Sally Ride: still inspiring women

Sally Ride died Monday this past Monday. She was the first American woman in space and an advocate for women in the sciences.

Michael Adee, executive director of More Light Presbyterians, writes in The Washington Post:

Sally Ride blazed a path to the stars. Her sister, the Rev. Bear Ride helps us understand the heavens. In Bear’s office, there are two wonderful photos of these amazing sisters. The first one is of Sally in her astronaut suit standing next to Bear in her clerical collar and gown. Sally was the first American woman to travel into space and Bear was part of the early wave of women to be ordained in the Presbyterian Church (USA). I love the delightful humor of the companion photo taken on the same day, years ago: the Ride sisters have exchanged outfits as Sally is now in the clerical collar and gown with Bear in the astronaut suit. I thought of these wonderful photos of two sisters each blazing new trails for women in the world and in the church…

At a time when faith seems at odds with science, mystery takes a back seat to dogma, and fear is trying to drown out hope, the Ride family offers us a way to live together in harmony rather than division….The Ride family illustrates that faith at its best fosters curiosity, compassion, open minds and hearts.

An article by SFGate also picks up on the photographs and quotes Adee:

“For that family, faith and science were not in opposition,” Adee said. “They were in harmony.”

The SFGate article also highlights that Sally Ride is now inspiring the LGBT community as well. Her website biography acknowledges that she is survived by her partner of 27 years.

Sally Ride, her sister said, “was a very private person. Sally had a very fundamental sense of privacy – it was just her nature – because we’re Norwegians, through and through.”

“It’s not as if Sally knew a closet,” Bear Ride wrote. “She was just private – like no one knew about the cancer,” either.

“I hope the pancreatic cancer community is going to be absolutely thrilled that there’s now this advocate that they didn’t know about,” said her sister, a Presbyterian minister who has also been in a longtime relationship with a woman. She said she hopes Sally Ride’s story “makes it easier for kids growing up gay that they know that another one of their heroes was like them.”


“Her coming out in this way makes it even more powerful,” said Fred Sainz, director of communication for the Human Rights Campaign. A photo of Ride blanketed the organization’s website, with one of her quotations: “All adventures, especially into new territory, are scary.”

The fact that Ride was a lesbian “is huge and positive and really inspirational,” said Herndon Graddick, president of the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation.

Now, gay rights advocates say, young gay and lesbian kids can feel even more inspired by Ride’s famous encouragement that children should “reach for the stars.”

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