BY DAVID CRARY, AP NATIONAL WRITER
NEW YORK -- Pioneering astronaut Sally Ride, who relished privacy as much as she did adventure, chose an appropriately discreet manner of coming out.
At the end of an obituary that she co-wrote with her partner, Tam O'Shaughnessy, they disclosed to the world their relationship of 27 years. That was it.
As details trickled out after Ride's death on Monday, it became clear that a circle of family, friends and co-workers had long known of the same-sex relationship and embraced it. For many millions of others, who admired Ride as the first American woman in space, it was a revelation - and it sparked a spirited discussion about privacy vs. public candor in regard to sexual orientation.
Some commentators, such as prominent gay blogger Andrew Sullivan of the Daily Beast, second-guessed Ride's decision to opt for privacy.
"She had a chance to expand people's horizons and young lesbians' hope and self-esteem, and she chose not to," he wrote. "She was the absent heroine."
Others were supportive of Ride's choices.
Episcopal Bishop Gene Robinson of New Hampshire, who in 2003 became the first openly gay bishop in the Anglican world, noted that both he and Ride were baby boomers who grew up "in a time when coming out was almost unthinkable."