Yesterday Dr. Sally Ride died. She was the first American woman in space, back in 1983. I was born in 1982, so I basically grew up in a world where women could be NASA astronauts. I was utterly convinced in grade school that I would go to space too. I knew the name Sally Ride before I knew the name of any other astronaut, including Neil Armstrong.
I got prescription eyeglasses in 6th grade, ending that dream – but I still count Dr. Ride as one of the primary inspirations of my childhood. Hearing about her death is really painful for me. I wish that the next generation of girls could grow up in a world where she was still inspiring young women’s dreams.
When I found out that Ride had a female partner it was an additional inspiration to me as a queer identified person. I wish I could have told myself that back when I was about 14, as it would have made a big difference to me then.
Who inspired you in your childhood? Are childhood inspirations different than those who lead us to want to do great things as adults?