The High Five is oh-so gay, and not in the disparaging teenage sense of the word. The high five is rightly associated with sports, and with one of the earliest out gay athletes, baseball player Glenn Burke.
On October 2, 1977, Burke was a charismatic and popular player for the Los Angeles Dodgers, where a crowded stadium watched… As ESPN tells it:
It was the last day of the regular season, and Dodgers leftfielder Dusty Baker had just gone deep off the Astros’ J.R. Richard. It was Baker’s 30th home run, making the Dodgers the first team in history to have four sluggers — Baker, Ron Cey, Steve Garvey and Reggie Smith — with at least 30 homers each. It was a wild, triumphant moment and a good omen as the Dodgers headed to the playoffs. Burke, waiting on deck, thrust his hand enthusiastically over his head to greet his friend at the plate. Baker, not knowing what to do, smacked it. “His hand was up in the air, and he was arching way back,” says Baker, now 62 and managing the Reds. “So I reached up and hit his hand. It seemed like the thing to do.”
Burke then stepped up and launched his first major league home run. And as he returned to the dugout, Baker high-fived him. From there, the story goes, the high five went ricocheting around the world. (According to Dodgers team historian Mark Langill, the game was not televised, and no footage survives.)
Burke was the hero of the Dodgers, and their charismatic soul, but he also had a relationship of unspecified intimacy with Tommy Lasorda’s embarrassment of an effeminate son. The Dodger’s traded Burke to the Oakland A’s in a weak trade designed mostly to get rid of him.
Burke retired in 1980, after some frustrating years. He then became a fixture in the Castro, known for sitting on whatever car was in front of the Pendulum bar giving high fives…a great image.