I’m sure you have seen the now infamous Bert & Ernie “New Yorker” cover. It shows the two roommates hanging on the couch watching what looks like the supreme court on the old boob tube. They look to be in a quiet celebration of the Supreme Court’s overturning of DOMA on a 5-4 vote. Most people saw this cover and smiled because, let’s be honest, we all know that Bert & Ernie are gay. (Sure, the creators say things like “They are pre sexual” or “just friends” but we all know whats up. Hello!? Batman & Robin!?) Most of us felt happy seeing this image because now maybe they can just be a normal couple like Kermit the Frog & Miss Piggy. Who are far more freaky as a couple, by the way.
The Twitter-verse exploded with comments both positive and negative. Over 12,000 of them! I couldn’t believe it. How could this possibly be offensive to anyone? They are Muppets! I didn’t see this sort of uproar when Big Bird made the cover of Time, or when Beaker & Honeydew graced the cover of Wired. I didn’t notice a national meltdown when Animal was featured on the cover of Rolling Stone. I guess the reason why people are upset is because many American’s still think Gay = Bad. Well, it doesn’t.
Being offended at homosexuality is over. OVER. You are not cool if you are offended by gay people. You are just offended. And go ahead, be offended. That is your choice. (Unlike being gay, by the way.) You could choose to ignore it, or you could choose to enjoy it. You can even choose to let it ruin your day. That’s all on you. But whatever you choose, just remember gay people are not going anywhere. So, get used to it. There will be more gay people on TV, and not limited to “very special episodes”. There will be gay comic book characters, super heroes, and princesses. The closet doors of America are swinging open whether you like it or not. So, think about how you want to handle this new reality.
Oh, and saying “The gay thing doesn’t offend me, but the use of children’s characters to promote a political side is just wrong…” is a total cop out. There is nothing “wrong” with Bert & Ernie being gay. There are gay people in the world, and most kids already know a bunch of them. They probably have gay teachers and gay friends. That’s right, there are even gay kids out there. Wouldn’t it be nice to let THOSE kids have role models too? We need to do more than just “teach” kids about gay people. It marks gay as different which needs to stop. Just think, if it were Kermit & Piggy on that cover, would it have upset anyone? I doubt it.
Gay people have put up with tons and tons and tons of “straight” imagery over the years. They’ve seen magazine covers with Posh & Beck, a naked threesome (of bloody bad actors) from True Blood, Tom & Nicole, Tom & Katie, Tom & Penelope… you get the idea. I bet some of them were even offended. But, gay people aren’t allowed to get offended at straight couples because straight is “normal”, normal for straight people. We need to remember – not everyone in the world is straight, or christian, or smart, or awesome.There are people out there who disagree with everything you believe in. And that is 100% O.K. Believe what you like, and let me do the same. It’s when you start trying to restrict the rights of those different than you that you start to get into trouble.
I’ll be honest, I am offensive sometimes and I am totally ok with it. I don’t mind offending people, they’ll get over it. Being offended isn’t the worst thing in the world. Personally, I try to only take offense at things that actually matter. Like civil rights denied a group of people for centuries. That offends me. The idea that children need to be shielded from homosexuality – THAT offends me. Preaching “christian values” while villainizing millions of men and women –THAT offends me.
Seeing a couple of Muppets in a cuddle? Well, that just makes me smile.