This was interesting to listen to. I didn’t even know about this whole conversation going on online but I’ve heard this said before. Mostly around middle school when it was used as a joke of sorts, another one of many ways that teen boys try to shove away all that “kiddy” stuff and the toxic sort of idealities that can pop up at the time. But I never gave it much thought myself.
I never really watched too much Sesame Street so I never thought about them much. I watched a few episodes as a kid and I recognize the characters but I never thought too much about it. I suppose for me, I’m fine with either way of going about it. I understand why Sesame Street made the statement they did officially, and I’m not personally upset with them over it, I get that companies kinda have to be away from any thing that can pop up like that, though I think they should have accepted it rather than deny. I don’t have enough context on a personal level to think of if I see them as a gay couple but I can totally see why people feel that way having seen some clips as I’ve gotten older. And I think even if they weren’t originally created as gay characters, if different writers have intended them to be that over the years, then maybe they are now. Not everyone is aware of their sexuality at the same point and I would think that even as they would likely be classified as “adults” by technicalities, that later in life perhaps they found that they are gay and love each other to a more romantic degree rather than as best friends. I like that idea certainly, and I think that’s because it is a bit of a mirror for myself, much like how Lauren mentioned that she always saw them as a gay couple because she had family in that relationship already. I didn’t know I was bisexual until relatively recently and so I think that Bert and Ernie being gay now is perfectly fine and good as something they’ve accepted for themselves after their history together.
The first thing that came to mind for me listening to this too was a somewhat similar conversation that’s happened in the Fire Emblem fanbase for a while, centered around Ike who people may know from his appearances in the recent Smash Bros games. It’s a long explanation for both sides of it but there are a few conversations and the epilogue that people point to as saying that Ike and Soren, his tactician, are in a relationship with one another.