Sally Ride: "Openly Gay"?

You mean aside from Sally Ride Science?

To my mind, you can be openly gay without rubbing everyone’s face in it. If anything, it’s the media making this a big deal, apparently neither she nor her partner ever did.

Dr Ride apparently didn’t publicize the fact that she was gay and, as far as I know, she never made a public announcement. But she was openly living with another woman for twenty-seven years. That has to count as being “openly gay”.

Telling people you are gay is not rubbing anyone’s face in it. If your forcing them to watch your homemade porno’s it might be different.

So what did they mean by saying she “came out in her obituary”?

Doesn’t the term “coming out” mean the beginning of one’s openness?

If every conversation begins with the topics, yes, it is.

It should only be brought up when relevant to the topic at hand, which is rather seldom in ordinary interactions with people outside of your family.

I notice straight people seldomly mention their spouses or wear jewelry indicating their relationship status.

I call people like her, and like Anderson Cooper until recently, silently gay.

Closeted, if only to me, implies they have lied or at least deliberately misled or muddled the issue, and she apparently didn’t do this.

Openly means that her partner was as well known as the spouse or significant other of a straight person of equal visibility would be (i.e. mentioned in bios, her usual Plus1 at functions, etc.). I really don’t know enough about her to know if this was the case, but it doesn’t seem to have been, and in fact could have hurt her career when the relationship began.

Since she wasn’t closeted or open, I would say ‘silently’, which isn’t to imply she was trying to hide it, just wasn’t choosing to publicize it.

I find straight people who natter on and on about being straight just as annoying a gay people who do the same.

Mentioning one’s spouse or wearing a ring isn’t in your face. Mentioning one’s sexual orientation every time one speaks in public is. Clearly, there’s a spectrum here, but I don’t see a need for it to be brought up constantly.

Huh? I didn’t know until yesterday, that’s all. If I’d known sooner, I woulda cheered sooner.

My point.

So what Ms. Ride did in her bedroom was more important to you than what she did outside it.

I would not be surprised if the Westboro Church announces that they are now picketing her funeral.

“God hates space fags!”


I can see your concern. Frankly though I don’t see why you have this concern. Can you provide an example of a gay public figure who ‘rubs every ones face in it’

What stupid rubbish. I loved her already, and had ever since she made history almost 30 years ago. I’m a feminist too, you know.

So what exactly did you mean, “if I’d known sooner, I woulda cheered sooner”?

Yeah, see - this is what began the confusion for me. When I hear someone “came out,” it necessarily implies that person had previously been closeted. Although as we’re discussing it here, I’m seeing a much wider range than a binary in/out. To wit:

Appreciate your thoughtful response, Sampiro, and your point is well-taken. I’m realizing I never thought about this stuff much, but that’s because none of it matters to me. I do appreciate a good semantic debate now and then, but the subject of one’s sexuality has never held my interest as a point of concern.

Johanna has already responded, but I’ll just say in addition I can see a sort of post-fact camaraderie forming from the realization that Dr. Ride accomplished all that she did while dealing with the very personal tribulations of being gay or bi in an . . . unfriendly atmosphere (no pun intended). It’s not that she may be thought of more highly primarily because she was gay, but that provides an element of commonality - something the LGBT community can identify with (and I guess I may have just answered one of my own questions from the OP).

All in all, I think I may have been better off beginning this discussion with a definition of terms. I don’t think the reference to Dr. Ride as “closeted” was correct (or fair).

Too late to edit, but wanted to add:

Also, the term used in the HuffPo piece at the top of this was not “coming out,” but “coming out quietly,” a phrase to which I had not paid close enough attention. In a different article (referencing Anderson Cooper), Michelangelo Signorile explains:

So what we’re seeing here is the codification of Sampiro’s “silently gay” people making a de facto statement, which is not the same thing as someone solidly in the closet suddenly announcing they’re gay. I don’t think that’s a subtle distinction.

Cheered her for being queer as well as awesome. Duh. If you don’t get that LGBT people like to have LGBT heroes, then I guess you just don’t get it. I’m not seeing a problem here.

Sally Ride was/is a badass.

Like in the Anderson Cooper discussion we had a while back, not everyone wants to be an icon of their respective community. Quite frankly, I imagine she had plenty to deal with without adding LGBT icon to her CV. And to me, that’s the advancement we’ve been striving for, right? Live your life as you see fit… no need for proclamations or pressers about your sexual orientation, unless that’s your bag.

I interviewed a lesbian couple for a book a few years ago. They were clear that they didn’t want to be lauded as “brave,” or an icon for the LGBT community. They were just partners and parents. Just not that exciting (except when it came to the story of how they adopted their son) - and that was kind of the point. One’s an artist, one’s an administrator, they’re both moms, and that pretty much takes up all their energy.

I applaud anyone who wants to be identified as a role model for LGBT youth. But it’s a choice. As Sampiro noted, she was fairly silent on her sexual orientation, but didn’t hide it. This makes her 0.000001% cooler in my book. (IOW, it’s not terribly relevant to how I feel about her being amazingly awesome, and it really isn’t anyone’s business but hers and her partner, but it is a neat thing about her.)

Being out isn’t a binary situation. For example, when I first came out, I told my mom first. But I wasn’t out with my friends. So I told my friends. But I wasn’t out with my extended family. So I told my extended family. But I wasn’t out at work. So I came out at work. Then I got a new job, and all of a sudden, I wasn’t out at work any more, and had to do it again. Then I got laid off, and went back to school, where I’m currently not out to anyone, just because it hasn’t really come up yet. In the meantime, I’ve made new friends in my life, and had to come out to each of them.

And so on and so on, probably for the rest of my life. I may not be out in all contexts in which I find myself, but I’m still “out” by any reasonable definition. The fact that Ride never held a press conference to talk about her sexuality doesn’t mean that she wasn’t also out in other contexts that she felt were more important to her than in the mainstream media.