The Loss of Astronaut Sally Ride
August 20, 2012
Sally Ride—America’s first female astronaut in space—died on July 23rd. Her obituary contained information that Ride had never released: she was gay. Ride’s obituary announced that she was survived by not only her family, but also by “her partner of 27 years.”
Though some might think that this was a breach of Ride’s privacy, her sister Bear Ride said that it was about including Ride’s partner in the commemoration of Ride’s life. According to Bear, who also identifies as gay, Sally’s partner is just another member of the Ride family. Bear Ride also says that her sister never hid her relationship and that Sally’s close friends knew.
Sally Ride has long been a role model for girls and women everywhere and now is a remarkable figure with whom LGTBQ teens and adults can also identify. President of the Human Rights Campaign, Chad Griffin, hopes that public knowledge of Ride’s sexual identity will promote understanding of the contributions of LGBTQ Americans. He considers Ride a patriot.
For those who looked up to and loved her, Ride’s death due to pancreatic cancer was a terrible loss. But, her legacy lives on, not only as a woman, an astronaut, an American or a scientist, but also now as a member of the LGTBQ community.