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Views & Voices

Can my ‘gay community’ please stop whining about Sally Ride?

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

For those in my gay community whining about all the good Sally Ride could have done had she only “come out;” I say — Get over yourself.

For most gays and lesbians, the hardest thing we will ever do in our lives is “come out.” It’s personal, and absolutely no one can dictate to you the time, day, or moment you have to come out. It’s a scary straight world, full of hate, anger, bigotry, ignorance, and people who want to do nothing more than make a mockery of your life.

Sally Ride

It took me 50 years to find the strength and courage, so I totally understand my brothers and sisters who can’t find the strength and courage to step out from behind the curtain.

It doesn’t mean their lives don’t matter, and it doesn’t mean we don’t support them in every way possible.

It’s not like she was hiding who she was or living in the closet.

She was with her partner for 27 years — I don’t know about you, but I’d call that a committed relationship. Her family was obviously well aware of her orientation, and quite supportive of her and her partner. Why do you think she owed you any explanation about her life?

Could she have made a difference had she come out and been an advocate for the gay community?

Perhaps, but why is it you think she owed anything to the gay community? Perhaps she didn’t want to be exploited as the “First Lesbian Astronaut,” and we all know that is exactly what would have happened.

From all accounts, she was intensely private, and intensely private is not always something the gay community understands.

We sometimes expect our famous gay and lesbian brothers and sisters to carry our banner to every corner of the world, shouting how we deserve and demand equal rights, when the reality is that they are simply trying to live a gay life in a straight world just as you and I are. I don’t believe we have the right to ask or demand that of anyone.

She only could have made a huge difference if she would have been comfortable being the mouthpiece for the LGBT community. It’s hard enough sometimes to accept who you are without having to do it on a stage with millions of people scrutinizing every little thing you say and every little movement you make.

I don’t blame people for not wanting to come out – I wouldn’t want to be placed in that position, or held up to a certain standard that no matter what would never please everyone.

And let’s be honest – people can be brutal in their assessment of who they think you should be.

The truth of the matter is – being gay is not a choice we make, it’s simply who we are. I would think that those of us who have been through, and continue to go through, the ups and downs of being out in a straight world would be a little more understanding.

However, society, especially various portions of the religious part of it, doesn’t seem to want to accept that, so they have labels they place on everything and everyone to keep us all separate from one another. They simply cannot allow that we are all Americans. We must be African-American, Mexican-American, Gay-American, Muslim-Americans, Jewish-Americans, Japanese-Americans, you fill-in-the-blank-Americans. Anything to keep us divided and keeps us in our place as “the other.”

Sally Ride lived a life of quiet dignity. She did more to help young women find self-esteem, and believe in themselves that most of us will ever imagine doing in our lifetime.

Have we stopped to consider that had she “come out” she may not have had that chance to teach and touch so many lives? She would have been considered as one the ‘the other’ and certainly the money and the chances would not have been so forthcoming for her. Why can’t we let her have her life of quiet dignity? Why can’t we just honor her for who she was and what she gave the world?

Instead of whining about Sally Ride, why don’t you go out in the world and make a difference? If you can change just one heart and one mind, you have changed the world just a little.

Write, talk, vote… Don’t expect someone to do it for you – go out and make the change you want to see…

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24 more reader comments:

  1. Cool!

    Posted on Wednesday, July 25, 2012 at 3:15pm
  2. People are actually complaining? How? She make such a huge step for all women. I am proud to know she is part of our lgbtq family. She had amazing courage to stand up in a man’s world then. I hope Sally rests in peace. She more than did her part in our world. Thank you to her!

    Posted on Wednesday, July 25, 2012 at 3:18pm
  3. She was a fucking astronaut, she doesn’t owe anyone anything else

    Posted on Wednesday, July 25, 2012 at 3:23pm
  4. The article doesn’t provide a single example of Ride being derided from within the gay community. The only complaining I’ve seen has been about how her partner of 27 years is denied survivor benefits.

    Posted on Wednesday, July 25, 2012 at 3:23pm
  5. People are angry about this? It was her life. If she wanted to keep her private life private than she is allowed to. She still made history for women and she was one of my heroes growing up.

    Posted on Wednesday, July 25, 2012 at 3:25pm
  6. She lived her life the way she wanted which is the way it should be. It is up to the individual when or if they want to come out. Sometimes there are reasons one can’t come out including knowing how family will react so you do the best you can. Sally was, is and will always be one of our hero’s and no one should be judging what she should have done unless you walked in her shoes.

    Posted on Wednesday, July 25, 2012 at 3:25pm
  7. seriously…

    Posted on Wednesday, July 25, 2012 at 3:28pm
  8. My Mom’s from Texas too and she still has not come out. After MILK I understood and while it’s still unreal won’t stand in the closet anymore but I understand… It’s NASA! I am glad to know a women like my mom has been in space!!
    <3 Sally Ride you are missed & I Hate Cancer (Cancer Sucks!)

    Posted on Wednesday, July 25, 2012 at 3:31pm
  9. I think Sally Ride is a great American Hero. What I don’t like about this whole thing is that her partner of 27 years does not get a dime in federal survivor benefits, nor that organizations like the Cub Scouts would mark her unfit to be a Den Mother. Pretty shitty way to treat a hero, don’t you think?

