Are you ready, kids? Because the internet sure wasn’t when it came to Nickelodeon’s SpongeBob post for Pride Month.
On Saturday, the network tweeted a tribute to Pride by featuring its own LGBTQ+ characters and allies, including Korra from “The Legend of Korra,” “Henry Danger” actor Michael D. Cohen, and ― interestingly ― SpongeBob.
The artwork by Ramzy Masri, which showed all three characters cloaked in rainbows, had the internet speculating — and various forms of “SpongeBob is gay” trending.
Korra was already confirmed by the “Legend of Korra” creators to have ended the series in a relationship with female friend Asami. And last year, Cohen revealed that he had transitioned almost two decades ago. So, does the post confirm SpongeBob is part of the LGBTQ community? Is SpongeBob gay?
Nickelodeon offered no additional explanation, but the network has in the past. After all, this isn’t the first time fans have speculated about SpongeBob, the square-panted hero who came up with a rainbowger:
Nickelodeon outright denied SpongeBob was gay in 2002. At the time, series creator Stephen Hillenburg, who died in 2018, said the characters in the show were “asexual.”
Hillenburg doubled down on those comments to Reuters in 2005, saying: “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.”
HuffPost asked the voice of SpongeBob, Tom Kenny, in 2015 about possible significant others in the little sponge’s future. He was doubtful, saying the characters were even “pre-sexual”:
I think our take on SpongeBob and Patrick is that they’re pre-sexual characters. Like, they’re too young and naïve to have any feelings of that type, and even if they do have stirrings they don’t know how to act on them ... I guess the only way SpongeBob could maybe have a girlfriend is if he was trying to imitate, if it was imitative behavior. Like, “Wow, apparently having a girlfriend is what you’re supposed to do, I’ll go get one.” But that’s not where his mind is at. [In SpongBob’s voice] “He’s married to his job. Like Captain Kirk is married to the Enterprise. I’m married to the Krusty Krab.”
Unless Nickelodeon is going back on series creator Hillenburg’s statements, SpongeBob isn’t gay. He’s asexual, or even — in Kenny’s words — pre-sexual.
But the LGBTQ community is vast and diverse, and it includes asexuality.
While Nickelodeon’s post had some perhaps erroneously spreading the word that SpongeBob was “confirmed” to be gay, others were celebrating him as the asexual icon he already is: