Sally Ride Revealed to Be Gay: Her Sister, on Ride's Life, Death, and Desires for Privacy (UPDATED)

Categories: Environment
UPDATE 2, 7/25: Also see our latest post, Sally Ride's Sister, on the Wikipedia Debate Over Homosexuality: "Sally Hated Labels of Every Kind."

UPDATE, 8 p.m.: The post has been updated to include comment from Bear Ride, Sally Ride's sister.
See also: Sally Ride Dead at 61.

Sally Ride, the first U.S. woman in space, died today at the age of 61. An announcement from Sally Ride Science notes that Ride is outlived by "Tam O'Shaughnessy, her partner of 27 years." O'Shaughnessy is the chief operating officer and executive vice president of Sally Ride Science -- and a woman, revealing that one of the most famous members of the United States space program was gay.

The announcement puts the start of their relationship at around 1985 -- while Ride was still married to fellow astronaut Steven Hawley. Sally Ride Science spokeswoman Terry McEntee confirmed the announcement -- when asked if Ride was gay, she said, "Yes. That's true. What's on the website is true."

Ride's sister, Bear, who is also gay, told New Times Monday night that her sister never publicly revealed her sexual orientation because of a closely held commitment to her personal privacy.

"Sally was a profoundly private person. It was just part of who she was. We chalk that up to being Norwegian," Bear said. "She had a sense of 'this is family stuff.'"

But Bear said Sally didn't make any efforts to hide the relationship: "They went places together, they're in business together, they wrote books together," she said. "We consider Tam a member of the family."

But that desire for privacy, Bear said, is what kept Sally from taking a stand on gay rights.

"We all have our dreams and wishes, and that might be yours or mine, but she's just like, you probably dont know what her politics are either. It's a family matter," Bear said. "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."

She did say, however, that "we think that it's a good thing" that it's been disclosed publicly now.

As for Sally's illness, Bear said she was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in March 2011, which came "as a huge surprise."

"She's been beating it off for 16, 17 months, and she went through chemo and then had fairly extensive surgery this October," Bear said, referring to the Whipple Procedure. "And then some more chemo, and she really thought she was coming out ahead of it. But in the end, it just wasn't enough."

She said Sally entered hospice care two weeks ago. She died this morning.

"She had a smile on her face and was surrounded by her family," Bear said. "Her work here was done."

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DonkeyHotay topcommenter

In other news ... Tom Cruise is still hiding in the closet.



I commend Ms. Ride for keeping her private life private. While I do not condone homosexuality, I do respect the private aspect of it. I do not need to know what a person is doing in their bedroom. It does not reflect their intellect, their job performance, their impact on society, or their concern for their fellow man. It is just one part of who they are, and quite frankly, it does not define them. I only wish more homosexuals felt this way. These two women did not feel the need to get "married". They obviously shared their lives successfully without this formality. It is very apparent that they were highly intelligent, happy, and did not feel the need to make asses of themselves on the public stage. They were more active in the lives of others and truly cared about educating children in the field of science. THAT is what is more important. THAT is what this country needs more than anything, educating hungry minds in the fields of math and science. My condolences to the Ride family. 


I think you may have missed the point of what Ms. Ride was saying about her sister. She wasn't ashamed or afraid to be gay she just didn't want to be defined by it. She, and I am so proud of her for her stance, felt she should be judge for her work in the field of science, especially as it relates to getting kids more involved with it, than waving her private and personal business in everyone's face. She didn't hide it, good god she was with her partner for 27 years not like no one knew, she just lived her life. Not every gay, straight, bi or whatever has to have their personal and private life dragged into the light just because the public feels it has a right to know. She was a woman who charted new heights for girls to hang their dreams on. Go ahead...ride, Sally, ride and thank you for showing us the stars don't have limits if we want to touch them, we can.

Anthonyvop1 topcommenter

Another great piece of information from NISWAK....... the National Institute of Shit We Already Know.


Sally Ride represented everythng America can be proud of.  Thanks, Sally.  (Sniff)


Sally was just another example of how the closet , enforced by terror,  prevented us long ago from knowing an Astronaught was gay.


Shame on the people who perpetuate this religous based zealotry in the name of God.


IMHO re gays marrying - I support it but I personally think that first most of the closet has to be dismantled.


Including the leaders of the anti gay hate groups who as pathological liars about their sexuality cause so many problems.  George Rekers, founder of the FRC and former head of Narth, which claims to fix gays.  well, see the linke  


 @davidamburns Of course, Tam is precluded from partaking of her military / civil service retirement, social security benefits, will pay higher estate taxes and could even have been precluded from Sally's Hospice room, had the family been of that mindset.  Your position is one of "Queers are fine as long as we don't know about them."  Here's a suggestion -- provide truly equal rights with other American citizens and there'll be little reason to talk about one's sexual orientation.  Your type of bigotry, however, is some of the most offensive.


