Before Ren moved to Italy, I managed to get her to watch Being Elmo with me. As expected, there was a grand total of seven people in the theater with us (at most). And even more predictable – I cried by the time the credits rolled.
Throughout the movie, two thoughts reoccured in my head. One: Jim Henson is the fucking man. I always had my assumptions, but this documentary solidified it. His imagination and plight for the preservation of innocence blew my mind and warmed my heart. Second: I couldn’t help but ask myself despite him being married with a daughter, “Is Kevin Clash gay?” Not that it mattered to me, nor was it even relevant.
Fast forward to November 2012, and it turns out Kevin Clash IS gay and evidently it DOES matter, because his gay relationship allegedly involved an underage male. According to YBF (so you know it’s true lol) Clash had sexual relations with aspiring model Sheldon Stephens when Stephens was only 16 years old. While Clash admitted to the relationship, he denied it being an “underage sex scandal”. Interestingly enough, Stephens’ legal team retracted the accusations shortly after they were made claiming he was at least 18-years-old and the relationship was consensual.
Obviously, something mad suspect is going on here. Either Stephens maliciously defamed Clash’s name in hopes of getting some sort of pay-off for it, or he was paid/threatened to recant his allegations. The only thing one can be sure of is Kevin Clash’s reputation is as good as ruined. Regardless of the truth, my guess is Clash’s association for having more than just his hand up more than just a puppet’s ass will supersede if not undermine any positive connotations he has. Which is unfortunate, because his contribution to Sesame Street, the black community, and the livelihood of children around the world is quite apparent.
You may be wondering why I care about this issue enough to write a blog about it. The answer is because I’m the kind of person who gets giddy during the “It’s A Small World” ride at Disneyland. I believe in innocence, and have this crazy thought that there are still good people in the world. I MORE THAN WILLINGLY WATCHED BEING ELMO FOR CRYING OUT LOUD. So when news of the allegations broke out, I was a little heart-broken.
Although I have my own theories of Clash post-scandal that allow me to separate his personal life from his life as Elmo, I cannot promise my opinions would be the same if I were a parent. While I don’t expect everyone to share the same sentiment I have about Clash, I do hope they agree with the Sesame workshop in saying that Elmo; a character synonymous with love and social tolerance “is bigger than any one person …” It just so happens that “Kevin Clash” is the biggest person synonymous with being Elmo.