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Astronaut Sally Ride Was Gay, Comes Out in Obituary

By carolyncastiglia |

sally ride, sally ride gay

Pioneer Sally Ride was in a committed lesbian relationship for 27 years.

The world lost pioneer Sally Ride yesterday, the first American female astronaut in space. Ride completed two space missions for NASA and is the only person who worked on investigation teams of both space shuttle accidents. In 2001, she started Sally Ride Science in order to interest women and girls in space research. She died at age 61 after a battle with pancreatic cancer.

Ride lived a very private life despite being such a significant public figure. In fact, it was only in her obituary that it was revealed she was gay. Ride had been in a 27-year committed relationship with Tam O’Shaugnessy, a woman Ride had known since she was 12.

Ride’s sister Bear told BuzzFeed, “We consider Tam a member of the family.” Bear is also gay, and told BuzzFeed she hopes the LGBTQ community “is going to be absolutely thrilled that there’s now this advocate that they didn’t know about,” adding, “I hope it makes it easier for kids growing up gay that they know that another one of their heroes was like them.”

Ride never purposely hid her romantic relationship with her partner, O’Shaugnessy, who was her business partner as well. BuzzFeed reports “O’Shaugnessy is the chief operating officer and executive vice president for Sally Ride Science, as well as an emeritus professor at San Diego State University.” Ride had an academic career at University of California, San Diego.

Human Rights Campaign president Chad Griffin told BuzzFeed, “For many Americans, coming out will be the hardest thing they ever do. While it’s a shame that Americans were not able to experience this aspect of Sally while alive, we should all be proud of the fact that like many LGBT Americans, she proudly served her country, had a committed and loving relationship, and lived a good life.”

NASA photo via CBS News

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About carolyncastiglia



Carolyn Castiglia is a New York-based comedian/writer wowing audiences with her stand-up and freestyle rap. She’s appeared in TONY, The NY Post, The Idiot’s Guide to Jokes and Life & Style. You can find Carolyn’s writing elsewhere online at and The Huffington Post. Read bio and latest posts → Read Carolyn's latest posts →

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2 thoughts on “Astronaut Sally Ride Was Gay, Comes Out in Obituary

  1. CF says:

    I didn’t realize her sexuality was “hidden”. While she was always very professional, she and Tam were a well-known couple, particularly within the LGBT community. Just because she never made a formal announcement to the media doesn’t she was hiding it or in the closet. It’s much like Anderson Cooper – everyone knew he was gay, but there was no reason to publicize it.

    The acceptance of homosexuality, race, ethnicity, gender, etc., shouldn’t be an issue. The differences shouldn’t be highlighted – the commonalities should. Everyone is a person. That’s all the matters. Whether you like men or women, or what color your skin is or what shape your genitals are doesn’t change who you are as a person. That’s what I think people should be striving for.

  2. Linda, T.O.O. says:

    This was hardly a secret. Reminds me of Jodie Foster or Anderson Cooper.

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