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LGBT Scientists

National Organization of Gay & Lesbian Scientists & Technical Professionals


LGBT Mathematician Alan Turing

January 2014


After over 60 years, British mathematician, Alan Turning, was finally pardoned by Queen Elizabeth II for the crime of being gay.


Alan Turing was among the most important Britons of the 20th century.  A developer of the modern computer, the renowned mathematician helped shape the future of technology.  He was also a World War II code breaker who helped crack the most impenetrable Nazi tool of secret communications, the famed Enigma code.



None of that seemed to matter, however.  In 1952, Turing was convicted of "gross indecency" for homosexuality, then a crime in England.  As part of his sentence, he was chemically castrated and subjected to estrogen treatments.  Two years later, he committed suicide.  He was 41 years old.


On December 24, 2013, Alan Turing finally received a posthumous royal pardon from Queen Elizabeth II.  Back in 2009, Prime Minister Gordon Brown issued a formal apology on behalf of the nation.


The story of his life is being made into a major motion picture.


(From Eric Dodds, Time Magazine)




CNN: Queen Pardons Alan Turing

BBC History: Alan Turing

Alan Turing: The Enigma

Wikipedia: Alan Turing

IMDB: The Imitation Game

Movie Trailer: The Imitation Game

Wikipedia: The Imitation Game

Book That Inspired the Film: The Enigma

Documentary: Alan Turing the Codebreaker


Astronaut Sally Ride Comes Out Posthumously

July 2012


Pioneering astronaut Sally Ride, died on July 23, 2012 from pancreatic cancer, at the age of 61.   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, 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.




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."  Robinson is 65. Ride was 61 when she died of pancreatic cancer.  "For girls who had an interest in science and wanted to go places women had not been allowed to go, she was a tremendous role model," Robinson said Wednesday. "The fact that she chose to keep her identity as a lesbian private — I honor that choice."  However, Robinson said he had a different standard for younger gays — to the point of insisting that his own clergy in New Hampshire be open about their sexuality if they are gay or lesbian.  "While there is still discrimination and coming out will still have repercussions, the effect of those repercussions are vastly reduced now," Robinson said. "I believe that times have changed."


There's no question that gays and lesbians overall are coming out now at a higher rate and an earlier age than those of previous generations. According to the LGBT Movement Advancement Project, adults aged 30-54 are 16 times more likely to be closeted than those under 30.  Fred Sainz, the Human Rights Campaign's vice president for communications, said his initial reaction to the revelation about Sally Ride was, "What a shame that we didn't learn this while she was alive."   "However, the fact it was acknowledged in death will be an incredibly powerful message to all Americans about the contributions of their LGBT counterparts," Sainz said. "The completeness of her life will be honored correctly."




Presidential Honor to be Awarded

SF Gate: Sally Ride's Posthumous Coming Out
Clarion Ledger: Sally Ride First Lady in Space
EnStarz: Tam O'Shaughnessy Mourns Death of Partner Sally Ride

SheWired: Sally Ride Survived by Lesbian Partner

USA Today: Sally Ride Chose Privacy Over Gay Causes


Remembering Sally Ride

July 2012


Sally Kristen Ride (May 26, 1951 – July 23, 2012) was an American physicist and astronaut.  Ride joined NASA in 1978, and in 1983 became famous as the first American woman to enter space, part of the crew of the space shuttle Challenger.  As of 2012, Ride also remains the youngest American astronaut to be launched into space at the age of 32. In 1987, she left NASA to work at Stanford University's Center for International Security and Arms Control.



Sally Ride, America's first lady in space, will be remembered as a reluctant celebrity who cared deeply about the nation's space program and devoted her post-NASA career to keeping middle-school kids -- especially girls -- hooked on science, math, technology and engineering.  Ride, 61, died after a 17-month battle with pancreatic cancer. Her death came 29 years and a month after she broke a gender barrier by launching into space aboard shuttle Challenger.


She is also remembered as a loving partner to Tam O'Shaughnessy, with her for 27 years.  Ride is survived by her partner of more than two decades, Tam O'Shaughnessy; her mother, Joyce; her sister, Bear; her niece, Caitlin; and nephew, Whitney; as well as her staff of 40 at Sally Ride Science.  O'Shaughnessy, at Ride's side during the astronaut's lengthy battle with pancreatic cancer, co-authored four books with Ride and is a professor emerita of school psychology at San Diego State University, and chief operating officer and executive vice president of Ride's foundation, Sally Ride Science.


In Ride's death, many are asking: Who is Tam O'Shaughnessy? The answer is someone who closely shared Ride's passion for science and space.  According to, O'Shaughnessy "helped found Sally Ride Science because of her long-standing commitment to science education and her recognition of the importance of supporting girls' interests in science. She finds her work with Sally Ride Science irresistible." 


