Astronaut Dr. Sally Ride will be the first LGBTQI person to appear on U.S. currency, as part of the US Mint’s American Women Quarters Program.

According to the United States Mint, the first five coins in its American Women Quarters Program will feature Ride, Maya Angelou, Wilma Mankiller, Nina Otero-Warren, and Anna May Wong.

The trailblazing astronaut will feature on a quarter which will depict Ride next to a window on the space shuttle. The image is inspired by Ride’s quote where she said “when I wasn’t working, I was usually at a window looking down at Earth.”

The quarter will come into circulation in 2022 and will continue through to 2025.

“The inscription “E PLURIBUS UNUM” is intentionally positioned over the Earth next to America, indicating that out of all women in the United States, Dr. Ride was the first into space,” US Mint said.

“These inspiring coin designs tell the stories of five extraordinary women whose contributions are indelibly etched in American culture. Generations to come will look at coins bearing these designs and be reminded of what can be accomplished with vision, determination and a desire to improve opportunities for all,” ,” said United States Mint Acting Director Alison L. Doone.

First American Woman To Fly In Space

Born in California in 1951 Ride had always had an interest in science, graduating from Stanford with a Masters in Physics. When NASA began recruiting women in 1977 Ride, who was still a student at the time, applied for the astronaut program and was one of six women to be selected.

Ride also had a career as a tennis player and was a nationally ranked tennis player for a brief period of time in the late 60s.

On June 18, 1983, Sally Ride became the first American woman to fly in space, flying aboard the Space Shuttle Challenger. She would fly on the same shuttle the following year.

After the Challenger exploded and killed seven astronauts in 1986, Ride retired as an astronaut, but still worked with NASA in a consulting capacity. In that same year she divorced her husband and fellow astronaut Steven Hawley. 

Posthumous Coming Out

Tam O’Shaughnessy (left) and Sally Ride (right) were partners for around 27 years, up until Sally’s death in 2012.

In 2001, Ride started the company Sally Ride Science in 2001, aiming to reduce the gender gap in STEM. She continued to help young girls in STEM up until her death in 2012.

It was revealed during Rides obituary that she was in a long term relationship with female tennis player Tam O’Shaughnessy who co-founded Rides education program.

Rides sister and openly gay Presbyterian minister Bear Ride told NBC News that her sister was the type of person to suppress her feelings and keep quiet about her personal life.

“She wanted to get the job done. Her personal feelings were just that: personal. Not right or wrong — simply Sally. Everyone who knows her well really got that about her,” the Presbytarian minister said.

Sally Ride and Tam O’Shaughnessy.

“I’m a rather out-there advocate for LGBT rights — my partner and I have even been arrested a couple of times in public protest. But that’s me, and not Sally.”

“Sally lived her life to the fullest with boundless energy, curiosity, intelligence, passion, joy, and love. Her integrity was absolute; her spirit was immeasurable; her approach to life was fearless. Sally died the same way she lived: without fear.  Sally’s signature statement was ‘Reach for the Stars.’ Surely she did this, and she blazed a trail for all the rest of us.”


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