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  Public reaction to Sally Ride's personal life (Page 1)

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Author Topic:   Public reaction to Sally Ride's personal life
englau
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posted 07-24-2012 03:06 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for englau   Click Here to Email englau     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I hope it not be thought rude of disrespectful of me to make this topic today, but I felt somewhat compelled to write it after an overwhelming number of news stories and social media outlets who have made a large deal out of the last line of Dr. Ride's obituary.

I am having a hard time deciding how I feel about this... It seems a lot of people from my generation (I am 19) are more interested in who Dr. Ride chose to love than what she has done for humanity. I have even seen a lot of people in the gay community already claim her as "theirs" so to speak.

It seems like almost half of the news stories being written have their focus in the wrong place.

As her sister was quoted as saying (in regards to her sexuality), "that wasn't her battle of choice. The battle of choice was science education for kids. And I just hope that all the different components of Sally's life go towards helping kids."

I just hope that sentiment is what is remembered by my generation as well.

Sally will be greatly missed and remembered always for her legacy at NASA and beyond. Rest in peace...

On edit: I would be grateful to hear your perspective on how you feel about the media frenzy over this detail of Dr. Ride's life (note: not your opinion on her coming out, your opinion on the media's focus on her personal life).

David Bryant
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posted 07-24-2012 03:07 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for David Bryant   Click Here to Email David Bryant     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I don't care about Ms. Ride's sexuality: what business is that of anyone's? She was brave, intelligent and a wonderful example to girls and boys everywhere...

My deepest regret is not meeting her.

englau
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posted 07-24-2012 03:11 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for englau   Click Here to Email englau     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I too, wish I could have attended one of her lectures. Although, I am grateful that many of her talks are recorded and available online for the public, which is a wonderful service.

Robert Pearlman
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posted 07-24-2012 03:27 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I'll admit that my first reaction was very negative towards the news paying any attention to Ride having a partner, not because I have any issue with anyone being gay or bi-sexual but rather because I thought it detracted from the legacy that Ride had set out to create for herself.

But two things have started to change my mind on the topic:

  1. First and foremost, was Ride's sister, Bear, sharing her own thoughts on the topic (here with BuzzFeed):
    The pancreatic cancer community is going to be absolutely thrilled that there's now this advocate that they didn't know about. And, I hope the GLBT community feels the same.

    I hope it makes it easier for kids growing up gay that they know that another one of their heroes was like them.

  2. And that got me thinking about how, when I was a kid, it did help to know there were astronauts who were in some way like me. For example, both Judy Resnik and I were Jewish.

    But in my case, I didn't need to overcome any significant social challenges, especially compared to what the GLBT community still experiences today. If sharing the news that Ride had a partner helps anyone find the strength and inspiration to follow in her footsteps, than perhaps the headlines are merited.

Cozmosis22
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posted 07-24-2012 03:48 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Cozmosis22     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
While it is unfortunate that today's mass media and social media will run with this irrelevant side-issue of her lifestyle choice, it is a sign of the times.

What IS fortunate is that years from now she will be remembered for her brave spirit and pioneering flight aboard the second Challenger mission back in 1983.

Fezman92
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posted 07-24-2012 04:37 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Fezman92   Click Here to Email Fezman92     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I'm 19 as well and honestly I didn't know about that and I don't care. It is a trivial item about her life.

issman1
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posted 07-24-2012 04:45 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for issman1     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I'm sure the revelatory news about the late Sally Ride will put the spotlight on today's astronaut corps.

Could it also affect the selection of the next class of NASA astronauts, from GLBT pressure groups?

chappy
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posted 07-24-2012 05:13 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for chappy   Click Here to Email chappy     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I don't care what these people think of Sally Ride's sexuality... whether she is lesbian or bisexual, it doesn't matter, because she did a fantastic job in her two space missions. She contributes lots to the science and she gives 100% commitment to her work. We all are truly grateful for her kindness and she is one true icon to NASA that we missed her sadly but her name will go on forever...

fredtrav
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posted 07-24-2012 05:23 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for fredtrav   Click Here to Email fredtrav     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Boy, I can really tell I am old. When I first read partner, my first thought was this was the person who had co-authored her books and worked with her at Sally Ride Science.

