SpongeBob's not gay, creator says. Stephen Hillenburg scoffs at the controversy surrounding the cartoon character, who he says is asexual

By Gary Susman
Updated January 28, 2005 at 05:00 AM EST

SpongeBob creator Stephen Hillenburg insists that, despite a current controversy, hand-holding pals SpongeBob and Patrick are not frontmen for the gay agenda, or any other agenda besides wacky entertainment. ”It doesn’t have anything to do with what we’re trying to do,” said Hillenburg, talking to Reuters from Singapore, where The SpongeBob SquarePants Movie premieres this weekend. Of his popular Nickelodeon cartoon characters, he said, ”We never intended them to be gay. I consider them to be almost asexual. We’re just trying to be funny, and this has got nothing to do with the show.”

At issue is a music video featuring SpongeBob and many other popular cartoon characters that’s designed to promote tolerance to schoolchildren, who’ll get the opportunity to see the clip when the We Are Family Foundation sends it to 61,000 U.S. schools in March. Though there’s no mention of sexual orientation in the video or the accompanying teaching materials, the We Are Family website includes sexual identity on a list of characteristics that should not be subject to prejudice. ”Their inclusion of the reference to ‘sexual identity’ within their ‘tolerance pledge’ is not only unnecessary but it crosses a moral line,” warned Focus on the Family chief James Dobson.

Hillenburg said he doesn’t understand the fuss, telling Reuters there are ”more important issues to worry about.” He observed that SpongeBob and Patrick are only the latest pair of children’s entertainment characters who’ve sparked gay rumors. ”Just think of Laurel and Hardy,” he said, ”or Ernie and Bert.” Wait a minute, Mr. Hillenburg, do you mean to say that Ernie and Bert really aren’t gay?

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