Bert & Ernie Can’t Hug In Peace

28 Jun

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All of the responses to this piece of Tumblr art–now New Yorker cover–is indicative of the fact that two men can’t show affection without the entirety of modern civilization demanding answers of them.

Nothing in the artwork is indicative of a sexual relationship. I don’t see any muppet junk. There is nothing lurid going on. Bert is holding Ernie and they’re watching SCOTUS on their television (SCOTUS appearing wistful like a grey beach fog).

There is certainly an implication between all of the subjects. There is a muted joy about the whole thing. I think it’s beautiful and bizarre, which is my favorite combination of things, and I think it is an affecting piece of artwork because everyone has an opinion about the relationship between these two muppets.

Let’s challenge those gut opinions here and now. What business is it of mine if Bert and Ernie have sex? What business is it of mine if they have male genitalia? If they present as male? If they are genderless?

I think of all of these assumptions as the same poison that keeps bubbling up every single time there is a discussion or a debate about people who just long to be comfortable in their own skin.

Gay people can fall into this trap. June Thomas writes

Bert and Ernie clearly love each other. But does Ernie suck Bert’s cock? I don’t think so.

And I respect her, but what an ugly sentiment.

I want you to look at that cover again, mentally strip away all of the junk in your head about people being correctly gay, correctly male, correctly this and that, and look at it again, and realize that it’s a picture of two beings hugging each other surrounded by darkness.

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