Wednesday, August 8, 2012

A heroine

A bit of news that I missed while traveling is the death of Sally Ride, first woman in space. It was only in her obituary that we learned she was a lesbian with a long term partner. The revelation was wonderfully simple. The obituary listed a partner in the place where it would have listed a husband.

That prompted Andrew Sullivan to lament that she could have been a role model for young lesbians and that she was an "absent heroine."

Jim Burroway disagrees. Wasn't it enough for her to be the first woman in space? A lot of young girls think so. Wasn't it enough she advocated for more women in science and engineering? When she took her first flight in 1983 Burroway was studying engineering. There were more gays in his class than women. And why should Ms. Ride submit to the level of public scrutiny that Mr. Sullivan thinks is appropriate for her?

Timothy Kincaid has a few comments as well. He grew up as a preacher's kid and understands quite well a situation in which others feel they have the right to know everything about your private life. So when is it hypocrisy to be private? When is it appropriate for total strangers, whom you don't trust, to demand details of your life? Is it appropriate to demand details of another's life while being protective of your own secrets?

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