Just how much do you know about those you idolized as a child? What did you think you knew about them then? What do you think you know about them now? Has your perception of this person changed over time?
What drew you to them in the first place? Common interest? Their amazing good looks?
I ran across her obituary as I was writing this, I had never read it before. Sally Ride's sister, Bear, cites her as a hero. That may be an exaggeration in real-world terms but to a young girl in the 80s, she was pretty darn cool.
It turns out that my hero was a lesbian - old news, I know - but what has gotten me thinking is that nearly all my childhood female role models are gay. Sally Ride's being gay does not have and never will directly have an impact on my life.
My question is this: if being homosexual is a choice for everyone, how is it that nearly every single role model I had as a child is gay? I grew up in Indiana in the 80s. I vaguely knew what gay meant, but having been raised in a religious family, I told myself that being gay was not an option.
Yet, those who I have since learned are queer stand out more in my childhood memory than any others. Why, you might ask. :I don't honestly know. It's not discrimination. I really don't care about who anyone sleeps with. I just remember feeling some kind of gravitational pull towards these women without understanding why. It wasn't about sex, I was just a kid, but I somehow knew there was a common denominator.
Twenty years later, I understand. At a very young age, I already knew who I was, and thanks to these women, I dared to keep true to myself.
So, Sally, even though my only contact with you was a photo my father managed to have NASA send me, my heart is with your memory and your partner.
Times are changing and soon there will no longer be posthumous "outings" about those we choose to spend our life with.