A writer for the long running television series "Sesame Street" has stated that his earlier comments implying that Bert and Ernie was a same-sex couple were misinterpreted.
In a Sunday interview with the LGBT publication Queerty, Sesame Street writer Mark Saltzman said that he drew from his personal experiences of being in a same-sex relationship when writing for the puppet duo.
"I always felt that without a huge agenda, when I was writing Bert & Ernie, they were. I didn't have any other way to contextualize them," said Saltzman to Queerty. "I don't think I'd know how else to write them, but as a loving couple."
However, in an interview with The New York Times published on Wednesday, Saltzman explained that his recent comments were taken out of context.
"As a writer, you just bring what you know into your work," explained Saltzman. "Somehow, in the uproar, that turned into Bert and Ernie being gay ... There is a difference."
In a statement posted to Twitter on Wednesday afternoon, Sesame Workshop, the nonprofit behind the long-running children's television program, explained that the two puppets were not gay, but rather "best friends."
"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," stated Sesame Workshop.
"Even though they are identified as male characters and possess many human traits and characteristics ... they remain puppets, and do not have a sexual orientation."
As of Wednesday morning, the post about Bert and Ernie has gotten more than 31,000 likes and over 9,900 shares, as well as a flurry of comments positive and negative.
According to Snopes, rumors that the two Sesame Street characters are a same-sex couple go back at least as far as the early 1980s, with the nonprofit behind the kids program periodically releasing statements denying the allegations.
"Bert and Ernie, who've been on Sesame Street for 25 years, do not portray a gay couple, and there are no plans for them to do so in the future. They are puppets, not humans," read a prepared statement from 1993, as quoted by Snopes.
"Like all the Muppets created for Sesame Street, they were designed to help educate preschoolers. Bert and Ernie are characters who help demonstrate to children that despite their differences, they can be good friends."