    Posted on Wednesday, July 25, 2012 at 3:32pm
  10. I haven’t heard anyone complain…

    Posted on Wednesday, July 25, 2012 at 3:41pm
  11. I so totally agree. Get off her ass. She was so brave, more then she needed to be, just to compete in the fields of science, just to be chosen to be in the space shuttle. I appreciate the toll staying quiet might have taken on her. I am impressed by her… Her dignity, her achievments, her dedication. She passes from this life -respected and admired. That’s all. Ask someone else to carry the flag. Don’t assume they should.

    Posted on Wednesday, July 25, 2012 at 3:47pm
  12. Sally had a partner of 27 years. Obviously, she was out to those who knew and loved her. The fact that she wasn’t on the cover of People magazine with the words I’m Gay splashed across the front shouldn’t be any issue. It was her life and she had every right to be as open about her sexually as she wanted. If people in the gay community are truly whining about it then they really should be ashamed of themselves.

    Posted on Wednesday, July 25, 2012 at 3:52pm
  13. @Greg and Clay, I have read people making comments that trash her for not coming out sooner. Curve magazine comments were full of it.Other forums had more of the same. Mostly young people that have no clue what it is like to live in a time when LGBT people had NO rights at all.

    Posted on Wednesday, July 25, 2012 at 4:09pm
  14. I wish people in the LGBT community would allow people in their own community be allowed to make choices….not every LGBTQ person, be they famous or not, needs or wants to “come out” to the world….and why should they? If they want to, that’s great, it’s another “voice” and face for the young LGBT to look up to….but if they don’t because they want to keep their sexual orientation private, not out of being ashamed, afraid, etc. but purely out of just wanting to only keep it between them and their loved ones, then that should be respected too. Just because one is out of the closet doesn’t mean they need to let the entire world know about it. Let people be, as long as they know who they are and love who they are, what everyone else thinks or what everyone knows about does not matter.

    Posted on Wednesday, July 25, 2012 at 4:29pm
  15. I’ve seen some complaining and it kind of just makes me pissed off. It was her life and the people close to her knew, she had no reason to go and shout it out to the world unless she wanted to. But apparently she was a private person to begin with, it wasn’t like we were reading stories about her personal life like…ever. Just about her being an amazing woman, the first female astronaut, and just an all around great person for some of the things she did. I was in one of her programs when I was in middle school where I got stuff sent to me like once a month that told me about careers in the field, information on space, and I believe there was also a lot of emphasis on how women can do anything that men can do if they put their heart into it and try their hardest. She was very inspiring to me when I was little. I’m thrilled to find out that she was a lesbian because she has such a beautiful legacy she is leaving behind, and I haven’t seen anyone bashing her for being gay, just people remembering her for what she has done. But I have seen people bashing her for not publicly coming out, which is stupid, she is allowed to live life the way she wanted to. I choose to be open about my sexuality, and if I were a celebrity I would be open about it, but that’s just me. Some people just want to live in peace and not have their personal life out there, no one had to know who she was sleeping with. But apparently we live in an age where that’s VERY important.

    Posted on Wednesday, July 25, 2012 at 4:32pm
  16. thank you. no one expects heteros to “come out”. everyone deserves THE RIGHT TO PRIVACY.

    Posted on Wednesday, July 25, 2012 at 5:03pm
  17. NO! That’s what the GAY COMMUNITY SEEMS TO DO BEST! WHINE because they don’t get their way, because you don’t fit their niche because we don’t have a place of our own to be comfortable in out in the public eye, for sooooooooooooo many reasons. I hear it every day and frankly I’m tired of it. for being a community we can NEVER seem to come together on any issue. If we were smart we would come together on issues and vote in blocks and maybe just maybe we’d accomplish something. Gay males are the worse offenders. they talk about equality and not bashing etc… but are the ones who do it so often. you’re too fat, too ugly, too much of a queen, too much or not enough of something else. we have the largest bunch of discriminators right in our own COMMUNITY why would we ever have to go anywhere else ? Like Rodney King said once” can’t we all just get along” ?

    Posted on Wednesday, July 25, 2012 at 5:32pm
  18. She didn’t try to hide it or come out against it like some celebs do so I am happy she got to spend her time with the one she loved!

    Posted on Wednesday, July 25, 2012 at 6:29pm
  19. She was the first woman in space…and she was a lesbian! I think that’s GREAT!!!

    Posted on Wednesday, July 25, 2012 at 6:50pm
  20. I’m with you, jennofer! She was a great person…coming out is not done to please others, even a community. One comes out when its time..sometimes never.

    Posted on Wednesday, July 25, 2012 at 7:56pm
  21. After all is said and done I feel she was a coward for not Outing herself prior to her death … Think of how many young gay girls and boys would have seen her and said I am just like her !! Like too many she chose to hide to advance her position in life not having a care about the young gays who suffer thinking they are alone … For God Sake …. Have courage … Come Out !!

    Posted on Wednesday, July 25, 2012 at 8:56pm
  22. She was NOT the first woman in space.

    Posted on Wednesday, July 25, 2012 at 8:57pm
  23. I met her one day…she was teaching kids….I remember her for that. I am glad she is family.

    Posted on Wednesday, July 25, 2012 at 9:12pm
  24. Denied survivors benifits. Really??? Role model. Citizen and gay. So what.

    Posted on Wednesday, July 25, 2012 at 9:43pm