That’s how “All Things Considered” summarized the press release issued by Sesame Street last week. The wind you hear is the sound of straight men all over the country sighing with relief. Golf outings and poker games can now go forward without signifying anything in particular about the romantic inclinations of the participants, or the absence of same. And this is a very good thing.
I think I understand something of what’s been motivating the well-intentioned folks petitioning Sesame Street to permit Bert and Ernie to get married on TV. But I’m old enough to remember a simpler time when the only ones hysterically projecting sexual feelings onto puppets and cartoon characters intended for preschoolers were people like Rev. Jerry Falwell. He made the following claim in 1999 about Tinky-Winky, a character on a BBC program (“Teletubbies”) produced for toddlers:
“He is purple — the gay pride color, and his antenna is shaped like a triangle — the gay pride symbol,” Falwell wrote. “The character, whose voice is that of a boy, has been found carrying a red purse in many episodes and has become a favorite character among gay groups worldwide.”
Tinky-Winky, later reached for interview by Salon.com, explained:
“We love each other very much,” he says [referring to his three costars]. “Big hug. But it’s not like that. It was a kids show, know what I mean?”
Yes, we do. So there’s a new rule here at Notes and Rests: it is only the people opposing equal rights for gay people who are allowed to hijack puppets and cartoon characters in the interest of effecting social change. Gay folks don’t need that kind of “help.” It only hurts the cause by feeding into the worst fears of those who see the “gay agenda” lurking behind every tree. So to all who share my desire to see a world where grown-ups are free to follow their hearts in loving and marrying whom they choose, I say this: let children be children. Let’s do all within our power to preserve the bright line between those who reason hysterically and those who do not. And let’s keep to the correct side of it.