Sally Ride, America’s First Woman and First Lesbian in Space, Passes Away
By Alex Cranz
I was born at the end of America’s fascination with space. One of my earliest memories is sitting on the back porch watching the space shuttle launch on television and then watching it go up in flames. I was still too young to realize I’d just witnessed the Challenger disaster and instead I only felt a passion and wonder for where those people were headed.
The Right Stuff played on repeat at my house until the early 90s and my favorite book was a big grey picture book full of high-resolution shots of the moon.
When my family first made the then six-hour trip down to NASA I was on fire. Desperate to see the machines and women and men who took us to a place beyond our own atmosphere.
Sally Ride and John Glenn were my heroes back then and both still are today. These brave people were willing to be strapped to a bomb in the hopes it would take them into space. There was no safety net. No do over. It was do or die and besides being a physically and emotionally demanding job being an astronaut requires having extraordinary faith in your fellow man. Believing that everyone around you is willing to do their very best to achieve what many millennia of women and men before them could not.
Eighteen days after I was born in 1983 Sally Ride become the first American woman and, retroactively, the first lesbian to travel beyond Earth’s atmosphere. She was chosen based on her merits: her ingenuity, her resilience and her brilliance.
She leaves behind her partner Dr. Tam E. O’Shaughnessy, her childhood friend and a fellow scientist. And she leaves us with her indelible mark. She paved the way for little girls like myself, she braved Washington bureaucracy as she investigated both the Columbia and Challenger disasters and she left us with one hell of a story.