If you know anything about Sally Ride, who died yesterday of pancreatic cancer at the age of 61, it’s that she was the first American woman in space. And, sadly, that’s probably it. But it turns out Ride was a pioneer in another way as well: She was gay. Ride came out of the closet in her website’s obituary:
In addition to Tam O’Shaughnessy, her partner of 27 years, Sally is survived by her mother, Joyce; her sister, Bear; her niece, Caitlin, and nephew, Whitney; her staff of 40 at Sally Ride Science; and many friends and colleagues around the country.
So why is she only coming out now? Blame Norway. “Sally had a very fundamental sense of privacy,” her sister*, Bear Ride, tells Buzzfeed, “it was just her nature, because we’re Norwegians, through and through.” We’d never heard that about Norwegians. We’re learning a lot today.
*Bear Ride is Sally Ride’s sister, not her niece.