There are certain public events that become indelible in our memory. One such is the moment when Pee Wee Reese stopped a baseball game during a road trip, walked over to his Dodgers teammate Jackie Robinson, and put his arm around his shoulder in silent rebuke to the racist fans who were screaming epithets at the brave man who broke the color line in baseball.
The moment captured in the above screen shot from ESPN, from 7 pm EDT on Saturday, May 10, 2014, is such a moment for me. As the headline writer at HuffPost (see below) perceived, it was a defining cultural moment. Collective expectations will change, including for sexual minority children and youth who will see themselves validated and affirmed by this natural expression of celebration and release.
Of course we will move on from this moment; but it will always remain as a milestone of our journey toward freedom and equality. Maybe it is easy to take for granted now, at least for those of us in liberal urban enclaves or college towns; but, as Sidney Poitier said as he accepted the Best Actor Oscar for Lilies of the Field from Anne Bancroft, "It is a long journey to this moment."
In our lives, the moment flies past us and is gone. In our memories, it is a bright flash that illuminates all around it, and sustains us in moments of setback and frustration and despair. Do not be intimidated or embarrassed or ashamed by the belittling and dismissive comments of those who find it necessary to treat this moment as nothing, who suggest that we are silly drama queens for making a big deal of it. It damn well is a big thing. Is it everything? Of course not. That moment between Reese and Robinson, or the one between Bancroft and Poitier, was a milestone, not the end of the journey. We need our milestones.
More pics of Sam and his boyfriend here.