Sally Ride comes out in obituary; partner of 27 years to be denied survivor benefits

  • TroyAthlete

    Posts: 4269

    Jul 24, 2012 4:26 PM GMT
    BuzzFeedSally Ride, who died today after a 17-month battle with pancreatic cancer, was the first female U.S. astronaut in space and became friends with Tam O'Shaugnessy at the age of 12. It was not until today, however — nearly 50 years after meeting — that their 27-year romantic relationship was made public.

    The pioneering scientist was, a statement from Sally Ride Science announced, survived by "Tam O'Shaughnessy, her partner of 27 years."

    With that simple statement — listed alongside her mother, Joyce; her sister, Bear; her niece, Caitlin and nephew, Whitney — Ride came out.

    Bear Ride, talking with BuzzFeed, said today, "We consider Tam a member of the family."


    Even after 27-years together, the federal government will deny the Tam survivor benefits that a opposite-sex partner of a deceased astronaut will receive.

    Enter the gay apologists to tell us about how gays have all the same rights as everyone else in 3, 2, 1...
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    Jul 24, 2012 8:46 PM GMT
    If Ride had been the pioneer in gay rights that she was in space, her partner might get benefits. If after her first space flight she had shown moral corage to equal her physical courage, we would all be better off. I don't mean to mock the dead, but even heroes have feet of clay.
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    Jul 24, 2012 8:54 PM GMT
    ^ I kind of have to agree with this. She could have made a tremendous difference.
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    Jul 24, 2012 8:55 PM GMT
    I went to one of only two elementary schools named after her. My claim to fame. lol
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    Jul 24, 2012 8:56 PM GMT
    This story makes me a sad panda. icon_sad.gif
  • TroyAthlete

    Posts: 4269

    Jul 25, 2012 12:44 AM GMT
    showme said^ I kind of have to agree with this. She could have made a tremendous difference.


    Sally Ride?
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    Jul 25, 2012 12:50 AM GMT
    TroyAthlete said
    showme said^ I kind of have to agree with this. She could have made a tremendous difference.


    Sally Ride?

    I think he means in the GLBT cause, not in science, haha.
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    Jul 25, 2012 12:51 AM GMT
    her name was sally ride..im sorry when i heard it on the news i laughed....plus i dont see how she would have changed the gay forum on benefits for partnership. Politicians within the boundaries of the united stats dont care about that.
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    Jul 25, 2012 12:52 AM GMT
    Sad and heartbreaking.
  • KissTheSky

    Posts: 1980

    Jul 25, 2012 1:32 AM GMT
    For a while she was one of the most famous and respected women in the country. She definitely could have made a difference w/ regard to gay rights.
    Sad to see such a huge missed opportunity.
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    Jul 25, 2012 1:35 AM GMT
    At the time, it was pushing the envelope just for her to be female. Coming out as queer at the same time would really have been pushing it. Anyway, it's sad that this is all people are talking about, rather than her accomplishments.
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    Jul 25, 2012 1:54 AM GMT
    Funny thing is I always assumed she was a lesbian. Not sure if she stayed in the closet because coming out would've put a crimp in her speaking engagement fees or if there were other forces at play. Perhaps we'll never know.
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    Jul 25, 2012 1:58 AM GMT
    I don't think it's fair to denigrate her achievements just because they're not the ones we, in hindsight, would have liked to her to have chosen. She did a lot for other people. She was one of the first to break the glass ceiling for women and pioneered/encouraged science and math in schools. These were and are huge achievements that she and her family should be very proud of. Could she have done more - sure. Who couldn't?

    But she was a really cool woman who lived a very good life and was lucky enough to share almost all of it with the woman she loved. Would it be better if her surviving partner was able to get benefits - of course. But that wasn't one of the fights that Sally Ride felt she could/would/should take on. That was her right and we should still celebrate her many achievements.
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    Jul 25, 2012 2:06 AM GMT
    mindgarden wroteAt the time, it was pushing the envelope just for her to be female.


