The High Five – another queer gift to the world


high five glenn burke

In 1977, Glenn Burke, a young gay outfielder for the Los Angeles Dodgers baseball team, invented the High Five.

Among the many other cultural contributions from the LGBTQIA+ communities to the world – the High Five.

During the last game of the 1977 regular season, Dusty Baker, another Dodgers player, made his 30th home run. That run made the Dodgers the first team ever to have four players with 30 home runs. As Baker returned to the home plate, Glenn Burke reached his hand enthusiatically above his head and Baker, unsure what to do, reached up and slapped it.

“His hand was up in the air, and he was arching way back. So I reached up and hit his hand. It seemed like the thing to do.”

Burke himself then made his first major league home run. At the end of that, Baker high-fived him.

Although the game was untelevised, the gesture went viral. In 1980, the Dodgers began selling High Five t-shirts with a trademarked logo of two upraised hands connecting. The club claimed the salute or the ‘high-five handshake’ as their own.

“The ‘High Five’ salute has become the Dodgers’ standard salute during the 1980 season. It is given customarily following a home run, good defensive play or Dodger victory.”

By 1981, a magazine noted thankfully that when a black player hit a home run other players no longer shook ‘his hand like a bunch of Rotarians at lunch’.

But Glenn Burke, who had invented the High Five, was no longer with the Dodgers. Despite his discretion, rumours spread in the clubhouse that the popular young player was gay.

He was, and his coach suspected Glenn Burke of having a sexual affair with the coach’s gay son. The Dodgers traded Glenn to one of the least promising teams in baseball.

Dispirited and suffering injury, Glenn Burke retired in 1980 at the age of just 27. However, he then came out and became a popular figure on the San Francisco gay scene.

Sadly, Glenn died in 1993, after testing positive for HIV.

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Destiny Rogers

Destiny Rogers embarked on her career in the media industry immediately after high school, initially joining Mirror News, which later evolved into News Ltd. She fondly recalls editing Ian Byford's 'Passing Glances: A History of Gay Cairns' as one of her most fulfilling projects. Additionally, Destiny co-researched and co-wrote 'The Queen's Ball', chronicling the history of the world's longest-running continuous queer event. Her investigative work on the history of Australia's COON Cheese and Edward Coon culminated in the publication 'COON: More Holes than Swiss Cheese', a collaborative effort with Dr. Stephen Hagan. Destiny's journey at QNews began as a feature writer, and she was subsequently elevated to the role of Managing Editor of QNews Magazine in 2018. However, in July 2022, she decided to resign from this role to refocus on research and feature writing. For contact, please reach out at destinyr@qnews.com.au.

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