As far as her sexuality, I don't care whether she was gay, bi, or whatever. She was a great astronaut and a great human being, period.

Robert Pearlman
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posted 07-24-2012 07:02 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by fredtrav:
When I first read partner, my first thought was this was the person who had co-authored her books and worked with her at Sally Ride Science.
She was the same person: Tam O'Shaughnessy.
Bear Ride, though, said that her sister "never hid her relationship with Tam. They have been partners, business partners in Sally Ride Science, they've written books together... Sally's very close friends, of course, knew."

fredtrav
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posted 07-24-2012 07:22 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for fredtrav   Click Here to Email fredtrav     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I had known that they were the same person, just did not connect the dots at first... an old mind going. Knew she had been married to Steve Hawley, so I just did not catch the meaning partner. As I said, it makes no difference, she was a great person.

Jay Chladek
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posted 07-24-2012 08:05 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Jay Chladek   Click Here to Email Jay Chladek     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Well, I remember reading the "partner" bit in the obituary and shuddering slightly as I didn't know how people were going to take it. I kind of wondered what the reaction might be of the world at large to learning the identity of a "gay" astronaut. But I was thinking to the future more than the past as at the time I had thought of it, we had no knowledge of Sally Ride being an apparent "lesbian".

I had thought about posing this question myself when I found out though, but opted not to do so because I felt the time wasn't proper for it. Ultimately it will be up to Tam to likely say something about it if she chooses to. I am thankful that by and large the majority of the thoughts I've been seeing posted about Ride over the past 24 hours have honored her accomplishments rather than her orientation. Which as I see it is likely how Sally Ride chose to be remembered.

I would say though that Sally and Tam staying private about it all these years tells me that Sally might have been wondering if coming out might be considered "too much information" at the time. Sally it seems did keep her private life very private, yet still continued to be the spokesperson for women's education in math and science. She chose that as her cause to champion instead of the other one (which some are now using by claiming her as their "champion" after her passing) probably out of fear that some doors might close while others would open. That does take a lot of guts (borrowing a line she said to Allan and Roger after their Challenger testimony).

I admit, I struggled with the thoughts yesterday after one email exchange. But when I saw a retrospective on Sally on the CBS news where they replayed a post flight mission comment by Ronald Reagan who said "Sally, it is not that you were the best man for the job or the best woman for the job, but rather you were the best person for the job" that had me finally thinking that ultimately other stuff doesn't really matter. It is another topic for another time. It will likely come up again as some in the LGBT community might use it to score points against Reagan and his administration's handling of the AIDS crisis (there are still some very raw feelings on that issue). But that will play out in its own way at its own time. I just hope it doesn't diminish Ride's accomplishments in the process.

Taking into context all her accomplishments as part of the first class of shuttle astronauts to include women and being chosen out of six very capable women candidates (all potentially just as big prima donas in their field as the male astronauts could be in theirs), ultimately she was indeed the best choice and the right choice for that first mission. While history has not many people remembering who the other members of the STS-7 crew were, the average person in public will still remember the name "Sally Ride" if it is spoken and potentially say it in the same breath as Glenn and Armstrong (sometimes Gagarin, sometimes Tereshkova).

That kind of fame can be a double edged sword though and while many are capable of performing the duties that come with the mission, they might not be as capable of dealing with its aftermath. Sally rose to the challenge and responsibility of what her perceived role was and accepted it. She embraced it and let it become a big part of her (even if she had to publicly supress another aspect of her life in the process). While I am not a woman, I can certainly accept her accomplishments as she helped to make the space program more interesting and relevant to many others out there. Sally Ride helped to make the world (and the space above it) a more interesting place. For that, I am glad she was around for the 61 years she was on this planet (minus the few days she was off planet).

AJ
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posted 07-24-2012 08:59 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for AJ   Click Here to Email AJ     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Cozmosis22:
While it is unfortunate that today's mass media and social media will run with this irrelevant side-issue of her lifestyle choice, it is a sign of the times.
I personally would not use the term "irrelevant", because I think it can be construed as being very condescending. I wouldn't say that who a person chooses to love, live with, date, etc., is irrelevant in the grand scheme of their life as a whole. To me, you're basically calling a committed 27-year relationship irrelevant and I find that disrespectful. I'm hoping you didn't mean for it to come across that way.

