Bowler Scott Norton won the second PBA title of his career last November, narrowly defeating Jason Belmonte in the WSOB Chameleon Championship, and the event was shown on ESPN last weekend. It was an emotional scene, with Norton overcome by the memory of a recently-deceased friend. And as often happens after events like this, Norton was shown kissing his spouse after the win (remember Pete Weber here?). What made this different from the moments like it you’ve seen all the time, however, is that Norton is openly gay:
You might see that and think, “Oh, that’s nothing”… which is really the point. It was just a quick moment shared between the two of them, and no one treated it as anything more than that. In fact, a reader wrote into OutSports and praised the telecast for acknowledging Norton’s sexuality simply “as just a matter of fact and not a sensation.” And based on what Norton said when he officially came out in 2011, that’s how he’d want it:
It is extremely important for me to come out to show other gay athletes, both current and future, that it is important to come out to show that we are just like everyone else. Being gay doesn’t define who I am as a person or as a professional athlete.
And yet it is significant that the moment was broadcast on air – perhaps the first like it ever televised at a sporting event. But just as significant to us is that no one made a big deal out of it. Despite recent flare-ups like the Torii Hunter controversy, the general trend in America is heavily in the direction of thinking being gay is not that big a deal. So not only are more televised moments like Norton’s probably in the future, but the same type of (lack of) reaction is likely here to stay, too.