In the grand tradition of the Tinky Winky Teletubby, who was constantly dogged by speculation that he is gay, fellow pre-school characters Bert and Ernie from Sesame Street too have been battling rumors that they’re a closeted gay couple. The chatter picked up tremendously in the past few weeks with online petitions asking for the two roommates to get married, prompting the producers of the PBS children’s series to issue the following very awkward statement:

“Bert and Ernie are best friends. They were created to teach preschoolers that people can be good friends with those who are very different from themselves. Even though they are identified as male characters and possess many human traits and characteristics (as most Sesame Street Muppets do), they remain puppets, and do not have a sexual orientation.”