clearly defined limitations and characteristics, and everybody knows what they are – and are not.

    The same thing applies to Bert and Ernie.

  • 15 Tony Bullard // Aug 12, 2011 at 4:01 pm

    I started reading this post with a “Come on, why do they NEED to come out?” thought process, but you did make a very good point, about the fact that hetero is portrayed as normal, and thusly “non-existent”.

    But maybe they’re intentionally avoiding controversy. While you may think there is nothing wrong with homosexuality, many do. I’m not saying that’s right, but is it sensical for a kid’s educational TV show to make a move that will likely make half it’s audience disappear? You may say, “Screw those close-minded a-holes” But it’s not the a-holes that lose out, it’s the kids. The kids miss out on SesameStreet, which I think we all agree would be terrible. While SS may not blatantly support homosexuality, it certainly does teach that everyone is different, and that’s AWESOME. If they start openly supporting homosexuality, then they’ll lose the audience that needs that message most, the children of homophobes.

  • 16 Julian Sanchez // Aug 12, 2011 at 4:02 pm

    Mystrunner-
    As I say in the post, my point is NOT that Bert & Ernie should be gay. My point is that it’s disingenuous to claim that Muppets are asexual and the show teaches nothing about sexuality when the program has depicted heterosexual couples and families, human and Muppet, for 40 years.

  • 17 Brent // Aug 12, 2011 at 4:06 pm

    I’m thinking along the same lines of Mystrunner. The question of whether Bert and Ernie should come out as gay is a different one from whether Sesame Street should integrate LGBT characters/families into their cast. Bert and Ernie–as close, straight male friends–do a lot of good already by countering unhealthy masculinity norms that would suggest their intimate friendship is somehow unnatural. Perhaps the better response would be for Sesame Street to introduce new LGBT characters and couples into the mix. I agree with your point, Julian, that one of this show’s (perhaps unintentional) impacts involves shaping childrens’ sense of social reality. Sesame Street has an inherent responsibility in that regard, which shouldn’t be casually dismissed as political correctness.

  • 18 Kriesa // Aug 12, 2011 at 4:17 pm

    I’ll grant you the Twiddlebugs as a nuclear family, but Grundgetta and the Countess always came off as completely lame attempts to bring some girls into muppet-world. As if girls only existed as counterparts and pale imitations of boys. I believe that in more recent years Sesame Street has introduced some female muppets who aren’t attached at the hip to established male muppets. But they aren’t nearly as interesting as the original (all?) male muppet cast. They seem like they are there to “even things up”. I think it would be a mistake to make Bert and Ernie gay to likewise “even things up”.

  • 19 Anon // Aug 12, 2011 at 4:17 pm

    @Yeek
    Your comment seems to imply that tolerance and indifference are always the enlightened or superior points of view. I’d argue that too much of either is at least as dangerous to a society as not enough.

  • 20 Yeek // Aug 12, 2011 at 4:17 pm

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GWbweOyYLEE

    Just take a look at the audience. Whoo-eeeee.

  • 21 Yeek // Aug 12, 2011 at 4:25 pm

    Well, anon, I suppose you could say that tolerance, indifference, and apathy are all close cousins: one is fair and pretty, one is so-so, and one is morbidly obese and headed for a quick doom. As the saying goes, vices are only virtues carried to excess.

    For the record, I do not believe that indifference or tolerance is always enlightened or superior. I’m only discussing two examples here: the lack of non-white characters in 1950s children’s TV and the lack of gay characters today.

  • 22 Verbal Hooligan // Aug 12, 2011 at 5:36 pm

    I’m a straight, 42 year old, at home father of a 4 year old girl. She happens to have 2 loving aunts that have been in a committed relationship for over 10 years.
    Watching Sesame Street a few months ago she actually asked me why there is “nobody who look like aunt Erin and aunt Sara”.
    We live in NYC, and think it’s about time THE educational show on TV presents life as it is. Muppet or human, it’s time for the street to acknowledge same sex couples.

    They have covered HIV, and death. Not to cover a certain section of love in life is not helping our children.

  • 23 no // Aug 12, 2011 at 6:55 pm

    I totally agree that it is cool if they ‘cover’ homosexual behaviour. It is a part of people’s lives and it may fit into what they want to do with the show.

    But the writers know what they want to do with the show, and I think there’s something wrong with saying what they should be doing.
    Let it lose touch and fail to address these issues if it wants to.

    If you want to see content on TV that addresses gay relationships, try to make it happen in a productive way.
    But I don’t like some kind of committee deciding what is suitable for television shows, and I don’t like a committee deciding what has to be on each, or a particular, television show.

  • 24 Julian Sanchez // Aug 12, 2011 at 7:17 pm

    What committee? I’m a guy with a blog making a suggestion; the authors of the show can do what they want.

