Spongebob Squarepants is officially part of the LGBTQIA+ community.
In a Twitter post commemorating Pride month, children’s network Nickelodeon shared a Tweet showcasing its LGBTQIA+ allies.
Accompanying the Tweet were photographs of Spongebob, Korra from The Legend of Korra and Michael Cohen from Henry Danger.
— Nickelodeon (@Nickelodeon) June 13, 2020
In an interview with People in 2005, creator Stephen Hillenburg addressed the rumours that the hugely popular cartoon character was gay after two conservative Christian activist groups tried to get the series taken off air.
Hillenburg told the outlet that the allegations were “far-fetched” and that he had no agenda beyond entertainment.
“It doesn’t have anything to do with what we’re trying to do,” he said at the time. “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.”
Prior to the interview, Spongebob had been featured in a We Are Family Foundation group’s pro-diversity music video and was criticised for the inclusion.
“Their inclusion of the reference to ‘sexual identity’ within their ‘tolerance pledge’ is not only unnecessary, but it crosses a moral line.”
Celebrating inclusion in a popular series such as Spongebob is just as important as celebrating Pride.
For those who have come out, or yet to come out, representation matters.
Feeling like they can identify with their favourite TV characters or video games, can be an extremely helpful way for these people to feel that it is OK to be exactly who you want to be.
Representation for queer kids and kids of queer parents in pop culture is the right way forward and this is only just the beginning.
The Spongebob Squarepants show premiered its first episode on May 1, 1999, and follows the adventures of Spongebob Squarepants and his closest friends Patrick Star, Sandy Cheeks, Squidward Tentacles.