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LOS ANGELES Friday, May 22nd 2015 1:29

ONE MOTHER'S PERSPECTIVE

  • WHO WE ARE-Women did it again. The annual Memorial Day tradition of placing flowers on graves of fallen soldiers was begun by women in the South after the Civil War. Who knew? Who now remembers that it was originally Decoration Day? Or that it is a day to decorate the graves of soldiers who fought for a better future. Memorial Day is a great deal…
  • 453 Days Later...

    Tom Rubin
    OFFENSIVE BUT PROTECTED SPEECH-Welcome news this week from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit. By a vote of 11 to 1, the court overturned its injunction against the controversial video called "Innocence of Muslims" that it had ordered off YouTube back in February 2014. Here's the background. Actress Cindy Lee Garcia (photo below) was…
  • What LA Educators Should Learn From Bell Gardens High School’s Shocking Turnaround

    Jay Mathews
    VOICES FROM THE SQUARE-Bell Gardens High School in east Los Angeles County was a sorry mess when science teacher Liz Lowe arrived in 1989. It was overflowing with trailer classrooms and graffiti. More than 3,000 students crowded into school buildings surrounding a concrete quadrangle with patches of grass and some trees. Expectations were low. Not…
  • The Clean Sweep Election Finally Happened

    Bob Gelfand
    GELFAND’S WORLD- A few years ago, a group calling itself Clean Sweep argued that the voters of Los Angeles should defeat all the incumbents and replace them with fresh blood. On Tuesday, the results came close. There are two distinct lessons, one of which is quite ominous for elected officials. This election demonstrated the end of voter patience…
  • What Did Tuesday’s LAUSD Election Results Prove?

    Paul Hatfield
    PERSPECTIVE-Did the LAUSD election results signal a change for charter schools? Perhaps. Possibly. Maybe. You can make a decent case that Ref Rodriguez’s victory in District 5 points to strong support for charters. It was a battle between two well-funded candidates with diametrically opposed views on the issue. The effectiveness and fairness of…
  • (Train)ing Ourselves to Confront Modern Mass Transit

    Ken Alpern
    GETTING THERE FROM HERE-It's great to learn that Metro has an excellent new CEO with the hiring of Phillip A. Washington who comes to us from Denver. Following in the footsteps of his predecessors, Roger Snoble and Art Leahy, Mr. Washington has a first-rate reputation to maintain--but his first job will be to pass Measure R-2. Measure R-2 (perhaps…
  • City Controller’s Grandstanding DWP Audit is the Real Waste of Ratepayer Dollars

    Dennis Zine
    JUST THE FACTS-City Controller Ron Galperin’s Grandstanding DWP Audit results were finally released. Unfortunately, the conclusion and political spin that came afterwards from the controller was misleading. Here are the FACTS: The DWP’s Joint Training Institute and Joint Safety Institute are administered by DWP managers and representatives of the…
  • A Place Where ‘Special Interest’ is NOT a Dirty Word

    Denyse Selesnick
    MY TURN-We need to have a new word to differentiate the villainous “Special Interest” that everyone is always complaining about and the “Special Interest” that almost all of politicians and civic and social activists have adopted as a cause. It is impossible to have passion about multiple issues. I know I have mentioned this before, but it seems…
  • Alert! America’s Small Businesses are Being Screwed by Big Business

    Robert Reich
    THE ECONOMY-Can it be that America’s small businesses are finally waking up to the fact they’re being screwed by big businesses? For years, small-business groups such as the National Federation of Independent Businesses have lined up behind big businesses lobbies. (Photo: small businesses in Studio City) They’ve contributed to the same Republican…

 

  • Can Strawberries Help Fight Cancer?

    Christian Cristiano
    WELLNESS-There have been a number of studies over the years that could show evidence of strawberries fighting off cancer. Tong Chen lead a study…
  • Study: The Best Way to Quit Smoking … Bet On It

    Francie Diep
    WELLNESS-Oftentimes, money speaks louder than words. Apparently, that aphorism applies to cigarettes too. A new study finds that money incentives…
  • Exercise Can Help Anxiety … Here’s How

    Christian Cristiano
    WELLNESS-Statistics show that over 3 million American adults suffer from anxiety and there is no evidence that number will be declining any time…




Memorial Day 2015- Freedom Isn’t Free

J. Cole raps on the Letterman show: “Be Free’

The Star Spangled Banner … like you’ve never heard it before

 

 

 

 

  

 

 

 

America’s First Woman In Space was a Lesbian

GUEST WORDS - That wasn't too hard, was it?