    Also, I’m not saying there should be “content that addresses gay relationships”really, unless you consider it “content that addresses Judaism” when characters wish Mr. Hooper a Happy Chanukah in passing, or “content that addresses race relations” when Gordon, Luis, Maria, and Bob are depicted as friendly to each other. Ideally the word “gay” wouldn’t need to be spoken at all. You’d just occasionally see a male or female couple with a child as one of the many, many examples of “a happy family” the show routinely presents, without anyone having to call special attention to it.

  • 25 Suzy // Aug 12, 2011 at 9:43 pm

    Your argument no longer matches your title, though. We do not at all need “openly gay muppets”. Rather, we need the occasional normal depiction of same-sex human couples without further comment. I agree with this. I know there’s already a Sesame Street song about families which says that any group of people living together, loving and caring for one another, is a family. I don’t recall whether any same-sex couples with kids are included in the accompanying montage. Perhaps one of the many single human characters could be presented one day as having a same-sex partner. But to my knowledge, there are only 2 married couples there anyway, so if both are hetero that doesn’t seem like a shocking representational exclusion of same-sex marriage.

    The muppets are another story. The sexual life of Twiddlebugs, despite their name, is not explored. Oscar and Grundgetta are not making out in a can. Bert and Ernie are not adults who could conceivably get married. They’re still children–yes, kids living in an apartment together without parents, but that’s what happens on a make-believe show for wee little tots. They’re kid versions of the Odd Couple. The demand to see them as a gay couple is so stereotyped as it is–doesn’t that bother you? Why not Big Bird and Snuffleupagus, for example, two males who also have a close, loving relationship?

    If poor representation is your problem, where’s the concern about females, who are only latecomers to the muppet group, and far less interesting and frequently featured as the others?

  • 26 eh whatever // Aug 12, 2011 at 11:17 pm

    At least Rod and Ricky were able to get married. ;p

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Gq3jVODVKEA

    @Suzy; If Bert and Ernie were long time female companions… we’d likely still be having the same conversation. Gay politics *does* fit within feminism even from the male perspective of it.

    The gender hostility is unneeded — as it’s all interrelated and we could help each other up rather than fighting to climb upon each others backs to rise above it. — It does sound as if you’re suggesting we can’t stand shoulder to shoulder at the top without pushing someone else, another group off.

    Though I do question if it’s a greater threat to queer identities and even some hetero identities in our modern times … to suggest Bert & Ernie are straight.

    As queer identities become more recognized in society … there seems to be a greater need *for everyone* to define and push people into neat little boxes… of what is and what isn’t.

    There are as many straight people bashed for being perceived as queer as the rest of the lgbt/i/q.

    And some parents are even … when their girls prefer blue and their boys prefer pink …

    questioning their sexuality or gender identities even when their children are as young as two.

    It isn’t just the queer communities that recognize something within Bert & Ernie or Jerry Farwell that saw something within the teletubbies… which sparks enough collective outrage to debate all this.

    to which we could also say Sesame Street isn’t just for children… even if they’re the primary target group in this.

    Although acknowledging even in some small way that Bert and Ernie is a healthy representation of a gay household would be a powerful symbol for many — specifically as it is reflective from the outside of many queer (gay/lesbian) relationships — nobody really knows … yet in this age many people would likely assume.

    If the creative team left it to be questioned it probably would have blown over — but instead they made it into a political fight by denying it.

    It’s understandable, particularly when the various hiv-positive muppets (there has been more than one — all female characters, btw, that rivaled Elmo in their personality and presence.) made their way into the scene — and there was a wave of paranoia with the thought something like those characters could be brought to the u.s. … and even then, many of the critics believing it part of the homosexual agenda.

    But whatever, so rage on sister, rage on..

    strong female characters might not conform enough to their sense of gender roles and may be perceived as lesbians – so maybe that’s why you don’t see them on the show. ;p

  • 27 vanderleun // Aug 13, 2011 at 12:27 am

    Go for it Julian. The sooner it is begun the sooner the whole crooked edifice and show will tank. You go girl!

  • 28 framling // Aug 13, 2011 at 4:12 am

    they also need a crazy bird with machine gun once in a while, decimating the show population. a serial rapist. and another terrorist type, just for completeness. oh and funerals. that would be fun!

    these things happen! kids should be aware of it. that’s life.

    i mean, they don’t have to be part of the daily show, but it would help these days. seriously…

    oh and what about same sex friends? if you make those two gay, you’re ignoring the fact that two males can be best friends, but not really gay. and that group should be represented too. in fact, i think that’s more common. no data on that, but just a hunch.

    come on…, don’t mess it up for some political correctness rubbish.

    oh and…are you a parent? or is this is one of those battles you’re fighting for other people’s benefit, with no background in the cause you’re fighting for? but you just _know_ that it’s the right thing to do? i’m sure you’d have better things to do if you had kids.

