The recent New Yorker cover with the picture of Bert and Ernie cuddling on the couch in front of a black and white screen showing the Supreme Court Justices, which is intended to be a celebration of the end of DOMA and a cute nod to the idea that Bert and Ernie are a gay couple, is super offensive to me.
Sesame Street says they're not gay. Specifically, the Children's Television Workshop and the puppeteers themselves have responded on multiple occasions that (variously) they do not have sexual orientations, that they are puppets and not people, that they were based on the relationship between Jim Henson and Frank Oz and are thus a representation of friendship, not of romance, that they are meant to teach children that it is possible to get along with people who are different from us.
I find it annoying that people, especially people who have so worked hard to have their sexual orientation accepted, would be so eager to co-opt somebody else's. It's not like they're in the closet and a certain amount of good-natured taunting is going to get them out. Asked and answered; move on.
And then there is a part of this that I find really difficult, which is that while I absolutely support the idea that sexual orientation is not a "choice" and that people are "born this way" (whatever way), I do think that discussions of sexuality specifically in terms of children gets into an ugly little area really fast. Bert and Ernie should get to not talk about it, and children should know that this is okay for them too. To be open to the discussion with your own children and/or with other adults is one thing, but to go into the kids' room and start using their toys for your narrative is... well, tacky.
It is okay to be gay. It's okay to be straight. It's okay to be bisexual, asexual, whatever. It's okay to feel like those questions are nobody's business. In my opinion.
The Jill Lepore article about Jane Franklin was pretty great, though.