Sally Ride's Sister, on the Wikipedia Debate Over Homosexuality: "Sally Hated Labels of Every Kind"

Categories: LGBT News
Sally Ride
See also: Sally Ride Revealed to Be Gay: Her Sister, on Ride's Life, Death, and Desires for Privacy.

Well, internet, it looks like if you want to more accurately label late astronaut Sally Ride's homosexual relationship, you're going to have to look to people other than Sally's sister, Bear Ride.

Much has been made of the revelation, confirmed by New Times on Monday, that Ride spent the last 27 years of her life in a same-sex relationship. Much has also now been made (see Gawker, the Advocate, Wikipedia) about what to call it. The debate is centered over her Wikipedia page, which people have been bickering about since hours after her death. Did she identify as gay? She was married to a man, after all; maybe she was bisexual, Wiki contributors postulated. Queer? Maybe, since she never publicly labeled it, we can't say she was anything.

We checked with Bear Ride to see if she wanted to clarify. It appears she does not: She said she would email a statement, which she did. But it doesn't offer much of anything to the people seeking to fit her sister into a category.

"Sally hated labels of every kind -- including 'hero' ...sigh," she wrote.

Although the Wikipedia entry initially listed Ride as the first lesbian in space in the first paragraph, that information has now been relegated to the bottom of the "Personal life, and death" section, which says, "Ride is thus the first person to have been in space whose same-sex relationship was publicly acknowledged." Seems as label-free as it gets, if rather obvious in its absence of categorization.

The rest of Bear Ride's statement mirrors her comments to this newspaper and Buzzfeed; she says that "Sally had a very fundamental sense of privacy" and that her memorial fund will be in support of pancreatic cancer. The only other information for the interpreter vultures is this:
I hope 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.
It's a beautiful sentiment -- one that's being lost amid all these technicalities. Can't we take this for what it is?

She did not respond to a follow-up email, probably because her sister died suddenly and this is not really the most important thing to her family right now. Maybe we'll never know if Ride was a "lesbian" or what she identified as when she was in space or if she identified as anything. And maybe that's OK.

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Unfortunately, the message is: If you want to be "successful" you have to not be gay. Gay is not a label as much as it is a fundamental aspect that defines what we are, a cultural, and informs who we are naturally attracted - and thus who we love and choose to have a life relationship "marriage", as well as limitations and lack of benefits that can support and sustain a life and relationship. If you don't speak of your "private life/relationship", people - heterosexuals will assume you are heterosexual (label?). So orientation does matter. By the way, not so private since she did INFORM us that she was MARRIED to a MAN, and therefore presumed HETEROSEXUAL! EXAMPLE:


Watching the Olympics last night, while an American (label) female swimmer was about to compete, the commentator made a point of identifying her BOYFRIEND (label) in the locker room who was there to cheer her on... Relevance??? What if she was a PRIVATE PERSON...


Sally Ride can be categorized as three things:  A hero, a role-model and a pioneer.  Enough said.

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