    To put mindgarden's comment in perspective, here are a few paragraphs from her obit in the New York Times:

    "Speaking to reporters before the first shuttle flight, Dr. Ride — chosen in part because she was known for keeping her cool under stress — politely endured a barrage of questions focused on her sex: Would spaceflight affect her reproductive organs? Did she plan to have children? Would she wear a bra or makeup in space? Did she cry on the job? How would she deal with menstruation in space?

    "The CBS News reporter Diane Sawyer asked her to demonstrate a newly installed privacy curtain around the shuttle’s toilet. On “The Tonight Show,” Johnny Carson joked that the shuttle flight would be delayed because Dr. Ride had to find a purse to match her shoes.

    "At a NASA news conference, Dr. Ride said: “It’s too bad this is such a big deal. It’s too bad our society isn’t further along.”

    "The Soviets had already sent two women into space. When one came aboard a space station, a male cosmonaut welcomed her by saying the kitchen and an apron were all ready for her."
  • HndsmKansan

    Posts: 16311

    Jul 25, 2012 2:19 AM GMT
    I really liked her, interesting lady who will be missed. Didn't know she was a lesbian and certainly very unfair that she didn't receive any sort of benefits.
  • bladeaddict

    Posts: 93

    Jul 25, 2012 2:20 AM GMT
    You have to put her life and actions (or inactions) in the perspective of the time she lived in. It was way harder to come out then than it is now (and it's not so easy for everyone even now). While clearly (from the quoted statement) her family was supportive, she may have had career issues or just personal issues that held her back.

    Check out the USA Today article which mentions a Human Rights Campaign study that says that "People ages 55 and older are 80 times more likely to be closeted than those under age 30." 80 times! I think it is difficult for people under 30 to understand what it was like to grow up in a very different society. The good news in that statistic is that there has been progress, and it is getting better for gay people in this country. If Sally Ride couldn't be part of that progress publicly, she was still an inspiration to girls and women on a number of other fronts; and it seems (from press reports) as if she was out to her friends and family, which makes her at least a small part of the progress toward acceptance of gays in general. It is likely that she was involved in the choice to come out in her obituary as well, setting the record straight (sorry) for posterity is a step in the right direction.

    She did what she could, and what she did was positive. We cannot know the reasons behind her unwillingness to come out publicly, but surely there were reasons. Until you've walked in her shoes, it's not right to judge her on this.

    "When you starts measuring somebody, measure him right, child, measure him right. Make sure you done taken into account what hills and valleys he come through before he got to wherever he is.”
    ― Lorraine Hansberry, A Raisin in the Sun
  • CuriousJockAZ

    Posts: 19119

    Jul 25, 2012 2:29 AM GMT
    Do we know that she was NOT "out" publicly? Maybe she was "out", but you just didn't read about it in the press. No one says well-known people have to make a huge announcement to the general public to be "out".
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    Jul 25, 2012 2:43 AM GMT
    CuriousJockAZ saidDo we know that she was NOT "out" publicly? Maybe she was "out", but you just didn't read about it in the press. No one says well-known people have to make a huge announcement to the general public to be "out".


    Funny you should say that, since I'm almost sure that I read about it when they started their education program a few years ago.

    It certainly would have been known within NASA, but not necessarily broadcast. The 80's - 90's theory among "intelligence" types when vetting people for security clearance was that closeted gays are a security risk because they can be blackmailed. "Out" gays were supposedly blackmail-proof and not considered (as much of?) a risk.
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    Jul 25, 2012 8:15 AM GMT
    Wow, I had no idea the first American woman in space was gay.

    My sister wanted to be an astronaut and was a big fan of her.

    I don't know of any gay male astronauts though. Hopefully one day soon a gay astronaut will come out.

    I
  • hebrewman

    Posts: 1367

    Jul 25, 2012 8:26 AM GMT
    hou2jax saidI went to one of only two elementary schools named after her. My claim to fame. lol


    look for someone on the right to put through a resolution to change the name of the schools because she was gay. ain't america great?!!!
  • TroyAthlete

    Posts: 4269

    Jul 25, 2012 5:50 PM GMT
    Too bad Whitney didn't come out in her obit.

    (Too soon?)