|Sally Ride's obituary in the New York Times|
After 27 years in a relationship with another woman, Sally Ride came out last week. In her obituary. With the single phrase:
Now we don't know if Sally identified as a lesbian, or as a bisexual, because she's not around to ask, having died of cancer at age 61 last Monday. But,
"...Dr. Ride is survived by her partner of 27 years, Tam O’Shaughnessy..."
"As details trickled out after Ride's death on Monday, July 23, 2012, it became clear that a circle of family, friends and co-workers had long known of the same-sex relationship and embraced it. For many millions of others, who admired Ride as the first American woman in space, it was a revelation..."
The now-that-I'm-dead-I-can-tell-you-the-truth-about-who-I-love coming out sparked a debate about privacy versus being out, about the responsibility of role models, and about the public's right to know.
Andrew Sullivan of the Daily Beast, wrote:
"She had a chance to expand people's horizons and young lesbians' hope and self-esteem, and she chose not to," he wrote. "She was the absent heroine."
Episcopal Bishop Gene Robinson of New Hampshire, who in 2003 became the first openly gay bishop in the Anglican world, noted that both he and Ride were baby boomers who grew up
"in a time when coming out was almost unthinkable."
"For girls who had an interest in science and wanted to go places women had not been allowed to go, she was a tremendous role model," Robinson said Wednesday. "The fact that she chose to keep her identity as a lesbian private — I honor that choice."
I wish Sally had chosen to be a role model for members of our queer community, too. I mean, she was the first American woman in space. The youngest astronaut in space (at age 32!) She was awesome, and what an impact for the good it might have had if she had stood up as authentically herself in front of the world...
What's your take on it? Should Sally Ride have come out before her death?
ps - I'm glad that we finally know Sally was part of our Queer History! And maybe her partner, Executive Vice President for Content at Sally Ride Science, can develop a new a unit on lesbian and queer youth empowerment.