LGBT culture describes the social paradigm by which lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer individuals sometimes identify. Celebrated in modern culture as "LGBT pride" (sometimes abbreviated simply as "pride") is the celebration and promotion of the self-affirmation, dignity, equality, and increased visibility of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people as a social group. An added I for initialisms, Q standing both for questioning and queer, or + to encompass spectrums of sexuality and gender can produce an elongated initialisms of LGBTIQ+ or other variations thereof. In the United States, LGBT Pride Month takes place annually in June (coinciding with the commemoration of the Stonewall riots, which occurred at the end of June 1969). Several different flags symbolize LGBT Pride, with the most common and internationally recognized flag being the six-colored rainbow (ironically displayed in "straight" lines).
Producers of Sesame Street have promoted that "Sesame Street has always stood for inclusion and acceptance." The show has denied speculation over the nature of Ernie and Bert's relationship and, like many children's shows, avoided featuring any same-sex couples or references to non-traditional relationships due to social and political pressure throughout the 20th century and early decade of the 21st century. A subtle departure from this appears in the song "We All Sing with the Same Voice," which contains the lyric, "I've got one daddy, I've got two."
Sesame Workshop and Sesame Street have celebrated LGBT Pride Month annually on their social media channels since 2017 with various Pride posts on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook throughout the month of June. These posts often use the imagery of the rainbow or pride flag along with messages supporting families and love of "all shapes, sizes and colors."
In a 2018 video for Sesame Street in Communities, Abby's blended family observes a wall of photos of different families. Rudy acknowledges a picture of a male, homosexual couple, by counting the two daddies in the photo. In 2020, a "Big Bird's Road Trip" segment featured in Episode 5011 showed a girl from Georgia sharing a picture of her two mommies.
Miss Piggy gave a "snout-out to the gays" in the November 2011 issue of Out, a popular gay and lesbian lifestyle magazine; Piggy shared ten very brief, personal notes on her connection with the gay community. Additionally, on November 17, 2011, while in New York City to promote The Muppets, Miss Piggy walked the red carpet at the OUT100, an event honoring LGBT visibility, held at the Skylight SOHO.
Miss Piggy also appeared as a guest at a fundraising event in December 2011 for The Trevor Project, a non-profit organization, focused on suicide prevention efforts among lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning (LGBTQ) youth. In a pre-recorded message Piggy remarked "On behalf of moi's self, Kermit, and all of the Muppets — we support you... we believe everyone deserves kindness, respect and decent treatment."
The 2015 television series The Muppets featured several acknowledgements of LGBT culture. In "Pig Girls Don't Cry," Fozzie comments on his dating efforts stating that "when your online profile says 'passionate bear looking for love,' you get a lot of wrong responses." He quickly corrects his wording and says "Uh, not 'wrong.' Uh, just wrong for me." Later, in the episode "Hostile Makeover," Pepe comments that he too gets the feels for Josh Groban and when everyone else acts shocked by the statement, Pepe comments, "What? He's a handsome man, and gender is fluid."
In June 2020, Kermit the Frog appeared on "Can't Cancel Pride," an online special (due to in-person celebrations being canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic) which supported diverse LGBT organizations.
“I love green. Ok, I know that is not a big surprise, after all that's who I am and, as the saying goes, I was born this way. But I mostly love green because it can be about so many other things, like the Earth and nature and being naturally who you are. To me it also means loving yourself, loving you family, and loving who you want to love. As you can probably tell I come from a family of frogs and I love 'em but once I dropped my tail and grew up I found another family to love — the Muppets. Yeah, we're all very different — pigs and bears and chickens and whatevers — but what matters is that we love and care about each other and that's what makes us family.”
—Kermit the Frog
In the Muppets Now episode "Due Date," openly gay drag queen RuPaul guest stars, and is referred to with both he/him and genderneutral they/them pronouns by the characters throughout their segment together.
The Muppet Babies reboot episode "A Tale of Two Twins," challenges perceived and socially established gender stereotypes. And while the show's regular back-and-forth transitions from the characters' reality to their imagination are usually visualized with a rainbow-colored circle radiating outward, each instance that Scooter and Skeeter switch places (and clothes), these transitions are depicted by a rainbow-colored tornado surrounding the duo.
