Nickelodeon‘s iconic cartoon character SpongeBob SquarePants has joined the celebration of Pride Month with the LGBTQ+ community.
Animation fans around the world were hyped to see the US kids TV channel share a post of the character to mark Pride Month on Saturday.
A Twitter and Instagram post shared by the network featured a drawing of Spongebob flashing an enthusiastic smile and dressed in his iconic shorts and shirt combo while basking in rainbow light alongside some other Nickelodeon characters.
While the accompanying message hinted about the sexuality of the animated sponge hero – much to the joy of followers.
The image was accompanied by the statement: “Celebrating #Pride with the LGBTQ+ community and their allies this month and every month,” along with rainbow emojis.
While the post didn’t explicitly state the sexuality of SpongeBob, many followers took the post to be a sign that the character was more part of the LGBTQ+ community rather than an allay.
One follower wondered: “Did they just confirm spongebob as gay?”
While another replied: “I think they didn’t, ’cause they mentioned LGBTQ+ Community and Allies, so Sponge Bob might be queer or an ally.”
While a further fan simply wrote: “Never been more proud to have once been on Nickelodeon.”
Spongebob Squarepants was created by the late animator Stephen Hillenburg in the 1990s.
The animator himself – who sadly passed away aged 57 in 2018 following heart failure – had previously confirmed Spongebob was part of the LGBTQ+ community as an asexual character.
He shared about Spongebob’s character creation in 2005: “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.”
In the same Pride month post Nickelodeon shared also featured the characters Schwoz Schwartz from Henry Danger, and Korra from Avatar spin-off Legend of Korra.
Korra has been celebrated as bisexual in the cartoon in the past, while Schwoz is played by transgender actor Michael D Cohen.