A kiss between professional bowler Scott Norton and his husband, Craig Woodward, after Norton won the 2012 PBA Chameleon Championship may go down as more than just a display of emotion.
Some writers see it as a significant step for gay professional athletes.
Norton beat Jason Belmonte at the 2012 PBA Chameleon Championship in November, but ESPN only aired the footage of the event on Dec. 30. After Belmonte fell one pin short of a strike on his last roll, giving Norton the victory, Norton hugged and kissed Woodward. Both Norton and Woodward were very emotional, with the memory of a recently deceased friend weighing on them.
We've seen recently that some professionals still have a long way to go when it comes to acceptance of gay athletes, and ESPN's decision to air the kiss appears to be significant. As Larry Brown writes on his site, "Leaving in that moment seemed to be a conscious decision by ESPN considering they had nearly two months to edit together the telecast before airing it."
A former PBA Rookie of the Year and son of Hall of Famer bowler Virginia Norton, Scott Norton came out in 2011:
"I know from my own experiences that it was difficult for me personally to acknowledge being gay because of the shame and stigma brought on by society and I was afraid of not being accepted. I know it is more prevalent in the female sporting community to be gay, but I wouldn't necessarily say it makes it easier. It just means there are more people around to share your story with. I don't feel I have that kind of connection with anyone since many people I am around on our tour do not have that perspective," Norton wrote at the time.
"I am very proud and happy with who I am and who I have become as a person, and I would hope that this will empower other gay athletes – past, present, or future – to come to terms with the truth about who they are and love themselves for who they are."
(H/T to Larry Brown Sports)