Here's the thing: we've thought for years that it would be cool on a number of levels if Nickelodeon's SpongeBob SquarePants came out as an LGBTQ character. Representation at that level can go a long way towards removing prejudices and stereotypes by giving children a chance to embrace the diversity around them at a point when their minds are the most open and accepting. Unfortunately, as far as we know not much has changed in that department since the late Stephen Hillenburg gave his answer on the matter.
In a 2002 interview with The Wall Street Journal, the series creator was asked about SpongeBob's sexuality and he responded by saying that he wasn't gay: "I always think of [the characters] as being somewhat asexual." Hillenburg said he understood why the LGBTQ community so naturally gravitates towards the character: "I do think that the attitude of the show is about tolerance. Everybody is different, and the show embraces that. No one is shut out."
So that's why we're arching our brows to nearly "The Rock" levels over TMZ's reporting on Saturday that Nickelodeon finally "outed" our pineapple-living hero. In a tweet supporting Pride Month, the children's network wrote "Celebrating #Pride with the LGBTQ+ community and their allies this month and every month 🌈" and attached images of SpongeBob as well as Schwoz Schwartz from Henry Danger and the character Korra from Avatar spinoff Legend of Korra (each with a rainbow-like coloring effect to the background).
As much as we would like them to be right (and maybe things have changed by the time you're reading this), we can't shake this feeling that they didn't read past "community" to get to the "their allies" part. Until we get an official notice from the network, Hillenburg's estate, and/or whoever controls all the SpongeBob legal stuff, we're going to have to stick with SpongeBob as an "ally" for now.
— Nickelodeon (@Nickelodeon) June 13, 2020