Sally Ride’s Partner: ‘I Would’ve Married Her In A Heartbeat’
When Tam O’Shaughnessy met Sally Ride, she was 10 years old. She didn’t know it at the time, but Ride would soon become her partner of 27 years.
During an interview with the Windy City Media Group, O’Shaughnessy opened up about her lover, friend and the first female U.S. astronaut to go into space. Ride died of pancreatic cancer in July.
Though Ride never told her family she was gay, it was known, and accepted.
“Sally never hid it from them—you know, I went everywhere with Sally, and she went everywhere with me … in our different careers and with our friends, and for family holidays,” O’Shaughnessy said. “So over the almost three decades, I was really part of the Ride family. And her parents are really smart—especially her mother and her sister—they knew a long time ago that we were a couple. And her mother is very progressive. Sally easily could have told her a long time ago, and Joyce Ride would not have cared, she would not have blinked.”
The two not only lived together, but worked together too at their own business, Sally Ride Science. Not being a completely open gay couple occasionally took a toll on the relationship. O’Shaughnessy spent a lot of time thinking about if others assumed the two were gay, whereas it didn’t cross Ride’s mind nearly as much.
“It’s kind of funny, but a tad stressful at times, too. In hindsight, Sally and I could’ve been open,” O’Shaughnessy said. “We should’ve been open quite a few years ago. Quite frankly, starting our company in 2001—we were just really afraid that our company wouldn’t get off the ground if people knew that the two of us were together. That we wouldn’t get the sponsorships from General Electric, Exxon Mobile, and on and on you go. And I also think the gay movement the last five years has just skyrocketed—I mean it’s just changing so quickly now.
Though O’Shaughnessy never got the chance, she wishes she married Ride.
“I wish I could’ve married Sally, I would’ve married her in a heartbeat,” O’Shaughnessy said. “We were domestic partners the last 12 years.