Sesame Street: What’s Missing? A Gay Character
Dear Sesame Street,
Hearty congratulations on your Divorce Toolkit. As an adult child of divorced parents, your videos of Abby dealing with her “big feelings” struck a nerve – and touched my heart. It reminds me of the massive response to Sesame Street’s I Love My Hair video from back in 2010, where a little brown muppet sang the praises of her natural hair.
Photo via Muppet.wikia.com
Your show is expert at teaching kids complex issues in such a sensitive way that you manage to also tweak the hearts of us adults. I love you Sesame Street.
But now let’s get on with things. It’s time to queer up. The absence of any LGBT content on your show is becoming a glaringly obvious omission, and it’s time to change that. We know of course what some might say: Queerness and preschoolers do not mix. It’s too controversial. But that’s actually false because THIS is the reality:
1. It’s 2013. The President is on your side.
President Barack Obama made history when he mentioned Stonewall and gay rights in his inaugural speech last month. Then, an 11-year old trans kid, Sadie, made an Internet splash when she wrote to Obama to say: ‘don’t forget us trans folks!’ Which brings me to point #2.
2. It’s 2013. The Internet is on your side.
Queer teens have near cracked the code on how to go viral – come out in an awesome way and the world loves you for it. The online words of children of queers inspire tears of sweetness everywhere. So go for it, Sesame Street: the President and the Internet have your back. Which brings me to point #3.
3. Don’t worry about One Million Moms – nobody cares.
4. Don’t be outdone by Disney, please!
This is what you are Sesame Street, you are the anti-Disney Princess – a much needed alternative in a Princess-obsessed preschool world. How many parents cheered when Justice Sonia Sotomayor told Abby Cadabby that being a princess in not a career? So, Sesame Street, how come Disney has aired a family with lesbian moms and you haven’t? (Though I am convinced heads rolled at Disney after that one snuck by the execs, I have no proof.)
5. Sesame Street’s strength has always been diversity, and it always will be.
If you have a muppet who is food insecure, and another one who is HIV positive, you can have character(s) that fall somewhere in the LGBTTQ spectrum. As I said earlier, at this point identifiably queer characters are so blatantly missing from your show, you need to make up for lost time.
You need to muppet-up, Sesame Street.
Here are my ideas:
1. Abby is going through a lot of changes because of her parents’ divorce. The obvious question is: how come Abby’s parents got a divorce? Does daddy love another man? Has mommy decided she wants to live with another mommy?
2. You can always come up with a new muppet who is a trans kid, or whose parents are queer. But if you want to develop an existing muppet: I think Rosita is a strong candidate for a trans muppet – one who could go either way as a kid who is already living MTF or is an FTM wanting to come out. Also, according Muppet.wikia.com, Zoe’s mom has never appeared on the show – but she has (at least one) dad. Could we just give her another one?
P.S.: You’re welcome for not stating the obvious about Bert and Ernie. I know your show’s position on the matter. We’ll just have to agree to disagree.
Meri Perra lives with her partner, two daughters, tiny cat and massive cargo bike in Toronto’s downtown east end.