 @davidamburns They did not feel the need to get "married"?  Way to be able to mind-read. You should offer your services to the government.


Also, good to know that any individual who wants to get married is 'making an ass of themselves on the public state'.  My folks just celebrated their 37th, I'll be sure to let them know what asses they are. They never did bother keeping their private lives private.  I don't think that would bother you though, would it? Admit that you just don't like gay people sharing their lives rather than trying to make it seem like you value blanket privacy.


By the way, these legally-married 62 year old parents of mine are pro-equality. They were teenagers when interracial marriage finally became legal, they understand how nonsensical it is to withhold rights from a group of Americans. You could learn something from them, starting with how to seem like less of a sanctimonious twit. So pardon me if no one cares what you condone.


 @nanny3 I don't think I missed the point, but I know what you're saying. The question I asked her wasn't about whether we had a right to pry into Ride's life, the question was about whether Bear was disappointed that someone as influential as Sally Ride was didn't make a stand for gay rights when she could have made such a significant difference.


 @Tarik861 We do not know how these two women financially cared for each other and quite frankly it's none of our business. Unmarried heterosexuals who co-habitate together have to deal with the same issues. It is a lifestyle choice Tarik861. I don't see any conflict on interest in the Ride family as to who got to sit by her side in her final days since the Ride sister was also gay. It seems to me these people managed their lives quietly and had some class to themselves. 


"Provide truly equal rights with other American citizens and there'll be little reason to talk about one's sexual orientation." Okay let's do that. Let's allow equal rights to unmarried heterosexuals. Equal rights to polygamists. Equal rights to NAMBLA members. Equal rights to people like, philosopher Peter Singer, who believes animals should have equal rights to the point where the owners have rights to marry their pets. Equal rights to relatives who love and wish to marry one another. The list is endless. I will tell you this for sure, if gay people have the right to civil unions and the benefits that come with that, somebody sure as hell better change the laws on the books for unmarried straight people who live together. I just wonder how many people, who don't really like marriage, have to get roped into that just to reap the financial benefits from it? That is some kind of BS if you ask me.


As for, "Queers are fine as long as we don't know about them" statement, YOU GOT THAT RIGHT. Keep that perverted stuff to yourself. If you feel it defines you, then YOU have the problem, not me. What if I were to walk onto the world stage and declare I love having sex with my brother and we would like to get married? How do you think the world would react? The world would have a fit and find me repulsive. Remember how the world reacted when Angelina Jolie put a lip lock on her brother? Watch Jerry Springer lately or Steve Wilkos? Perversion is perversion no matter how you choose to twist it around to fit your agenda.


YOUR type of lifestyle or tolerance is some of the most offensive. 


 @Dr_O I was opining about gay people getting married, not heterosexual people getting married. BTW, what does this sentence mean, " Way to be able to mind-read." Poor grammar there Dr_O. I have no problem with gay people sharing their lives. Do you even know how to read or rather comprehend what you read?


What I do not like is gay people pushing their agenda and their bedroom preferences down my throat and trying to re-write what a marriage is, A union between one man and one woman for the main purpose of procreation and raising of the children. It's a Christian belief. I am assuming you are not a Christian, hence, the angry insulting reply. We insult what we do not understand.


I also do not condone interracial marriage or unions. I find that repulsive and it contributes to the killing of a race and a culture. My Bible clearly states people, as well as animals, should not be unequally yoked. If you look at royalty, they rarely marry outside the gene pool and the same with the Amish. God did not want the Jews marrying outside their race or religion. You obviously have not read the Bible nor have your parents. I am not sanctimonious at all Dr_O. I just go by the rule Book. Unequally yoked in the Bible mostly refers to the believer with the unbeliever. With that said, people of mixed races and religions have no business intermarrying because it will be a conflict in how to raise the children. If you would like to read for your own reference, here are a few verses from the KJV Bible: Leviticus 19:19, Deuteronomy 7:3, Acts 17:26. These are merely a few I could think of. There are many more on this subject.


Am I stating people who intermarry are sinning and on their way to hell? Of course I am not saying that. However, they are teaching their children liberal tolerance and acceptance of all peoples, religions, and choices. That is a Utopian mindset and it does not work. My Bible teaches me that there is only one God, one Jesus, and one way to heaven.  I stand behind my original comment on the Ride story. I admire her private nature. The country knew and respected her for her contributions to the space program. They did not admire her for her sexual preferences. You may not care what I condone, but my God does. I have to answer to Him someday and not to insulting unbelievers such as yourself. Thank you and have a blessed day.