- The Dinosaurs episode "I Never Ate for My Father" serves up an allegory for homosexuality, among other societal issues, when Robbie Sinclair tries to keep his very unorthodox vegetarianism a secret from his family, even sneaking off to a counterculture salad bar, a gay bar stand-in.
- Productions within the Jim Henson Company's Henson Alternative brand have often explored adult themes, sexual relationships, and featured homosexuality. The improv shows Puppet Up! and Stuffed and Unstrung have featured gay jokes and characters. The 2007 television pilot for Tinseltown followed the life of Bobby Vegan, an outspoken and struggling entertainer (and a pig), and his life-partner and manager, Samson Knight (a bull). Additionally the webseries Neil's Puppet Dreams featured Neil Patrick Harris and his husband David Burtka in a central role along with references to their relationship and sexuality. Episodes of the Henson Alternative television series No, You Shut Up! have featured references to homosexuality, including in-depth discussions of gay marriage in episode 102 and episode 318 .
See also: Are Ernie and Bert gay?
- Publicity for the "We Are Family" video featuring the Muppets was largely hijacked by conservative groups, saying the project was a vehicle for "pro-gay propaganda." Focus on the Family (a Southern Poverty Law Center designated anti-LGBT hate group) commented that they "see the video as an insidious means by which the organization is manipulating and potentially brainwashing kids."
- In 2002, conservative groups were outraged over rumors of an HIV-positive Muppet being introduced on Sesame Street. The Traditional Values Coalition stated it would "be another propaganda tool to normalize homosexuality in our culture." The rumors were misguided, with Sesame Workshop having no plans to introduce an HIV-positive character on the American show, nor having any plans to introduce a homosexual character.
- In 2012, due to controversies surrounding the fast food chain's positions on gay rights issues, the Jim Henson Company ceased a promotional partnership with Chick-fil-A. In a statement released by the company: "The Jim Henson Company has celebrated and embraced diversity and inclusiveness for over fifty years... Lisa Henson, our CEO is personally a strong supporter of gay marriage and has directed us to donate the payment we received from Chick-Fil-A to GLAAD."
- Garth Brooks' song "We Shall Be Free" was performed in Muppets Tonight episode 102. The song contains the line, "when we're free to love anyone one we choose ... we shall be free." The lyrics have been interpreted as a reference to supporting gay relationships; Brooks won a 1993 GLAAD Media Award for the song. Brooks, a supporter of gay rights, also performed the song at Equality Rocks, a gay rights march in Washington, D.C. in 2000.
- Theater scholar Jordan Schildcrout published the academic article The Performance of Nonconformity on The Muppet Show -- or, How Kermit Made Me Queer.
- Jessica Max Stein wrote The Rainbow Connection: Richard Hunt, Gay Muppeteer, a zine celebrating Richard Hunt's life and career.
- Frank Oz directed the 1997 film In & Out; the film was one of mainstream Hollywood's first attempts at a comedic "gay movie" and was widely noted at the time for a 10-second kiss between Kevin Kline and Tom Selleck.
- The Simpsons episode "To Surveil With Love" from 2010, features toddler Maggie, watching what she percieves as Sesame Street. The program actually shows a gay bar, complete with men resembling Bert, Ernie, Big Bird, and Oscar the Grouch.
- Sesame Workshop's Facebook, September 18, 2018
- Family Bonding - Sesame Street In Communities
- @SesameStreet on Twitter. June 23, 2017
- @SesameStreet on Twitter. June 23, 2018
- @SesameStreet on Twitter. June 24, 2018
- @SesameStreet on Instagram. June 22, 2018
- @SesameStreet on Twitter. June 19, 2019
- @SesameStreet on Twitter. June 26, 2019
- @SesameStreet on Twitter. June 30, 2019
- @SesameStreet on Twitter. June 11, 2020
- @SesameStreet on Twitter. June 24, 2020
- @SesameStreet on Instagram. June 24, 2020
- @Sesamo on Twitter. June 28, 2020
- Bob Thompson, "Miss Piggy rules as a consummate ham (with video)," Canada.com, March 18, 2014.
- Puppet Tears Podcast episode 008 (at 18:52)
- BBC News - US right attacks SpongeBob video
- Tough Pigs: Are Ernie and Bert More Than Just Best Friends?
- Tough Pigs: Weird Science: A Guide to the Romance of Bunsen and Beaker
- Out: The Divine Miss P