Gay Rights Newsbeat
Thursday, July 24, 2014
Glenn Burke was credited with inventing the high five in 1977, early in his MLB career. Unfortunately, he was outed as a gay man that offseason, and his career and his life were both shortened.
Tuesday, July 15, 2014
Billy Bean should not have written that book.
One year after Major League Baseball issued a policy prohibiting players from harassing and discriminating against others players based on their sexual orientation, Commissioner Bud Selig appointed former outfielder Billy Bean to be MLB’s first ambassador for inclusion.
The announcement was made on Tuesday at the T-Mobile All-Star FanFest, following Selig’s annual Town Hall Chat on the set of the MLB.com stage at the Minneapolis Convention Center.
Selig and Bean were accompanied by Lutha Burke, the sister of the late former Major League outfielder Glenn Burke.
In his new role, Bean, who made public his homosexuality in 1999, will provide guidance and training related to efforts to support those in the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender community throughout Major League Baseball. He will work with Major and Minor League clubs to encourage equal opportunity in accordance with the joint MLB-MLBPA Workplace Code of Conduct.
Bean also will develop educational training initiatives against sexism, homophobia and prejudice and will be present at annual industry events, including the Winter Meetings and the MLB-MLBPA Rookie Career Development Program.
Tuesday, June 10, 2014
Numbers can’t possibly begin to explain how a tremendously talented athlete would eventually be sidelined by vicious institutional homophobia. After coming out to his teammates and managers in 1978, Burke was reportedly offered $75,000 by Dodgers Vice President Al Campanis to enter into a sham marriage. When turning down the offer—more than $312,000 in today’s money—Burke wittily replied, “I guess you mean to a woman.” Unfortunately, Glenn Burke’s fearlessness would lead to his exile from Los Angeles: That same year, he was traded to Oakland.
According to former Athletics teammate Claudell Washington, manager Billy Martin was cruelly homophobic from Day 1, introducing Burke in the locker room by saying, “Oh, by the way, this is Glenn Burke, and he’s a faggot.” Much as Jackie Robinson endured unfathomable racism from fans and fellow players alike, Burke too faced the injustice of bigotry in sports. Yet as an out gay, black man in professional sports—in the 1970s—Burke was light years ahead of his time. “Being black and gay made me tougher. You had to be tough to make it. Yeah, I’m proud of what I did,” Burke recalled later in life. In a Philadelphia Inquirer interview just before his death from AIDS-related illness in 1995, Burke was defiant, declaring, “They can’t ever say now that a gay man can’t play in the majors, because I’m a gay man and I made it.”
MLB’s most significant tribute to Glenn Burke is a puff piece from 2013, which details the creation of the high five.
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