  • 29 “H” is for Hypocrisy — IGF Culture Watch // Aug 13, 2011 at 9:00 am

    [...] came as news to blogger Julian Sanchez, who points out that many muppets of the opposite-sex variety often romantically date or pine for one another, and [...]

  • 30 KipEsquire // Aug 13, 2011 at 11:05 am

    FWIW, I also found it outrageous and unforgivable that “Star Trek” never found the courage to show a simple, unambiguous, human same-sex relationship, even with guest characters.

  • 31 Yeek // Aug 13, 2011 at 11:10 am

    @ Framling –

    I get the sarcasm, but it’s also pretty telling that you use examples of a homicidal killer, a rapist, and a terrorist as your hyperbolic examples. These are all antisocial, dangerous, predatory people who no sane person would ever want any child exposed to. Unfortunately, that’s how many people see homosexuals as well.

    SS has to make the cut somewhere, and I think they aim for positive or at least neutral examples of society. Obviously homosexuals are seen as something that does not fall into that category by many, and so we won’t see that change for a long time. I think the comparison to rapists and killers and scenes of funerals is an unfair one, but I doubt you’d agree with me there.

    Oh – and it’s not relevant that Julian has or does not have kids, and it’s not relevant whether you happen to be gay or straight. Your arguments will either stand on their own merits or they will not.

    @ Julian – you say: “Ideally the word ‘gay’ wouldn’t need to be spoken at all.” It’s hard for me to imagine what else could be said about Bert and Ernie to imply that they are a same-sex couple. I mean, look at them:
    – they live in the same house
    – they have pictures of each other on the wall
    – they bicker like an old married couple
    – they do everything together

    Now, kids don’t care what kind of official remark PBS makes. They are clearly seeing an example of two males living together in an intimate setting that probably reminds them a lot more of their own parents than the way “two best friends” would live. Let’s face it, other muppets may have the occasional love interest come and go, but Bert and Ernie clearly have something different and more permanent. Quite frankly, I think PBS is probably aware of these and simply plays it safe when asked to make a statement on the subject (let’s face it, these statements are for the parents, not for the kids).

    And now, just for laughs:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z1R8zrVuWP4

  • 32 Tim // Aug 13, 2011 at 2:22 pm

    Reply on LibraryThing: http://www.librarything.com/topic/122077

    The core of this argument boils down to a point, with which I agree, but which I don’t think should determine the argument.

    “That omission is not neutral. The refusal to acknowledge the existence of same-sex relationships on a show that otherwise routinely celebrates family is, in itself, a message and a value judgment.”

    As I said, I agree with this. Now let’s consider what other similar judgments the show sends.

    How about religion? Some 92% of Americans believe in God. Somewhere between 30 and 40% of Americans regularly attend religious services at a church, mosque, synagogue, etc. Similar percentages of children pray before going to bed, and of families say grace before eating. Religion is a integral part of real life for a large chunk of American families.

    Now, have you ever seen a Sesame street character talk about God? Go to church? Pray before going to bed? Does the Cookie Monster say grace before gobbling down those cookies?

    Of course not. Religion is absent from Sesame Street as nowhere else in America. Sesame Street is not a mirror of society here. And let me tell you why: Because if the show did that non-religious people–or people of other religions than the one they chose to highlight–would object. If Sesame Street characters prayed before eating some atheist family would have to deal with it when their child started up a prayer at the dinner table.

    And you know what? The non-religious would be right to object. So long as Sesame Street aims to appeal to the broadest possible American audience, and contain no messages that a parent would need to explain, it must avoid touchy topics. Religion is one such topic. So Sesame Street is a world without religion. For now and for the forseeable future homosexual partners are another such topic. The omission is in both cases real, but there is a reason it is there.

    Lastly, if I could craft the show for my own child, it would include both religion and homosexual partners. Both of part of my child’s world. I don’t want him to think either are unusual, and I certainly don’t want him to think either is wrong. But you know what? That show wouldn’t do so well. Maybe I don’t get to decide this for everyone else.

  • 33 Julian Sanchez // Aug 13, 2011 at 4:04 pm

    Suzy-
    My understanding is that Bert & Ernie are, in fact, adults, and that the CTW has said as much. (This is more obvious when, e.g., Bert’s young nephew comes to visit, and Bert is clearly acting as a parental stand-in.)

    Framling-
    I really hope you aren’t the one responsible for teaching literacy to your children.