But it takes a long time into the NYT obit of Sally Ride for readers to realize that the first American woman in space was a lesbian, and, even then, you have to be alert. Maybe this could have tipped them off:

Dr. Ride was known for guarding her privacy. She rejected most offers for product endorsements, memoirs and movies, and her reticence lasted to the end. At her request, NASA kept her illness secret.

In 1983, writing in The Washington Post, Susan Okie, a journalist and longtime friend, described Dr. Ride as elusive and enigmatic, protective of her emotions. “During college and graduate school,” Dr. Okie wrote, “I had to interrogate her to find out what was happening in her personal life.”

Now talk about a buried lead! The only thing preventing the NYT from writing an honest obit is homophobia. They may not realize it; they may not mean it; but it is absolutely clear from the obit that Ride's sexual orientation was obviously central to her life. And her "partner" (ghastly word) and their relationship is recorded only perfunctorily.

The NYT does not routinely only mention someone's spouse in the survivors section. When you have lived with someone for 27 years, some account of that relationship is surely central to that person's life. To excise it completely is an act of obliteration. I'm afraid the Beast's tribute is worse. Lynn Sherr manages to write an appreciation which essentially treats Ride as a heterosexual. When Sherr writes this ...

In technological terms, NASA was pushing ahead toward the 21st century. But in human terms, it had finally entered the 20th. And it could not have picked a better pioneer.

... she is referring to Ride's gender, not her sexual orientation. And one often over-looked aspect of this is the long-standing discomfort of some in the feminist movement with lesbians in their midst.

Feminists often "inned" lesbian pioneers, or the lesbians closeted themselves. This was not because they were in a reactionary movement; it was because they were in a progressive movement that did not want to be "tarred" with the lesbian image. (Think of Bayard Rustin for a gay male equivalent).

Now, of course, Ride chose the closet throughout her life. Given who she was, how independent and brilliant, brave and cool, this is surely testament to how deep homophobia ran in American life. But it may also, as one reader suggests, be part of a welcome shift:

We only know O'Shaugnessy is a female from that vague abstraction - "partner" - and from a parenthetical statement that Ms. O'Shaugnessy was the CEO of the late Ride's company. I have no idea if Ride was out to her friends or out to the public.

But this could be another replication of the Anderson Cooper phenomenon - a movement towards a gay equality where people can come out on their own terms, without making what they perceive to be a big deal out of it.

Hopefully we're getting to the point where being gay is an utterly unremarkable fact in a great American life.

Another:

I don't always keep up with the latest on who has come out openly, but this certainly came as a surprise to me.

I guess putting this information at the end of the obit is in line with the Times' treatment of sexuality; they certainly would not go out of their way to identify someone as heterosexual other than in listing survivors. That alone shows how far we've come. But are we really in a world where the fact that one of the most respected and pioneering women of the past quarter century was a lesbian is not worthy of mentioning more prominently?

According to the obit, Ride was very concerned with promoting women's opportunities in the sciences. She apparently was not as interested in promoting opportunities, or visibility at least, for gays and lesbians (at least, no such efforts are mentioned), which is a shame.

But assuming that she was not out before her death, I don't think we can judge this as a failing. We all do what we can, and play the role we are most comfortable with. Now that the information is in the open, the LGBT community has another heroine to claim as our own and celebrate posthumously.

I'm not so understanding. We can judge this decision in the context of Ride's life. Her achievements as a woman and as a scientist and as an astronaut and as a brilliant, principled investigator of NASA's screw-ups will always stand, and vastly outshine any flaws. But the truth remains: she had a chance to expand people's horizons and young lesbians' hope and self-esteem, and she chose not to.

She was the absent heroine.

(Andrew Sullivan is a well known writer and blogs at thedailybeast.com where this column was first posted.)
–cw



CityWatch
Vol 10 Issue 60
Pub: July 27, 2012

 

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