Out. The Glenn Burke Story is an immensely powerful look at the life of a man who was decades ahead of his time. The documentary, produced by Comcast SportsNet, was nominated for both a Northern California Area Emmy Award and a GLAAD Media Award earlier this year and made its debut at the Castro Theatre in San Francisco last November. Now, the feature is making its national debut on the Versus network on Tuesday, August 9, at 10 p.m. Eastern.
Sportswriter Rick Chandler wrote about the film and Burke's legacy on NBCSports.com:
"My mission as a gay ballplayer was to break a stereotype. I think it worked," Burke told People magazine in 1994. But did it? Even though it's almost a certainty that there are other gay athletes in professional American sports, none are rushing to come out. It's still as taboo as it gets, and each time we hear the unenlightened such as Kobe Bryant (minor offender) or Tim Hardaway (major) we're reminded that, despite the popular videos, it's not really getting any better.
So here's to a more enlightened age, I guess, and to a time when the next Glenn Burke won't feel the need to hide his sexual orientation from the world. We're not here, yet, but perhaps Burke can still help us light the way.
While I vehemently disagree with Chandler's observation that it isn't getting "ANY" better, I see his point that it hasn't gotten better enough so that a professional athlete in American major team sports has been willing to come out while active. For all the Ben Cohens and Hudson Taylors and Steve Buckleys and Jared Maxes and Rick Weltses and Charles Barkleys and Michael Irvins and It Gets Better videos which show us how far we've come, Glenn Burke's story is a haunting reminder of how far we have yet to go when it comes to full acceptance of LGBT people in sports.
It's also a moving tribute to a man who, were it not for anti-gay attitudes, could very well have become one of the best to ever play professional baseball.
Out. The Glenn Burke Story will air Tuesday night at 10 p.m. Eastern, then again on again Saturday, August 13, at 11 p.m. and Wednesday, August 17, at 11 p.m. on the Versus network.