Sally Ride‘s sister Bear says the late pioneer, who became the first American woman to enter space, never came forward as a gay woman because of cultural tendencies and her introverted nature.
Ride died at 61 Monday following a nearly-year-and-a-half battle with pancreatic cancer. In an obituary (she had input in) for her organization Sally Ride Science, Sally’s longtime love Tam O’Shaughnessy was credited as “her partner of 27 years.”
Sally’s sister Bear weighed in on the posthumous revelation Wednesday, citing her sister’s “inherent Norwegian reticence” and keep-to-herself mentality as why she never publicly stated she was gay.
“If you read interviews from years and years back, you’ll see that there was always a major frustration that she didn’t comment much on ‘how it feels to be the first American woman in space’ — she just didn’t think that way,” said Bear, who is a gay Presbyterian minister. “She wanted to get the job done. Her personal feelings were just that: personal.
Bear continued, “Not right or wrong: simply Sally. I’m a rather out-there advocate for LGBT rights — my partner and I have even been arrested a couple of times in public protest!
“But that’s me, and not Sally.”