 @lstyle96  @davidamburns  @Dr_O If you are referring to me Istyle96, I am not sitting in judgment of anyone. I am merely stating what is in MY Bible. I didn't write it. I didn't make the rules. I am merely passing them along.


As to the argument of what Jesus truly looked like, you make an excellent point, "you have not ever seen a true picture of him...only those made in what people feel is the likeness of him".


I am assuming Jesus was a Jew since his earthly mother was a Jew. He had to have looked like the Jewish men of his time. The Old Testament describes the coming Messiah as such:


Isaiah 53:1-2

"Who has believed our report? And to whom has the arm (Jesus) of the Lord been revealed? For He shall grow up before Him as a tender plant, and as a root out of dry ground. He has no form or comliness; and when we see Him, there is no beauty that we should desire Him."


We always see Jesus in paintings with long hair. However, the Bible states in a letter from Paul to the Corinthians:


1 Cor: 11:14-15

"Does not even nature itself teach you that if a man has long hair, it is a dishonor to him? But if a woman has long hair, it is a glory to her; for her hair is given to her for a covering."


Paul wrote to this book/letter to the people of Corinth. This was after the death of Jesus. Corinth at the time was full of disunity, sexual immorality, and sectarianism. If the men were sporting long hair then perhaps they were degenerates. By the same token, if the women were sporting short or shaven hair, they too may have been degenerates.


I think in order to get some idea of what Jesus looked like in his time, I think we would have to do research into what the men, ie: His disciples looked like. But God made it clear in Isaiah that Jesus was not an Adonis and should not have been looked upon as a sexually attractive man.


As far as "judging" that we Christians are all the time accused of doing, please read the following verse:


John 7:24

"Do not judge according to appearance, but judge with righteous judgment."


There is a big difference here. As Christians we are not to judge by the outward appearance or through our own biases. However, we are expected to judge/discern by the teachings of Jesus Christ, in other words, a righteous judgment.


Surely you must agree that in our everyday life, no matter what creed you practice, we human beings judge people, places, and circumstances all the time. It's how we survive. There is nothing wrong with common sense judgments coupled with morality and ethics. You cannot convince me that you do not judge something or someone at least once a day in your life.



@davidamburns @Dr_O It kills me how some people feel they have the right to judge others. That too is a sin. No one knows for sure what race Jesus or God is.... you have not ever seen a true picture of him...only those made in what people feel is the likeness of him. Jesus could be made of up of all races! Now thats a thought! How about we are all decendants of Adam and Eve? Of Abraham... If they were all white... where did black people come from? arabs? Chinese? etc....


 @Not_a_bigot Nothing in the Bible about divorce? Please read the following:


Deuteronomy 24:1 (Old Testament)

"When a man takes a wife and marries her, and it happens that she finds no favor in his eyes because he has found some uncleanness in her, and he writes her a certificate of divorce, puts it in her hand, and sends her out of his house.


Mark 10:6-9  (New Testament)

"But from the beginning of the creation, God 'made them male and female'. For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh, so then they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let not man separate."


Mark 10:11-12

"Whoever divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery against her. And if a woman divorces her husband and marries another, she commits adultery."


1 Cor: 7:10-11

"Now to the married I command, yet not I but the Lord: A wife is not to depart from her husband. But even is she does depart, let her remain unmarried or be reconciled to her husband. And a husband is not to divorce his wife."


1 Cor: 6:9-10

"Do not be deceived. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate/homosexuals, nor sodomites, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the kingdom of God."


Lucado, Max. "The Inspirational Study Bible" 1995


Would you like me to provide more passages from my Bible to peruse and ponder over? I am not trying to shove my religion down anybody's throat. I was merely stating my opinion on a public forum about Ms. Sally Ride and how I admired her for her stance on privacy. It seems others have a problem with my opinion in taking it out of context. Not once did I ever suggest the family of Ms. Ride should be born again Christians in order to go to heaven. Not once!!!! It is the gay or tolerant community that is jumping all over me trying to turn my positive opinion into something vile and trying to shove THEIR opinions down MY throat.




 @davidamburns  @Dr_O

 Your bible also says adultry is an abomination.  Same wording.  Nothing about divorce.  Also says not to have sex before marriage.  But hey--you want to pick and choose which passages to believe in.  You are an idiot who doesn't know the bible.  It is YOU who are trying to shove your religon down other people's throats.

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