Nickelodeon Hints SpongeBob SquarePants Is Gay In Pride Post
Nickelodeon has hinted that SpongeBob SquarePants could be gay in a tweet celebrating Pride month.
Fans think the children’s TV channel confirmed the character’s sexuality on Saturday, June 13, in a tweet honouring its LGBTQ+ stars.
Nickelodeon wrote: ‘Celebrating #Pride with the LGBTQ+ community and their allies this month and every month 🌈.’
All of the characters pictured in the tweet, SpongeBob, Schwoz Schwartz from Henry Danger, and Korra from Avatar spin-off Legend of Korra, are featured with a rainbow hue.
Korra is bisexual while actor Michael Cohen, who plays Schwoz Schwartz, is transgender.
SpongeBob’s sexuality has long been the subject of fan theories, with articles from the early 2000s asking if the beloved character is gay.
For many, this confirms the long-held theory he is a member of the LGBTQ+ community.
Fans were quick to respond to the tweet, with many praising Nickelodeon for the announcement.
One fan wrote: ‘Announcing Spongebob being gay then turning comments off cause it ain’t no debate. Nickelodeon SNAPPED.’
Another added: ‘Did they just confirm SpongeBob as gay and then turn off the replies. If so I love this for him’.
In 2002, a number of publications including The Wall Street Journal and Entertainment Weekly ran articles asking if the character was gay.
As Gary Susman writes in Entertainment Weekly:
Consider: SpongeBob lives in a pineapple in an undersea locale called Bikini Bottom.
His best buddy is an ebullient pink starfish named Patrick.
Another friend is a finicky squid named Squidward who enjoys bubble baths and classical music and talks like Paul Lynde.
SpongeBob and Patrick are occasionally seen holding hands and enjoy watching a superhero TV show called The Adventures of Mermaid Man and Barnacle Boy.
As an article on the Gay Financial Network’s website puts it, ‘You do the math, folks.’
However, both Nickelodeon and the series’ now late creator Stephen Hillenburg denied the theories, with Hillenburg suggesting SpongeBob was not gay but asexual.
Speaking to EW, he said:
I always think of [the characters] as being somewhat asexual. I do think that the attitude of the show is about tolerance. Everybody is different, and the show embraces that. No one is shut out.
Some fans believe that Hillenburg’s 18-year-old statement confirms the character’s sexuality, saying: ‘Spongebob isn’t actually gay, however, he IS on the LGBT+ spectrum.’
While YouTuber Tyler Oakley tweeted: ‘Asexual SpongeBob is a queer icon.’
Obviously, it’s worth considering Hillenburg’s statements were made almost two decades ago when the series had only been running for three years and attitudes were vastly different.
For instance, a 2005 music video using SpongeBob and other popular characters to promote diversity and tolerance was attacked for being a ‘vehicle for pro-gay propaganda’.
It’s claimed that the group singled out SpongeBob in particular because of his popularity among gay men.
It’s therefore entirely possible that both Hillenburg and the studio would be reluctant to say anything that could impact the burgeoning franchise.
But, whether SpongeBob is gay or asexual, he is still a member of the LGBTQ+ community.
As Louis Staples explains in The Independent:
The show’s creator Stephen Hillenburg said in 2000 that Spongebob is asexual, a group which forms part of the queer community. So just because Spongebob might be LGBTQ+ it’s important to note that he’s not necessarily gay. Asexual identities are valid and shouldn’t be erased!
Nickelodeon is yet to clarify the meaning of its post, but as a bisexual woman, I am always happy to see more LGBTQ+ characters represented and celebrated in the mainstream.
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