Fans have speculated about the iconic sponge from Bikini Bottom’s sexuality for years, but the series has never given any concrete answers.
The Spongebob SquarePants with Gary the Snail balloon hovers above the crowd during the 93rd Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York, U.S., November 28, 2019.
(photo credit: CAITLIN OCHS/REUTERS)
In celebration of LGBT Pride month, Nickelodeon tweeted images of three of their iconic characters – including, to the surprise of many, SpongeBob SquarePants.
The tweet made by Nickelodeon – which read “Celebrating #Pride with the LGBTQ+ community and their allies this month and every month” – included images of Korra from The Legend of Korra, Schwoz Schwartz from Henry Danger and SpongeBob SquarePants of the eponymous series.
— Nickelodeon (@Nickelodeon) June 13, 2020
Most of the tweet didn’t come as too much of a surprise. Korra’s sexuality has been well-known for years, with it being written into the script and being part of the series finale in 2014. Schwoz, who unlike the other two is a live-action character, is played by Michael D. Cohen, a transgender actor who transitioned decades ago.
However, for SpongeBob, the revelation may come as more of a surprise. The character is one of the most iconic in the channel’s history, with the famous show debuting in 1999 and being a mainstay on the channel ever since, being broadcasted all over the world in a variety of languages. Its popularity has led to multiple awards, two theatrical films (with a third slated for release in August 2020), multiple video games, a critically acclaimed Broadway musical and two currently in-development spin-off series.
Fans have speculated about the iconic sponge from Bikini Bottom’s sexuality for years. However, while the series has never given any concrete answers, there have been hints of an attraction to women, notably towards series mainstay Sandy Cheeks.
In fact, the series has gotten embroiled in controversy before regarding the character’s sexuality. The most notable incident occurred in 2005, when an Evangelical group Focus on the Family accused SpongeBob of “advocating homosexuality” after a video by a pro-tolerance organization made a video including clips of SpongeBob SquarePants to promote diversity and tolerance.
Regardless, while Nickelodeon seems to have confirmed SpongeBob’s status as a member of the LGBT community, they did not specify where exactly he sits on the spectrum, which will no doubt keep fans debating.
Interestingly, SpongeBob’s creator, Stephen Hillenburg, had weighed in on the issue in 2005, having stated that the character, alongside his best friend Patrick Star, are asexual.
“It doesn’t have anything to do with what we’re trying to do,” Hillenburg told Reuters 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.”
He added that there are “more important issues to worry about. I really don’t pay much attention to this.”
Interestingly, sponges are asexual in real life, as well.
While it is unknown what Hillenberg would have thought of Nickelodeon’s tweet, due to his tragic death in 2018, fans celebrated Nickelodeon’s tweet over social media. However, the channel has yet to officially comment any further about the subject at the time of writing.