So far, 2020 is full of surprises. Nickelodeon dropped one major bomb about one of our favorite cartoons of all times – SpongeBob SquarePants on June 13th. While it is still unclear if Mr. SquarePants is asexual or gay, the internet is exploding with exciting ideas about his sexual orientation. The network tweeted a photo of this famous cartoon alongside other queer characters, Henry Danger‘s Schwoz Schwartz and Korra from Avatar: The Last Airbender spin-off Legends of Korra, writing: “Celebrating #Pride with the LGBTQIA+ community and their allies this month and every month.”
— Nickelodeon (@Nickelodeon) June 13, 2020
Although it has been long assumed by fans that the cartoon character is homosexual, Nickelodeon did not specify the character’s specific identity. Nevertheless, fans of the show have taken to social media to celebrate the reveal and applaud the Nickelodeon for the reveal in celebration of Pride Month. Fans seem excited and are responding well to the news on social media, one writing: “SPONGEBOB GAY, WE STAN A QUEEN WHO WEARS CORAL BLUE.”
WE STAN A QUEEN WHO WEARS CORAL BLUE #3 pic.twitter.com/sNTPclXRyh
— Crispy – Black Lives Matter (@TheChrisPavon) June 13, 2020
SpongeBob – Evolution of the Character
No other cartoon in history has had such an impact on both young and old viewers alike. Created by Stephen Hillenburg, who was a marine biologist by trade, SpongeBob hit the animation entertainment water with a splash when Hillenburg’s 11-minute preliminary clip of a show centered around Bob the Sponge and his undersea adventures, sent waves through Nickelodeon’s executives and spurred the network to fund a pilot show in 1997.
The first episode of SpongeBob SquarePants aired on May 1, 1999. Within a month of its premiere, it overtook Pokémon as the highest-ranked Saturday morning cartoon on television. This comedic animated show found its way into the hearts and minds of not only children but adults as well. 40 percent of each show’s average of 2.2 million viewers were over the age of 18.
Queerness in Cartoons
Queer fans of cartoons hope that animation will continue to be explicit about who their LGBTQIA+ characters are. However, it is not only about having characters that are queer. It is also giving kids the opportunity to critically think about difficult conversations. These conversations may include physical and mental health, discrimination, and every day struggles that we may face.
“I started noticing this pattern in ensemble cartoons where the girls fall into broad categories: cuties, tomboys, and gross girls. Growing up in the 80s & 90s as a fat girl, I knew I wasn’t a cutie like Sally from Peanuts or Brittany from Alvin & the Chipmunks or She-Ra. Additionally, I felt more like a tomboy—Francine from Arthur, Spinelli from Recess, Skeeter from Muppet Babies, Daria and Jane in Daria—but none of those characters were coded as fat.
The only time I ever saw fat girls in cartoons, which was rare anyway, they were some combination of gross, loud, mean, awkward, and gluttonous: Eleanor from Alvin, Helga from The Oblongs, Grenda from Gravity Falls, Lumpy Space Princess from Adventure Time. These girls are never on the desired side of a crush. In fact, they are often sexually aggressive. Moreover, the humor always came from their humiliation.”
– Kate Browne, a queer writer, and television scholar to The Dot and Line
Hints dropped by SpongeBob creators
Folks on the internet have been dropping hints about SpongeBob’s sexuality for a while now. Let’s take a look at few clips to spread some light on SpongeBob’s queerness.
If spongebob is gay then this clip is insane pic.twitter.com/sdE59HiFvP
— Shelby (@forshellby) June 13, 2020
When this cartoon character asks “Am I a Pretty Girl?” :
What it means for us
In 2005, SpongeBob Squarepants creator Stephen Hillenburg told Reuters, per People, that he never intended for SpongeBob or his best friend Patrick Starfish “to be gay.” Moreover, in one 2002 episode called “Rock-a-Bye Bivalve,” Spongebob and his best friend Patrick parent an abandoned scallop like a married couple.
Let's all give it up for our asexual icon, Spongebob! 🖤🤍💜 pic.twitter.com/QM0IEl75OX
— 🌈 𝙴𝚡𝚝𝚛𝚊 𝙶𝚊𝚢 𝙲𝚛𝚎𝚊𝚝𝚞𝚛𝚎 🌈 (@is_spinel) June 13, 2020
Asexuality is the lack of sexual attraction to others with little to no desire for sexual activity and classifies as part of the LGBTQ spectrum. Following Nickelodeon’s announcement, Twitter users began celebrating the news with some calling the sea sponge an “asexual icon.”
“I consider them to be almost asexual. We’re just trying to be funny and this has nothing to do with the show.”
– Stephen Hillenburg, creator of the cartoon series