Bil Browning

Did Astronaut Sally Ride Come Out Too Late?

Filed By Bil Browning | July 25, 2012 6:30 PM | comments

Filed in: Gay Icons and History, Living, Media
Tags: coming out of the closet, first American woman in space, gay celebrities, LGBT celebrities, LGBT historial figures, obituary, Sally Ride

There's been some minor controversy lately after astronaut Sally Ride came out in her obituary. While out to family and friends, she never came out publicly while she was alive. But did she have a responsibility to do it?

Associated Press writer David Crary tackles the topic today and does a really good job of getting both sides of the issue. Sally.jpgHe points out that when Ride was in the public eye, LGBT rights weren't nearly as advanced and mainstream. He also asks what the responsibilities of being a celebrity are for LGBT people - specifically namedropping Anderson Cooper and Queen Latifah.

Living up to my Libra heritage, I can see both sides of the issue.

Another gay journalist, widely followed blogger Bil Browning, said the revelation about Ride left him with mixed feelings.

"I wish that she had come out while she was alive," he said. "The statement that would have been sent to young lesbians across the country would have been like Obama's election was to African-American kids."

On the other hand, he acknowledged generational differences and said Ride was entitled to her privacy.

"The activist in me thinks it's a missed opportunity," Browning said. "But she did the right thing at the end."

Bluntly put, Sally Ride's legacy as the first American woman in space is a bigger accomplishment than who she went to sleep with every night. We don't know enough about the latter to make a judgment and we do know what a critical role she played in the development of the American space program.

But what do you think? Did Ride have a responsibility as a historical figure to come out? Or should we butt out and just be thankful that she chose to do it when she passed? I'll be interested to see your thoughts.

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