SpongeBob Squarepants is a member of the LGBTQ+ community, Nickelodeon confirmed in a tweet on Saturday. "Celebrating #Pride with the LGBTQ+ community and their allies this month and every month," the network wrote on Twitter Saturday. They also included Schwoz Schwartz from Henry Danger and Korra from Avatar: The Legend of Korra in the tweet.
— Nickelodeon (@Nickelodeon) June 13, 2020
The network did not specify exactly how SpongeBob identifies, but Twitter users saw this tweet and took off with their reactions. "SpongeBob Gay" was soon trending.
i love that it's not even "spongebob IS gay" everyone went so feral so quick that it's just SPONGEBOB GAY pic.twitter.com/vZQOHXVv8o
— brooke 🍃 (@asaahis) June 13, 2020
GAY SPONGEBOB STANS RISEEEEEEE pic.twitter.com/mF2qhMSKu2
— brittany (@brittany_broski) June 14, 2020
THIS PIC HAS ONLY GOTTEN MORE POWERFUL pic.twitter.com/tATy8k0ZXn
— capitalism destroyer & god dethroner (@kidlcki) June 13, 2020
the straights: SPONGEBOB ISN’T GAY
then explain this.. there is no heterosexual explanation for this. pic.twitter.com/hbPlwXyi9h
— BLACK LIVES MATTER! (@anselsthirdleg) June 14, 2020
Although some people on Twitter cried "queerbaiting" after the announcement, it is true that in 2005 the show's creator Stephen Hillenburg said that SpongeBob and his best friend, Patrick Starfish, are not gay. He thinks of them as asexual.
"It doesn't have anything to do with what we're trying to do," Hillenburg told Reuters, via People. "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."
So, though Twitter ran with "Spongebob gay," it seems Nickelodeon could be celebrating SpongeBob for his asexuality—the "A" in "LGBTQIA."
Spongebob Squarepants is an asexual!!
Spread it like wildfire, everyone!! Don't erase his asexuality!! pic.twitter.com/hEe4z3w8py
— J 🏳️🌈 ᵇˡᵐ, #MoralesGang (@Realm_of_Light) June 13, 2020
spongebob is asexual biromantic, thank you for coming to my tedtalk. pic.twitter.com/3K5wJDdBE4
— 𝖛𝖊𝖊 (@banditovee) June 13, 2020
Let's all give it up for our asexual icon, Spongebob! 🖤🤍💜 pic.twitter.com/QM0IEl75OX
— 🌈 𝙴𝚡𝚝𝚛𝚊 𝙶𝚊𝚢 𝙲𝚛𝚎𝚊𝚝𝚞𝚛𝚎 🌈 (@is_spinel) June 13, 2020
The discourse on queerbaiting, and networks and corporate companies using queerness for their own financial gain, is an important one and should continue. But beyond the network, the shows' creators also discussed their characters' sexualities.
As GLAAD wrote in 2017, The Legend of Korra, gave its main heroines a happy ending in its 2014 finale. Michael Dante DiMartino and Brian Konietzko, the show's creators, each released statements confirming Korra and Asami are bisexual.
"You can celebrate it, embrace it, accept it, get over it, or whatever you feel the need to do, but there is no denying it," Konietzko wrote. "That is the official story. We received some wonderful press in the wake of the series finale at the end of last week, and just about every piece I read got it right: Korra and Asami fell in love. Were they friends? Yes, and they still are, but they also grew to have romantic feelings for each other."
Henry D. Cohen, who plays Schwoz in Henry Danger, discussed his gender identity and transition with Time in 2019. He did not discuss the gender or sexuality of his character but shared his own experience.
"I was misgendered at birth," he said. "I identify as male, and I am proud that I have had a transgender experience—a transgender journey."
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