The origins of the high five, and its inventor – an unsung gay pioneer

In 1977, Glenn Burke, a rookie outfielder in Major League Baseball (MLB) with the Los Angeles Dodgers, lifted his arm high above his head and slapped palms with his teammate Dusty Baker to celebrate a milestone home run, marking what is widely regarded as the first documented instance of a high five. But perhaps even more fascinating than the high five’s impromptu, exuberant birth is the story of its inventor: MLB’s first openly gay player. The extraordinary story of a largely unsung pioneer, The High Five revisits Burke’s life, a man who quietly challenged traditional notions of masculinity decades before lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender athletes in professional sports became headline news.

Director: Michael Jacobs

Producer: Chris Gary

Website: Strike Anywhere Films
View at aeon.co

Support Aeon

‘As a professor, I can teach entire classes using Aeon articles. As a reader, I always find something that teaches me.’

Greg Salyer, USA, Friend of Aeon

Aeon is a registered charity committed to the spread of knowledge and a cosmopolitan worldview.

But we can’t do it without you.

Make a donation

Idea/Mind & Body

How the body and mind talk to one another to understand the world

Sarah Garfinkel

Video/Sleep & Dreams

Chocolate, monsters and mothers – surreal glimpses of our most common dreams

2 minutes

Essay/Childhood & Adolescence

The telling

When a parent dies by suicide, how the children are told casts a permanent shadow on their understanding of life and loss

Jesse Bering

Idea/Mental Health

Why family group texts cause anxiety, and how to escape them

Elisabeth Sherman

Video/Family Life

‘I think animals are the thing. Not people.’ Two brothers, and the wild company they keep

9 minutes

Essay/Self-Improvement

The creed of compromise

Don't throw in the day job to follow your dream. Join the bifurcators who juggle work-for-pay and their work-for-love

Thomas Maloney