Sally Ride was the first American female astronaut and came out as lesbian in her obituary after dying Monday of pancreatic cancer. Ride battled pancreatic cancer for 17 months prior to her death.
Joining her in writing her obituary was her partner of 27 years, Tam O'Shaughnessy.
The astronaut comes out story has caused a stir among homosexuals whom think Sally Ride should have exposed her sexual orientation earlier.
"For her not to have shared an incredibly important aspect of her life -- being in a committed long-term relationship with a woman -- meant many Americans did not get to see a dimension of her life that would have helped them understand us (gay people) and our contributions to society," said Fred Sainz, the Vice President of Communications for the Human Rights Campaign on the astronaut comes out story.
Sainz believes Ride could have changed the image of homosexuals and shed light on those less understanding of gay rights.
While the homosexual population would have appreciated support from a well-respected individual like Ride, the astronaut comes out story emphasizes how important privacy was to Ride.
Bloggers are buzzing with comments such as, “She was the absent heroine,” wrote EMissourian.com. But, the first gay bishop of the Anglican world to come out respects Ride’s choice for privacy.
Episcopal Bishop Gene Robinson of New Hampshire said, “For girls who had an interest in science and wanted to go places women had not been allowed to go, she was a tremendous role model," adding, "The fact that she chose to keep her identity as a lesbian private — I honor that choice."
Robinson is a firm believer in coming out young as he believes this generation’s youth faces decreased consequences for its gay population.
Similar to Ride’s privacy in the astronaut comes out story is that no American baseball, basketball, hockey or football players have come out during their careers. Usually, they have waited until retirement to expose one of the most private aspects of their lives.
According to EMissourian.com, on the brighter side of the astronaut comes out story, Sainz added, “However, the fact [that] it was acknowledged in death will be an incredibly powerful message to all Americans about the contributions of their LGBT counterparts."