Burning Question

Is 'Sesame Street' becoming more gay-friendly?

After a string of gay-friendly guest stars and a controversial muppet tweet, pundits are wondering whether the iconic TV series has an agenda

"Sesame Street" has long been about accepting oneself and those different from you, but recent developments have pundits wondering if the show is making a particular effort to appeal to gay parents. The developments in question: A number of gay and gay-friendly guest stars and skits this season, and a recent, much ballyhooed tweet from Bert (of Bert and Ernie fame) that some interpreted as a coming out declaration. A show representative dismisses the notion that "Sesame Street" producers have made any conscious changes, saying "we've always reached out to a variety of actors and athletes and celebrities to appear on the show." What's all the fuss about?

It certainly seems more gay-friendly: "In its own subtle, perhaps unintentional way, the show's latest season feels more LGBT-friendly than ever," says Melissa Maerz in the Los Angeles Times, from guests like lesbian comedian Wanda Sykes (and "gay icon" Katy Perry) to the recent parody of the gay-tinged HBO series "True Blood." Gay parents are "feeling the love" from "Sesame Street.""Some 'Sesame Street' viewers sense a gay-friendly vibe"

"Sesame Street" has always been inclusive: While Bert's tweet may indeed allude to muppet homosexuality, "it's possible this joke and its insinuations weren't cleared with all 'Sesame Street' brass before being tweeted," says Willa Paskin in New York. And the "rest of the evidence" supporting the gay-agenda theory is not particularly persuasive. Yes, gay families are embracing the show, but that's just because "bighearted 'Sesame Street' continues to do its job: Being inclusive and welcoming enough that everyone can see in it what they want to see.""Is 'Sesame Street' gay friendly, or just friendly?"

The network can't actively seek out a gay audience: No matter what producers are (or are not) thinking, "Sesame Street" and its characters have no choice but to remain officially in the closet, says Tucker Reals at CBS News. The show airs on PBS, a publicly funded station, and if "Bert's Twitter innuendo were to be confirmed," conservative organizations could call on Congress to cut the network's funding. Look what happened to SpongeBob SquarePants when he appeared in a pro-diversity video."Bert and Ernie Gay? Apparently Not"

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