Thursday, September 1, 2011

September 2011

Rejoice, Poppets! One of the greatest controversies of out time has been laid to rest: Bert and Ernie are not gay! I know; this has been keeping you up nights. Me, too!

Or not. However, the issue has been put to rest. With the legalization of same sex marriage in New York, an online petition was launched demanding Bert and Ernie be married on Sesame Street.

 Personally, I think children’s shows should start addressing non-traditional families. Hell yes. Children need to learn that their families, and their friends’ families, are valid and valued, regardless of make-up. Given my deep and long-standing love and respect for Sesame Street, I hope they are the ones to do it. The human beings in charge of the show, however, have made the official announcement that, if they address the issue of LGBT families, it won’t be through Bert and Ernie. Because they aren’t gay.

I’m okay with this. Not because I think kids’ shows should be sexless; I don’t. We deal with mommies having babies and mommies and daddies becoming parents, as appropriate. Not that I think puppet characters can’t be sexual; I don’t. Kermit and Miss Piggy have had a thing for years – as have Gonzo and the chickens, which is far weirder than two gay Muppets, in my opinion. No, I’m okay with this because I do believe boys need to be taught that it is okay for them to have deep, meaningful, emotional, platonic relationships with other boys. We were kind of, sort of taught this in the ‘70s – I remember because I was there, learning it – but we lost sight of it somewhere along the line. We are back to needing to teach boys it’s okay to love other boys, regardless of orientation. Bert and Ernie are good for that.

 So Muppets, gay or straight, aren’t the issue I have here. The issue I have is with the petition itself. The fight for recognition and equality and the petition that gets all the attention is about Muppets? If you believe same sex marriage is a major milestone within the community or if you believe it is a distraction from bigger problems, you have to wonder about this. Okay, maybe you don’t. I do, though.

If we’re going to be discussing same sex marriage, let’s talk about it the context of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell (DADT). Because even once DADT is repealed later this month, the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) still stands and because of DOMA gay partners of gay soldiers don’t get the same benefits as their straight counterparts. No, they don’t have to hide any longer. The partner just doesn’t officially exist. No legal standing, no i.d., no benefits, no housing or commissary access.

Sure, the repeal of DADT is new and all the details haven’t been worked out yet, but DADT ends this month. There are still military families in limbo, in half-space, because without DADT they exist – but with DOMA, they don’t exist.

If we’re going to talk about same sex marriage, why aren’t we talking about this? Why aren’t we yelling about this? Why are we focusing on a couple of puppets?

Again, I love those puppets. I know first hand how important Sesame Street and the Muppets are. But come on. If we’re going to have the dialogue, let’s make it matter.

Until next month, Poppets, take care of you.

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