WBEZ | astronaut http://www.wbez.org/tags/astronaut Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Sally Ride comes out, posthumously http://www.wbez.org/blogs/achy-obejas/2012-07/sally-ride-comes-out-posthumously-101131 <p><p>Most&nbsp;<a href="http://www.npr.org/blogs/thetwo-way/2012/07/23/157250870/sally-ride-first-american-woman-in-space-is-dead">news organizations</a>&nbsp;treated the death of Sally Ride pretty straightforwardly on Monday. They noted her historic role as the first American woman in space. A few also pointed out that she was America&rsquo;s youngest astronaut.<br /><br /><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/AP830616024.jpg" style="height: 368px; width: 310px; float: left; " title="Astronaut Sally Ride (AP/file)" />And they almost all mentioned her post-NASA work as a professor and as founder of Sally Ride Science, a company that promotes interest in science among kids, but especially girls.<br /><br />And just about everyone &mdash; even&nbsp;<a href="http://www.foxnews.com/scitech/2012/07/23/america-first-female-astronaut-sally-ride-dies/">Fox</a>&nbsp;News&nbsp;&mdash;&nbsp;mentioned in the last few lines of their stories that Ride was survived by &ldquo;Tam O&rsquo;Shaughnessy, her partner of 27 years.&rdquo;<br /><br />Progress, right? I mean, here was an extraordinary person&nbsp;&mdash;&nbsp;someone who&rsquo;d actually made history, not just notched notable achievements&nbsp;&mdash;&nbsp;whose same sex relationship was being treated in the same ho-hum, matter of fact way as that of any other celebrity.<br /><br />Except for two things: It was actually&nbsp;<em>news</em>&nbsp;in itself that Ride had a same sex partner, which almost every obit failed to note, and nearly every story I read did not include O&rsquo;Shaughnessy other than in the survivor listing. (Some, like the&nbsp;<a href="http://www.nasa.gov/topics/people/features/ride.html">NASA story</a>, avoided the subject altogether by not even listing survivors.)<br /><br />No story was more awkward than the&nbsp;<em><a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2012/07/24/science/space/sally-ride-trailblazing-astronaut-dies-at-61.html?_r=1&amp;pagewanted=all">New York Times</a></em>, which mentioned that Ride and her former astronaut husband, Steve Hawley, had decorated their bedroom with pictures of the moon 30 years ago but not, for example, that she and O&rsquo;Shaughnessey had in the last few years co-authored several science books, including <em>Mission: Planet Earth: Our World and Its Climate</em>&nbsp;&mdash;&nbsp;<em>and How Humans Are Changing Them</em>&nbsp;and <em>Voyager: An Adventure to the Edge of the Solar System</em>.<br /><br />The&nbsp;<a href="http://www.boston.com/news/nation/articles/2012/07/23/sally_ride_first_us_woman_in_space_dies_at_61/?page=1">Boston <em>Globe</em></a>, though, came in a close second. It mentioned Ride&rsquo;s books, but again neglected to note O&rsquo;Shaughnessy&rsquo;s co-authorship. What was particularly striking was that it reached back more than 27 years for a quote from Hawley but, like the others, relegated O&rsquo;Shaughnessy to the survivors list.<br /><br />This kind of skittish treatment of O&rsquo;Shaugnessy provoked a different kind of story: The one focused not on Ride&rsquo;s life, but on her life partner.<br /><em><a href="http://www.ibtimes.com/articles/365992/20120723/tam-shaughnessy-oshaughnessy-sally-ride-lesbian-partner.htm"><br />International Business Times</a></em>&nbsp;ran a story on O&#39;Shaughnessy and said she was by Ride&#39;s side throughout the astronaut&#39;s 17-month battle with cancer. O&#39;Shaughnessy isn&rsquo;t quoted but they do give readers an idea of who Ride&rsquo;s partner was: a scientist, author and former athlete.<br /><em><a href="http://www.advocate.com/society/people/2012/07/23/first-american-woman-space-sally-ride-leaves-behind-partner?page=0,1"><br />The Advocate</a></em>, of course, had the story with a strong gay angle. It revealed, among other things, that Ride and O&rsquo;Shaughnessey had known each other since they were 12-year-old tennis phenoms.&nbsp;<em>The Advocate</em>&nbsp;also features a photo of the two of them at an American Library Association conference, the only one I&rsquo;ve seen so far.<br /><br />And&nbsp;<em><a href="http://thenewcivilrightsmovement.com/sally-ride-first-u-s-woman-in-space-a-lesbian-dies-of-cancer-at-61/news/2012/07/23/44378">The New Civil Rights Movement</a></em>&nbsp;took the bold step of actually calling Ride a lesbian, which set off reader comments.<br /><br />Best story on the same sex angle?&nbsp;<a href="http://www.buzzfeed.com/chrisgeidner/first-female-us-astronaut-sally-ride-comes-out">Buzzfeed</a>, hands down. They got an interview with Ride&rsquo;s gay sister, Bear (not making that up), that so far appears exclusive. Bear Ride is probably a bit too enthusiastic about her sister&rsquo;s posthumous coming out, but her story is the only one that gives us an idea of what Sally Ride&rsquo;s relationship was like with O&rsquo;Shaughnessy for nearly half her life.<br /><br />Perhaps, though, Ride&rsquo;s mainstream obits might have told a fuller story by simply treating O&rsquo;Shaughnessy in the same way they would any other accomplished long-term spouse: by identifying her before the last graph, by briefly acknowledging her achievements, and perhaps getting a quote or two from her&nbsp;&mdash;&nbsp;not just from her ex-husband of a zillion years ago.</p></p> Tue, 24 Jul 2012 08:52:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/achy-obejas/2012-07/sally-ride-comes-out-posthumously-101131