I agree with a lot of what Robert said. Being gay or straight should not define who you are, so it would be wrong to define Sally simply as a lesbian. At the same time, it was part of who she was and how she lived her life and it would be wrong to ignore that.

I think it is very easy, when you are not a minority, to gloss over the feelings and experiences of people who are. We live in a world where people are still judged for being gay, transgender, black, hispanic, jewish, muslim, native american, etc. To find inspiration in another person who somehow relates to your own situation can be a very inspiring thing. If Sally can be an inspiration not only as a scientist and an astronaut, but also as a woman and as a gay person, then I think that is fantastic and we would be foolish to deny anyone that.

Robert Pearlman
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posted 07-24-2012 09:02 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Two relevant, recent articles:

dogcrew5369
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posted 07-24-2012 09:18 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for dogcrew5369   Click Here to Email dogcrew5369     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
What was Steven Hawley's take on the whole situation was one of my first thoughts since they were married for a while. Surely he knew.

Robert Pearlman
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posted 07-24-2012 09:22 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
First, it should be noted that life is not black and white — as Alan Boyle at NBC News put it, "The fact that Ride was married to fellow astronaut Steven Hawley from 1982 to 1987 makes it complicated to categorize Ride's perspective, based on the public record." So, we shouldn't assume anything about what Hawley knew or not knew.

That said, he released a statement:

"Sally was a very private person who found herself a very public persona. It was a role in which she was never fully comfortable. I was privileged to be a part of her life and be in a position to support her as she became the first American woman to fly in space.

While she never enjoyed being a celebrity, she recognized that it gave her the opportunity to encourage children, particularly young girls, to reach their full potential.

Sally Ride, the astronaut and the person, allowed many young girls across the world to believe they could achieve anything if they studied and worked hard. I think she would be pleased with that legacy."

garyd2831
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posted 07-24-2012 10:02 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for garyd2831   Click Here to Email garyd2831     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Personally I don't care what she preferred for her personal life. She was a hero to me when I was younger and still is today.

I was just listening to the Billy Joel song "We Didn't Start the Fire". You know she was important when her name along with Glenn, and the events of Sputnik and Moonshot all made it into the song.

tncmaxq
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posted 07-24-2012 10:17 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for tncmaxq   Click Here to Email tncmaxq     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
News articles say she was with Tam for 27 years. But they also reported Sally was divorced from Steve Hawley in 1987. That was 25 years ago. I wonder if there is a typo in there somewhere or if the women began their relationship before the divorce was final.

Delta7
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posted 07-24-2012 11:48 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Delta7   Click Here to Email Delta7     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Sally obviously "found herself" at some point while she was still an astronaut. Many people discover their true sexuality later in life. One day, such a matter will be as irrelevant as whether one likes pizza with pepperoni or sausage.

RIP to a great person. Sally Ride. A life well lived.

Jay Chladek
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posted 07-25-2012 12:50 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Jay Chladek   Click Here to Email Jay Chladek     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Given how little is known about that aspect of Sally Ride's life, we can't say "obviously" in this situation. It will be up to Ride's friends and family (with Hawley included in the decision likely) to decide whether they want to go public about that aspect of her life or not and we should respect their privacy until if and when they do decide.

I don't believe it would be a good idea for cSers to openly speculate on a question of when or if Sally was "straight" or "gay" while she was an astronaut as it goes away from the knowledge base of most of our membership and gets into a topic that not many of us have real knowledge about. This is not like speculating what alternate crew might have landed on the moon if Neil Armstrong had been killed in the LLTV or something like that.

uk spacefan
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posted 07-25-2012 03:55 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for uk spacefan   Click Here to Email uk spacefan     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Being a good person and your contribution to society (not matter how small), is what matters regardless of your sexuality, religious creed and/or ethnicity.

Dr. Ride was a wonderful inspiration - gone at too young an age... long live her legacy.

YankeeClipper
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posted 07-25-2012 05:28 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for YankeeClipper   Click Here to Email YankeeClipper     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Inspiration and education were two of Sally Ride's greatest priorities. Her perspective and that of other pioneering astronauts is of global importance and is what should really concern the public.

At Spacefest III, Jim Lovell said it twice:

"We are 7 billion astronauts together on this spaceship we call Earth, with limited supplies of clean air, fresh drinking water, food, fuel, and resources."

Listen to Ed Mitchell and you will hear that message repeated:

"We need to learn to live together peacefully, stop depleting our resources on wars, and live sustainably."

How many times over the past 50 years have pioneering astronauts reminded us that you don't see the borders, conflicts and differences between people from a distance in space?

The scale of this universe is too big for preoccupation with one individual's gender/sexuality/personal life. Anyone who understands human genetic commonality, shared biochemistry, and biological development knows how interlinked ALL humans really are. Examine other species and you will find a wide spectrum of completely natural behaviors e.g. parthenogenesis, pair bonding, sequential hermaphroditism etc. It's all natural.

Ultimately, as diverse as humans are, we are all children of the stars.

jasonelam
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posted 07-25-2012 05:38 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for jasonelam   Click Here to Email jasonelam     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
When I saw that little line containing the word "partner" at the end of the obituary, I had a three letter response in my mind.

"And?"

Seriously, does it really matter? As long as an astronaut's personal life does not interfere with their professional life, it really has no bearing on them or their legacy in my mind.

Hart Sastrowardoyo
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posted 07-25-2012 06:32 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Hart Sastrowardoyo   Click Here to Email Hart Sastrowardoyo     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by fredtrav:
Boy, I can really tell I am old. When I first read partner, my first thought was this was the person who had co-authored her books and worked with her at Sally Ride Science.

I had a similar thought. When I read 'partner,' I thought Ride had been living with someone male for the past 27 years, and for whatever reason the two didn't get married.

Either way, it didn't matter to me.

Henry Heatherbank
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posted 07-25-2012 07:11 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Henry Heatherbank     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I had two thoughts about the obituary process:
  1. When I read the obituary about Ride's partner with what I considered an obviously female name, I was a little taken aback that it was mentioned at all. I was not particularly surprised or fussed about her sexuality; and

  2. I was also taken aback that Hawley had been sought out for special comment - her former husband from 25 years ago - but I was also a little puzzled by the tone of his obituary, which seemed overly factual and clinical, and lacking in warmth or emotion. It kind of rendered his obituary a little removed and unnecessary, at least to me.

Rick Mulheirn
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posted 07-25-2012 07:16 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Rick Mulheirn   Click Here to Email Rick Mulheirn     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Personally speaking, I don't consider this a subject appropriate for this or any other forum for that matter and Robert should consider closing the thread.

englau
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posted 07-25-2012 07:44 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for englau   Click Here to Email englau     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I respectfully disagree, Rick.

As you did not elaborate on your reason for your assertion, I can only speculate you either are upset by the news as you find it offensive or you are upset over the big deal that is being made of it because you find it irrelevant and perhaps In bad taste.

In either case, I would have to point out that, as many people missed, my question was not about whether you or anyone else was okay, didn't care, upset or anything else to Dr Rides coming out. My question was to hear others perspective on what the media has decided to focus on and perhaps gain some insight on how such a media frenzy over this is disrespectful, hurtful or helpful.

And I would argue that this is somewhat relevant to our board and the reason is as follows. Anecdotally, I was shocked to hear a lot of people in my age group ask who Sally Ride is (as they never lived through the history of her momentous flight) and none of the kids I'm teaching have ever heard of here. None. This media coverage only focusing on this aspect of her life is going to make a whole generation see her differently from the get-go than previous generations.

My generation and the generation after me will know her as gay, an astronaut and perhaps a few other things. Whereas older people will know her more for her accomplishments in the 80s and beyond. Maybe I'm wrong in that assertion. It seems sad to me that its happening at such a large scale, but I wanted to get other opinions on the matter.

Thank you, Mr. Pearlman, for not only keeping this thread up, but also offering your own perspective on the matter. I found it helpful.

jimsz
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posted 07-25-2012 07:51 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for jimsz     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
While I may disagree with some lifestyles people have or had — I personally don't care, nor should I, about someone's personal life.

Dr. Ride was not a spokesperson for any lifestyle organization (that I am aware of) so she seems to have thought it as personal matter and nobody else's business. Just as it should be.

englau
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posted 07-25-2012 07:57 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for englau   Click Here to Email englau     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I read somewhere that she had a hand in crafting how the obituary would read, which would imply she decided that she let that aspect of her life be known to the public posthumously.

But again, my question was not for anyones opinion on her sexuality. It was asking for their opinion on how the media has blown this up and how some even decided to focus soley on that aspect of her life. (and wether this is, in the long and short run, helpful, hurtful, disrespectful or anything of the like.)

Tykeanaut
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posted 07-25-2012 08:00 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Tykeanaut   Click Here to Email Tykeanaut     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
People do what they do and are who they are.

While the minutiae of a person's life may be of passing interest, I cannot understand the obsession of the media and the propaganda from peer groups.

uk spacefan
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posted 07-25-2012 08:29 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for uk spacefan   Click Here to Email uk spacefan     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
A number of the media sources only exist because they can find some minute detail of people's lives that they can sensationalise upon and/or profit from. It's when people get hurt that such reporting is disrespectful and harmful.

Here's hoping that the media give Dr. Ride's partner Tam,and family and friends the privacy and respect they need at such a difficult time for them.

ea757grrl
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posted 07-25-2012 08:29 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for ea757grrl   Click Here to Email ea757grrl     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I have to confess I haven't seen a lot of negative reactions, or seen anyone diminish Dr. Ride's achievements because of it. Maybe I haven't been reading widely enough, or maybe it's because we're so accustomed to public figures coming out these days, but even some places where I'd have expected to find veiled homophobia have instead focused on her accomplishments and how good a person she was.

While the sexuality of anyone besides myself is of little interest to me, and while I respect the right of anyone to choose the extent to which they publicly acknowledge their sexuality, I do echo Robert's earlier point that this revelation could help. I've had to serve as a sort of den mother to a few students in the GLBT community, and I know how valuable a positive role model can be to someone who's trying to make sense of it all and feels alone. I can't think of many role models more positive than Dr. Ride, who made the most of the too-short life she was granted, and who did so much inside and outside NASA to touch a lot of lives.

May she continue to inspire for decades to come, and may we get closer to a day when people - including astronauts - can feel free to be who they are without anyone giving them grief.

Hart Sastrowardoyo
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posted 07-25-2012 09:35 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Hart Sastrowardoyo   Click Here to Email Hart Sastrowardoyo     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by uk spacefan:
Here's hoping that the media give Dr. Ride's partner Tam,and family and friends the privacy and respect they need at such a difficult time for them.
But the media didn't dig this up — it was published in Ride's obit, crafted in part by Ride herself. And the uniqueness of such an admission is what is newsworthy — much like Ride was and will be associated with the uniqueness of being the first American woman in space. No one, to my knowledge, associated Janice Voss with being the 23rd female space traveler when she died, because that wasn't unique.

And I don't feel the media attention is disrespectful, hurtful or helpful. It's just something that is.

spaceman1953
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posted 07-25-2012 12:16 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for spaceman1953   Click Here to Email spaceman1953     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by David Bryant:
I don't care about Ms. Ride's sexuality: what business is that of anyone's? She was brave, intelligent and a wonderful example to girls and boys everywhere...
I cannot come up with a better way to say it, so I won't even try! I just want to echo these sentiments... sorry the issue is even being discussed here, and when I read the obituary about her partner Tam, I figured it could mean any number of things.

Thanks for making it easy for me to speak my piece.

YankeeClipper
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posted 07-25-2012 12:22 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for YankeeClipper   Click Here to Email YankeeClipper     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Here in Ireland, I first learned of Sally Ride's death through evening NBC and CBS TV bulletins. Both broadcasts paid glowing tribute to her and left an overwhelming positive impression. As did the brief coverage by Irish state broadcaster, RTE.

The media will always run with the controversial aspect of a story when first they learn of it. People will then filter that news according to their own values and beliefs born out of personal, familial, peer, cultural, educational, and religious influences. Some people will be inspired, some offended, some won't care who she was, and many won't ever know because they are too busy dealing with war, hunger, disease, or poverty.

Hopefully the media coverage will challenge beliefs, enlighten, inspire and help to normalise what some perceive as a taboo. If NASA and the Astronaut Corps have no issues with gender/sexuality impacting upon flight crew performance and mission success then this issue fades into the background.

In the 1960s, divorce among astronauts was the taboo issue over concerns about public perception and implied psychological stability. Today, for some, it's GLBT. But over time none of that really figures in terms of legacy. When I reflect on Apollo 15 today, I think of some great images and geological and lunar science - I don't think of postal covers.

Ultimately, as a pioneering astronaut, Sally Ride proved she had the "Right Stuff" and has blazed a trail to the heavens, inspiring others to follow. What a wonderful legacy!

xlsteve
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posted 07-25-2012 12:38 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for xlsteve   Click Here to Email xlsteve     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I had the opportunity to meet Dr. Ride at one of her science fairs at MIT. I'm grateful for that opportunity.

I have to admit that I didn't know about the "partner" comment until reading this thread today, but it didn't shock me or affect my admiration for her in any way. If this information allows her to be a greater inspiration for even more people, then it's a good thing. Until this type of information doesn't make the news, and is just viewed as a normal part of life we still have a problem. I think that day is a long way off though.

I'm guessing that Dr Ride was not the only GLBT astronaut. Just the only one we know about.

cspg
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From: Geneva, Switzerland
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posted 07-25-2012 01:57 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for cspg   Click Here to Email cspg     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Fezman92:
I'm 19 as well and honestly I didn't know about that and I don't care. It is a trivial item about her life.

I fully agree.

And the timing of this "news" coming out (no pun intended) is far more inappropriate and despicable than the "profiteering" from her autographs on ebay, if you ask me.

Robert Pearlman
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posted 07-25-2012 02:22 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
It is clear that Sally Ride Science and Ride's family knew exactly what they were doing when they included the reference to O'Shaughnessy being Ride's partner in their obituary. It was not a mistake.

If Ride can be hailed as the first U.S. woman in space, why is it inappropriate to also hail her as the first female member of the GLBT community to fly in space, too?

I don't recall the obituaries when Jim Irwin died, but I don't believe anyone would have suggested it inappropriate for obituaries to highlight his strong belief in Christianity. I am sure there were many readers then who knew little to nothing about Irwin's life after NASA and only remembered him as a moonwalker (if they remembered him at all). So, his own religious expeditions after his passing would have been newsworthy as well.

Sally Ride was an icon but she was also a person. Her family's remarks seem to suggest they are not doing anything against her wishes by speaking about her sexuality. Her relationship with O'Shaughnessy was obviously something important to her and ignoring that in her death would be painting an incomplete picture the person who was Sally Ride.

cspg
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posted 07-25-2012 02:39 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for cspg   Click Here to Email cspg     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Robert Pearlman:
If Ride can be hailed as the first U.S. woman in space, why is it inappropriate to also hail her as the first female member of the GLBT community to fly in space, too?
Because it seems (and with a bit of luck I'll be wrong) that this is coming out after her death. Was it well-known that she was a member of the GLBT when she was alive? If so, did the media make a big deal out of it then?

onesmallstep
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posted 07-25-2012 02:40 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for onesmallstep   Click Here to Email onesmallstep     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
If anything, the 'revelation' of Dr. Ride's lesbianism only serves to humanize a profession where oftentimes a person can be put on a pedestal and his/her life story is not viewed through all its foibles, heartaches, life experiences and simple triumphs. In the 60s, married astronauts were the ideal to view a nation's new heroes, even before they flew into space.

But as is now known, many marriages did not survive the intense workload (and also personal infidelities) of the astronauts. We can only guess what went on in those marriages. By the same token, Dr. Hawley's comments on his ex-wife's passing was to the point and respectful, as it should be (contrary to what a previous post here said); anything that went on in their marriage (or reasons for a divorce) was between them.

By acknowledging at her death an (obviously) loving relationship of twenty-some years, her personal life story becomes even more relevant, and perhaps more inspiring, than her space flights as gay people find more acceptance in society-and teach others who are not so understanding that heroes can also inspire quietly without regard to race, gender, or lifestyle.

Much like Rock Hudson, the ideal leading man in films and TV who died of AIDS, sometimes a celebrity or famous person can break through the third wall and speak to us in life-or death-about the issues we face today. One day, hopefully, we may give little thought as to wether an astronaut has a male or female partner (or is in a same-sex marriage). For that, perhaps we have Dr. Ride to thank, and for being another pioneer, unplanned or not.


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