Guest Author - Lynn Marie Wilson
Sally Ride died in 2012 at the age of 61 from pancreatic cancer. Although she was briefly married to fellow astronaut Steven Hawley, the love of her life was Tam O'Shaughnessy, a long-time friend and her eventual lifelong partner.
Most children grow up with grandiose career aspirations. As parents, we tell our children that they can be "whatever they want" when they grow up. So children say they want to be ballerinas, lawyers, astronauts, and doctors. They say they want to be judges and the President and writers. Children who are LGBT are seeing, more and more, that those in the LGBT community can do great things, too. The door is no longer closed because someone is open about their sexual orientation or gender identity.
Sally Ride didn't have the option to be "out". At that time, the government had witchhunts for gay individuals, and Ride would likely never have been able to go into space. Although now we know that she was at least bisexual if not simply a lesbian, and so she gives hope to both young girls and the lgbt community that we can all achieve great things.
I believe that it matters to be out. I don't think that everyone has to come "out" as LGBT or as an ally right this second, but I think everyone who is honest helps. It helps because we are not an obscure minority as some groups like to think. We are a legitimate segment of the population, and we matter!
Another notable gay scientist was Alan Turing, who was a remarkable computer scientist, mathematician, and cryptologist. His cryptology work helped the Allied forces tremendously during the Second World War. Unlike Ride, Turing was a known homosexual and was thus subjected to incredibly discriminating practices which included hiding his own work from him and forcing him to submit to hormone therapy in order to avoid imprisonment.
I believe that the more notable celebrities, public figures, scientists, and everyday citizens come out of the closet as either allies or LGBT individuals, the more the youth will see that it does "get better". That being LGBT is not the end of the world. That you can achieve great things even in the face of personal adversity.
You can visit Ride's official website here: https://www.sallyridescience.com/sallyride/bio