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Before Jason Collins, There Was Glenn Burke, And A Film Based On His Life Is In Development

by Tambay A. Obenson
April 30, 2013 4:33 PM
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Glenn Burke

As I'm sure everyone has heard by now, Jason Collins, a 12-year NBA veteran, announced he is gay in a first-person essay for Sports Illustrated that appeared online yesterday, Monday.

Coverage of Collins' revelation has been quite extensive over the last 24 hours, and continues to be so, as some are hoping that all this fervor will translate into interest in a film project on the life of another openly gay athlete from yesteryear.

Deadline reports that Jamie Lee Curtis and JUMA Entertainment are hoping all the attention to Collins' news will help push forward a film she's apparently been trying to get made for years, on Major League Baseball player, Glenn Burke (photo above), based his autobiography Out At Home: The Glenn Burke Story.

Who's Glenn Burke?

Glenn Burke was the first openly gay Major League Baseball player, which he revealed in 1982 in an Inside Sports magazine article and then on The Today Show with Bryant Gumbel.

He was drafted by the Los Angeles Dodgers in 1976 as an outfielder, and, as a rookie, started during the 1977 World Series. He was soon traded to the Oakland A's as rumors about his sexuality began to swirl. 

He is said to have been already *out* to his family and friends, so he wasn't hiding it, adding that, "by 1978 I think everybody knew,"  he was "sure his teammates didn't care."

Burke would eventually leave the A's shortly after his arrival in Oakland, when he started to feel that he wasn't welcomed because of his sexuality, and he eventually retired from baseball at the age of 27. 

"Prejudice drove me out of baseball sooner than I should have," Burke said in an interview with the New York Times in 1994. 

A year later, he passed away from AIDS-related complications in May 1995 at the age of 42.

Burke is also credited with inventing the high five.

There was a 2010 documentary on his life, titled Out. The Glenn Burke Story.

Glenn Burke changed the world forever with that one hand slap [...] Yesterday, Jason Collins changed the world forever when he told the truth. It’s a moment of truth that the world has been waiting for,” said Jamie Lee Curtis. She’s producing the film with Robert Horowitz.

Whether or not Collins' announcement does much to affect the progress of Curtis' project is anyone's guess. It's certainly inspired lots of conversation... which is a start I suppose.

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  • urbanauteur | May 1, 2013 3:29 PMReply

    1) "And it is clear that in he colonial countries, the peasants alone are revolutionary,for they have nothing to lose and everything to to gain. the starving peasant, outside the class system is the first among the exploited to discover that only violence pays. For him(her also-my italics) there is no compromise, no possible coming to terms , colonization and decolonization a simply a question of relative strength."
    2) "Zombies believe me, are more terrifying than colonists".
    The Wretched of the Earth- Frantz Fanon

  • CareyCarey | May 1, 2013 1:53 PMReply

    HMMMMM... "Dave Chapelle, Ken Broussard and Warren Ballentine had the balls and courage to exemplify the message in MLK's words: “Many people fear nothing more terribly than to take a position which stands out sharply and clearly from the prevailing opinion. The tendency of most is to adopt a view that is so ambiguous that it will include everything and so popular that it will include everybody. Not a few men who cherish lofty and noble ideals hide them under a bushel for fear of being called different." ― Martin Luther King Jr.

    Yep, ESPN will probably "discipline" Chris Broussard for daring to wander off the leftist plantation and actually give his opinion about homosexuality. However, unlike the many cowardly, spineless, blind followers of current popular opinion, aka PC leftist idiots, Warren Ballentine and the real men don't mind speaking the truth. They are not afraid to say homosexuality... that gay life, is nothing to cheer about.

  • Agent K | May 1, 2013 12:49 PMReply


  • urbanauteur | May 1, 2013 11:03 AMReply

    News flash!!... DAVE CHAPELLE, KEN BROUSSARD and WARREN BALLENTINE just came as a Black Militants!!..what?

  • CC | April 30, 2013 9:22 PMReply

    Hip-Hip Hooray for SILENT PROTESTOR (below). Yep, if we're going to "come out", come out and tell the whole story. But really, who really cares about these guys who wear their underwear backward? I mean, what do they hope to accomplish by telling the world they're pud packers?

    "I don't think it is anyone's business"

    REALLY?! He told his damn business. And I am still wondering why? Well, desiring another man's nut sack is not natural, so maybe he's gong the nontraditional route of trolling for peter. Seriously, I'll bet he'll NOT be in the league next year, so he's sitting his traps early. Hell, who needs eHarmony and when you can get free national pub?

    6' 10" black dude, size 15 shoe, Standford educated, seeking gay white man. Loves walks in the park, playing basketball and bumping hairy balls.

    Yes-yes-yes, we so proud of the first active black basketball player to come out and tell the world he likes peter.

    Damn, what's this whole world coming to, things just ain't the same, any time the player gets championed for being the dame.

  • Silent Protester | April 30, 2013 4:57 PMReply

    Proud of Jason Collins for his courage to come out with the declaritive statement," I am black and I am gay."

    SAD by the fact that he, like his "black" sports predecessors who have braved coming out, will seek the arms of white men as romantic interests. Even CNN's Don Lemon has a decided preference for white men. Gay Black men in the public eye always seem to indicate that gay affections between black men are not viable as romantic choices. And, if my memory is correct, Gleen Burke was no different.

  • No | April 30, 2013 5:21 PM

    WOW! Talk about being prejudice. I wasn't aware that Collins announced his ideal type of male romantic mate. If so, I don't think it is anyone's business. Why do you care who he sleeps with? If he sleeps with black men that'll make him more "authentically" black?

  • lauren | April 30, 2013 5:19 PM

    Who cares? Life is damn short! Go live yours!

  • Jug | April 30, 2013 4:40 PMReply

    I think this movie should focus on how Black people have invented everything important in America-the Southern Economy, Jazz, Hip-Hop and the High Five.

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