SpongeBob SquarePants fans believe Nickelodeon may have established the cheerful character as gay in a tweet celebrating Pride month.
In a tweet the channel wrote: "Celebrating #Pride with the LGBTQ+ community and their allies this month and every month."
An image of the colourful cartoon sponge was featured alongside two established members of the LGBTQ+ community associated with Nickelodeon, character Avatar Korra from The Legend of Korra who is bisexual as well as Henry Danger actor Michael D. Coren who is transgender.
The show's creator Stephen Hillenburg, who died in 2018, previously claimed that SpongeBob was 'asexual'.
In 2002, he was quoted as saying: "Everybody is different, and the show embraces that. The character SpongeBob is an oddball. He's kind of weird, but he's kind of special.
"I always think of them as being somewhat asexual."
While the tweet didn't make any explicit comment on SpongeBob's sexual orientation, many fans assumed it could be a confirmation that the character is gay.
We been knew Spongebob was gay. But now it’s confirmed, I love that. https://t.co/z1WsKe0fcL— Lexi (@alexisnerdz) June 13, 2020
"SPONGEBOB GAY CONFIRMED LET'S GOOOOOOOOO," tweeted one fan.
Another added: "We been knew Spongebob was gay. But now it’s confirmed, I love that."
In the LGBTQIA acronym, the A typically stands for 'asexual', therefore it could be a reinforcement of Hillenburg's comments and not a new declaration on his sexuality.
This is in addition to the fact that being asexual and gay are not mutually exclusive, as other fans were keen to highlight as one urged others to “keep in mind that being lgbtqia+ doesn't just mean same gender attraction”.
nickelodeon just said spongebob is lgbtqia+.— 💙autistic pan aroace💙/ily kat🏹 (@percybluefood) June 14, 2020
because spongebob was confirmed as asexual by the creator in 2005. and asexuals are lgbtqia+.
yes, you can be gay and asexual, but also keep in mind that being lgbtqia+ doesn't just mean same gender attraction.
The hugely popular show launched in 1999 and for 12 seasons has portrayed the exploits of SpongeBob who - as the catchy theme song explains - lives in a pineapple under the sea.
The programme includes four Emmys among its accolades and has also spawned two films with a third set for release later in the year.