Sally Kristen Ride, the first American woman in space, was gay.
Ride, who made history in 1983 as a crew member of the Space Shuttle Challenger, died Monday following a long battle with cancer. The astronaut, educator and author was 61.
According to an official biography/obituary on the website of her company, Sally Ride Science, survivors include Tam O'Shaughnessy, Ride's partner of nearly three decades.
Some may wonder why a person's sexual orientation ought to make news, particularly in death. But the fact that in life, this accomplished, admirable and brave woman apparently did not feel at ease being openly gay says less about her than it does about our world.
Given a political climate in which a fast food purveyor is hailed as a hero for sermonizing against marriage equality, even a posthumous acknowledgment by a bona fide heroine like Sally Ride matters.
Rest in peace, trailblazer.
And thank you.