Conservatives Act As If It’s a Punch and Judy Show

Put Sesame Street’s popular and long-standing muppets “Bert and Ernie” snuggling on the cover of the erudite New Yorker ( July 8 & 15)  and what do you get?  Some, like me, think it’s cute and reflective of the majority of this country’s favorable views on same-sex marriage.  It’s an in-joke perhaps because Bert and Ernie were considered a secretly gay couple over the years, although Sesame Street denied the rumor, and said they were merely “best friends” and insisted that puppets do not have sexual orientation.” (Oh yeah, what about X-rated Kermit the Frog and “Miss Piggy?”) However, so many people, 10,000 to be exact, signed an online petition in 2011 urging the “closeted” couple to get married. Everyone loves a wedding.
Are Bert and Ernie Gay?

The cover infers that Bert and Ernie are gay.  They are watching a television set, albeit black and white one, featuring members of the United States Supreme Court with a rainbow flag in front of them.  Presumably, the date is June 26th, when the U.S. Supreme Court struck down Prop 8 and Section 3 of DOMA, defining marriage for only heterosexual couples.  In keeping with the tony magazine, Bert and Ernie are watching Scotus decisions, not “Mob Wives.”

Reflection of the Times

In the past, this cover might have been more suited to Mad Magazine and Alfred E. Neumann’s  apocalyptic visions.  But given the country’s recent momentum toward gay marriage as evidenced by the Supreme Court striking down California’s ban on gay marriage as well as the definition of marriage as only for heterosexuals, the time is now for a clever cover.  Says the artist, Jack Hunter, of his cover “Moment of Joy,” originally submitted to Tumblr, “it’s amazing how attitudes on gay rights have evolved in my lifetime. It’s great for our kids, a moment we can all celebrate.” BuzzFeed and The Huffington Post both described The New Yorker cover “amazing.”

Critics of Sexualizing Puppets

However, not everyone is thrilled with the “Moment of Joy” cover.  Of course, Bryan Fischer, a Christian radio host of “Focal Point” and  Director of Issues Analysis for American Family Association. He does not like homosexuality and criticizes the magazine editors for being “grossly irresponsible.” Fischer believes that Ernie and Bert are depicted in a “homosexual clinch;” consequently, the magazine cover” promotes child abuse and child endangerment.” The homophobe also said similar remarks about gay Boy Scout troop leaders. Fischer also quotes the Regenerus’s study, now ruled as faulty, published in July 2012, entitled “How Different Are The Adult Children of Parents Who Have Same-Sex Relationships?

You Be The Judge

Should Bert and Ernie Come Out?  Did they come out via The New Yorker cover?  Is the cover in bad taste or merely a reflection of the country’s increased willingness to embrace gay marriage? 

What do you think?  Post your comment here.

When Your Child is Gay

When Your Child Is Gay: What You Need To Know

For more detailed advice, see book, co-authored with a mother of a gay son and a psychiatrist, Jonathan L. Tobkes, M.D.

Wesley Cullen Davidson

Wesley Cullen Davidson is an award-winning freelance writer and journalist specializing in parenting as well as gay and lesbian content. For the past two years, Wesley has concentrated almost exclusively on the lesbian and gay community, specifically on advising straight parents of gay children on how to be better parents and raise happy, well-adjusted adults

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