After death, Sally Ride reveals she was gay

Wed Jul 25, 2012 1:23pm EDT
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By Irene Klotz

CAPE CANAVERAL, Florida (Reuters) - Sally Ride was the first U.S. woman in space and a role model for women everywhere. But one group had to wait until her death this week to claim her as a member - the gay community.

In a statement prepared before her death on Monday of pancreatic cancer, Ride, 61, acknowledged publicly for the first time that she had a longstanding relationship with a woman, Tam O'Shaughnessy, who was her partner in business, science writing and life.

The astronaut's website, Sally Ride Science, listed O'Shaughnessy, Ride's partner for nearly 30 years, as a survivor.

"Most people did not know that Sally had a wonderfully loving relationship with Tam O'Shaughnessy for 27 years," Ride's sister wrote in a tribute that was posted on

"Sally never hid her relationship with Tam. They were partners, business partners in Sally Ride Science, they wrote books together, and Sally's very close friends, of course, knew of their love for each other," Bear Ride said.

"We consider Tam a member of our family," she said.

Ride flew on the seventh space shuttle mission in 1983, the first time a woman was included as a member of the crew. She made a second flight a year later, then served on the blue-ribbon-panel that investigated the 1986 Challenger disaster.

Ride left the U.S. space agency, NASA, in 1987.   Continued...

Astronaut Sally Ride, mission specialist on STS-7, monitors control panels from the pilot's chair on the Flight Deck of the Space Shuttle Challenger in this NASA handout photo dated June 25, 1983. Floating in front of her is a flight procedures notebook. Ride died July 23, 2012 after a 17-month battle with pancreatic cancer. REUTERS/NASA/Handout