  • 34 Julian Sanchez // Aug 13, 2011 at 4:28 pm

    Tim-
    That’s actually not true. Religion is not an overt or major part of the show, but it is there. It’s made clear on several occasions that Mr. Hooper is Jewish, and that some of the others celebrate Christmas. The nativity story has been depicted on the show twice (most recently with Bert in the role of Joseph), and earlier this year the special “It’s Passover, Grover!” aired. Maria and Luis were married by a priest.

    And I think that is, indeed, the correct approach: Kids don’t need extensive theology lessons from a children’s show, but it does acknowledge (without making a huge deal of) the existence of people of different faiths who are all respected members of the community.

  • 35 tde // Aug 13, 2011 at 7:23 pm

    jeebus, what about Miss Piggy chasing Kermit around all the time?

    Pig/frog lust is okay, as long as it’s hetero pig/frog sex.

  • 36 On Sesame Street and Gay Marriage — The League of Ordinary Gentlemen // Aug 14, 2011 at 1:19 pm

    [...] take, contra Julian Sanchez, is that Bert and Ernie should not get married A) because the show’s creators say [...]

  • 37 james // Aug 14, 2011 at 7:03 pm

    Maybe seseme street isn’t the best one to start.. But we do need SOME show that has homosexual role models. I feel sorry for the thousands of kids that have same sex parents with no show to watch living in a similar situation.

    Also i know plenty of straight couples that would like some as well. To kind of take the edge of and get their kids a bit more used to it so its easier to explain it to them. And so the kids can know and accept it later on. But Seseme street i think is too young. A show with maybe a same sex parents or couple. Not SEXUAL by ANY means. But just there as characters, would be a smart move for a 6-10 year old demographic. It would help same sex couple feel more included. It would help STRAIGHT couples to show homosexuality in a normal light, not in the massive anti-pro media lime light thats going on all the time. But normal, subtle characters that can show kids that its good to accept all people.

    Again, i think seseme street may be too young to start with. At the very youngest i think 6 or so is a good time for kids to start learning about how to accept people. This way you can sit them down and explain the context to them.

  • 38 Gay Muppets — The League of Ordinary Gentlemen // Aug 14, 2011 at 9:55 pm

    [...] misread Julian Sanchez’s post and unfortunately mischaracterized his argument because of it. I still think we disagree, on some [...]

  • 39 lipstickandteeth // Aug 16, 2011 at 3:03 pm

    I really value this well-written, clear and calm explanation of the way in which heterosexuality is made invisible and thus normalised, while homosexuality is constructed as more “sexual” and therefore inappropriate for children to be aware of. Julian: bravo for balancing the serious implications of this with a sense of humour about the fact that we are talking about muppets.

    A lot of the comments seem to be from people who haven’t actually read, or perhaps haven’t understood, the post.

    James – you seem to have really good intentions. In my experience, though, waiting until kids are 6 to start deliberately teaching them to accept people is effectively spending 6 years implicitly teaching them that some people (in this case, heterosexuals) are just so normal that accepting them is automatic.

  • 40 Doug // Aug 17, 2011 at 5:38 pm

    Five’ll get you ten that a committee decides what goes on the show.

  • 41 Episode 147 – Rainbow Connection? | Dyscultured on WordPress // Aug 18, 2011 at 9:39 am

    [...] we need openly gay muppets… I thought we already had [...]

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  • 44 kyle // Jul 21, 2012 at 11:55 am

    If sesame street introduced openly gay characters, my young children would be watching something else.

  • 45 Amanda-Beth // Sep 16, 2012 at 1:47 pm

    I’m not saying you’re right or wrong. However Bert and Ernie are friends nothing more I know because I was born in 85 and have enough younger siblings that the show is still somewhat relivent to me. I know because on several ocaasions they have been dipicted as being Christian. Should they or shouldn’t they add one. I don’t know frankly my mind always wanders to my younger neice the older neice has out grown this my littest sister 4 almost 5 and while she has some issues and my nephew who is youngest. These three and to lesser degree my severely disabled 8 yr old brother. How would they react to the unfimillar to them? I see my nephew stairing at my sis who is 4 in half yrs younger then me. I see mt younger neice shrugging it off. Im hoping the 8yr old doesn’t still watch his reaction would not be good. My 4 yr old sister would tell are 16 yr old brother and probably cry herself to sleep. For now ss formula seems to work for target audience. I would not want to shock my little loved ones most whom would take it poorly. You can not change forumla of any preschool show with out a problem. It’d ve better if this is really needed which I wont judge on to include it in new preschool show on nick jr. Pbs is not the right place and Disney would never air such a show. I personally see the need for more diversty in preschool shows however I do not know if preschoolers or younger really need to see same sex marriage or couples. That’s my 3 cents.

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    Different race and sexual orientations are not the same. Sexual orientation is a choice. I highly doubt your daughter asked you that either. Keep being a beta male.

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