Liz Swain 5:30 p.m., Sept. 22
Cosmic Gay Rays?
See? Right there at the outermost edge of the spectrum? Pink!
The July 23 death of La Jolla resident and first American woman in space Sally Ride was the occasion for numerous tributes and remembrances of the many triumphs wrought by the United States's space program. But it was also the occasion of Ride's public coming-out, as her obituary included a reference to her 27-year relationship with a woman, Tam O'Shaughnessy.
Many have hailed the revelation, citing it as one more piece of evidence that members of the LGBTQ community can be productive and even exemplary members of society. But fellow La Jollan and self-taught physicist Lunari Klipse saw evidence of another kind.
"Sally Ride went into space in 1983," noted Klipse. "At the time, she was newly married to fellow astronaut Steven Hawley. Two years later, she began an adulterous romantic affair with Tam O'Shaughnessy. Two years after that, she divorced her husband to be with O'Shaughnessy, who remained Ride's partner until Ride's death from pancreatic cancer. It is only a theory at this point, but I think the facts merit an honest and rigorous scientific inquiry into the possibility that Ms. Ride was turned gay by cosmic radiation while she was in space."
When it was pointed out to Klipse that no male astronaut had ever experienced a similar shift following space travel, the scientist appeared annoyed. "Look, you've seen The Fantastic Four, right? You know what cosmic rays can do. And you know that they affect different people in different ways - Reed Richards got all stretchy, while his wife Sue turned invisible. So no, I'm not suggesting that Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin, and the rest of the astronaut community were turned gay by their time outside the atmosphere. But there are reports that [Apollo 11 astronaut] Michael Collins currently subsists on a diet of live rats which he swallows whole, and that he sheds his skin every six weeks. At the very least, it's worth looking into."
Klipse then went on to suggest that increased exposure to cosmic gay rays, brought on by a thinning of the earth's ozone layer by chlorofluorocarbons, might help to explain the "massive gaying up of the culture in recent years. Glee? Brokeback Mountain? The push for gay marriage? People can't help it, any more than they can help getting sunburned. It's not about morality. It's about science."