To the editor:
The discussion surrounding the way America’s pioneering, first woman in space, Sally Ride, opted to come out of the closet at the end of her life by publicly acknowledging her same sex partner of 27 years in the obituary they are said to have written together, has been as public as Sally Ride’s personal life was private.
Andrew Sullivan, a one time conservative, gay blogger and fan of Donald Rumsfeld who’s morphed into a total liberal in recent years, called Sally Ride an “… absent heroine.” That’s because her choice to live life privately, in Sullivan’s opinion, denied young lesbian women a role model and person to whom they could look up.
I think Sullivan was way off base, not to mention totally out of line.
Sally Ride, whether she ever disclosed her lesbianism or not, was a human being all young people, male, female, gay, straight, or whatever, can look up to and consider a role model. She led an exemplary life, was a world class scientist, a successful businesswoman, and, by all accounts, just a really nice person.
But still, Ride’s story makes clear just how difficult deciding when and if to come out of the closet remains for millions of gay and lesbian Americans today.
A recent study commissioned by the Human Rights Campaign, one of the nation’s largest gay rights organizations, found that more than half of gay and lesbian Americans continue to hide their sexual orientation from their employers and coworkers.
Many do so with good reason. In nearly two dozen states, it is still completely legal for an employer to fire a gay employee, or even an employee perceived as gay, and that employee has absolutely no legal recourse.
In several states, parents can still lose custody of, or visitation rights with, their children if their being gay becomes public.
As someone who came out of the closet to family, friends, and coworkers more than three decades ago, I find it almost surreal
This article originally appeared on: http://www.gloucestertimes.com/letters/x1495164182/Letter-Sally-Rides-acknowledgment-speaks-to-gay-fea-rs