Just like that, Mister Rogers — a character created by former minister Fred Rogers for the popular children’s TV series Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood — has reappeared in the public consciousness, thanks to both a 2018 documentary by Morgan Neville and an upcoming biopic that will see Tom Hanks take on the role of the beloved TV personality. But as you may have noticed, this week people have also started to refer to Mister Rogers as a “bisexual icon”? What on Earth could be behind that?
As it turns out, Fred Rogers may have actually identified as a member of the LGBTQ community, even if (unsurprisingly) he never used that specific terminology. To be clear, it’s unlikely that Fred Rogers ever referred to himself as “bisexual.”
Evidence for the idea of Mister Rogers as a “bisexual icon” isn’t even new. It actually comes straight from the September 2018 book The Good Neighbor by Maxwell King, an in-depth look at one of TV’s — and history’s — most influential pop culture personalities.
In the book, Fred Rogers is speaking with a friend of his — the openly gay Dr. William Hirsch — about an idea like the Kinsey Scale, also known as the Heterosexual–Homosexual Rating Scale, which posits that every individual falls somewhere along the scale, from 0 to 6, with heterosexuality and homosexuality occupying the scale’s polar ends.
Mister Rogers is quoted as saying:
Well, you know, I must be right smack in the middle. Because I have found women attractive, and I have found men attractive.
A statement like that would tend to place someone near the middle of the Kinsey Scale.
As you can imagine, members of the LGBTQ community were ecstatic to discover they had a bisexual icon in the likes of Mister Rogers.
I can't believe Mr. Rogers is actually the Saint of Bisexuals, the kindest bisexual, the bisexual we all aspire to be as kind and loving as https://t.co/erqAXbFaqh
— Bagel Club President (@stickonstarlite) March 5, 2019
As far as bisexual icons go, LGBTQs — and the world — could undoubtedly do much worse than Mister Rogers. So score one for the LGBTQ community.