"Ride lived her life to the fullest, with boundless energy, curiosity, intelligence, passion, joy, and love," friends wrote in a statement posted on the website of her business, Sally Ride Science. "Her integrity was absolute; her spirit was immeasurable; her approach to life was fearless."  Ride became a household name when she rocketed into orbit on June 18, 1983. But she never was at ease with fame.  "Sally was a very private person who found herself a very public persona. It was a role in which she was never fully comfortable," said fellow U.S. astronaut Steve Hawley, who was married to Ride from 1982 through 1987.




SF Gate: Sally Ride's Posthumous Coming Out
Clarion Ledger: Sally Ride First Lady in Space
Wikipedia: Sally Ride

Sally Ride Science

Wikipedia: Sally Ride Science

Who Was Tam O'Shaughnessy?

July 2012


Tam O’Shaughnessy was Sally Ride’s partner for 27 years, but their partnership was cut short Monday when Ride — the first American woman in space — died of pancreatic cancer at just 61 years old.  Sally Ride was an American heroine, looked up to by a generation of science lovers ever since she made history by blasting into space on NASA’s shuttle Challenger on June 18, 1983. On that day she became the first American woman in space.  But her longtime partner, Dr. Tam E. O’Shaughnessy, is a very accomplished woman in her own right.



O’Shaughnessy was by Sally Ride’s side throughout the astronaut’s 17-month battle against cancer, and before Ride became ill they co-authored four books, including “Mission: Planet Earth: Our World and Its Climate — and How Humans Are Changing Them” and “Voyager: An Adventure to the Edge of the Solar System.”  O’Shaughnessy, a professor emerita of school psychology at San Diego State University, is also chief operating officer and executive vice president of Sally Ride’s foundation, named Sally Ride Science, where the duo and their staff nurtured young students and worked to encourage them to pursue their passions in science, tech, engineering and math.  Dr. O’Shaughnessy will not receive the benefits due to the spouses of deceased astronauts, because the United States federal government does not recognize same-sex marriage. Nor has she received much mention or recognition for the active role she took in Dr. Ride’s work as the nation mourns.  As we remember Dr. Ride, we also extend our love and sympathy to her loving partner, Tam O’Shaughnessy. Thank you both for all you’ve done.


(From Tumblr Article)




Article: Sally Ride's Partner

Wikipedia: Tam O'Shaughnessy


Famous LGBT Scientists, Researchers, Philosophers, Hostorians

Within the scientific and technical fields, many talented and noteworthy LGBT people can be found.  They are well represented among researchers and professors.  Lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people have made and continue to make great contributions in the fields of physics, astronomy, social and behavioral science, mathematics, medicine, economics, education, philosophy, and more.



Alfred Kinsey  -  Researcher, Father of Sexology (1894-1956)
Magnus Hirschfeld  -  German Physician and Sexologist (1868-1935)
Alan Turing  -  British Mathematician (1912-1954)

Michael Foucault  -  French Philosopher, Sociologist, and Educator (1926-1984)
Deirdre McCloskey  -  American Economist and Economic Historian

Jim Pollack - American Astrophysicist

Martha May Eliot  -  American Pediatrician & Public Health Specialist
Sally Ride  -  American Physicist and Astronaut (1951-2012)

Lynn Conway  -  American Professor of Engineering & Computer Science




Wikipedia: Magnus Hirschfeld
Wikipedia: Alfred Kinsey
Wikipedia: Sally Ride

Wikipedia: Deirdre McCloskey
Wikipedia: Lynn Conway


Transgender Economics Professor

Deirdre McCloskey, an acclaimed professor and former University of Chicago protégé of Milton Friedman, stunned the academic world with a sex change in 1995. But that's just one interesting part of a woman now focused on a more "human" approach to economics.


Deirdre N. McCloskey (born September 11, 1942, Ann Arbor, Michigan) is an American economics professor. Her job title at the University of Illinois at Chicago is Distinguished Professor of Economics, History, English, and Communication. She is also adjunct professor of Philosophy and Classics at UIC, and was for five years the Tinbergen Distinguished Professor of Economics, Philosophy, History, English, and Arts and Culture, at Erasmus University, Rotterdam. Since October 2007 she has received two honorary doctorates.


McCloskey was the first child of the late Robert McCloskey, a professor of government at Harvard University, and the former Helen Stueland, a poet.


She transitioned from male to female in 1995, at the age of 53, a fact recorded in the New York Times Notable Book of the Year, Crossing: A Memoir (1999, University of Chicago Press). McCloskey was married and fathered two children.  She changed her name from Donald to "Dee" to Deirdre.


McCloskey advocates on behalf of the rights of persons and organizations in the LGBT community.


Homepage: Deirdre McCloskey

Wikipedia: Deirdre McCloskey

World Crunch: Transgender Economist Extraordinaire


Transgender Engineer & Computer Scientist

Lynn Conway is Professor of Electrical Engineering & Computer Science, Emerita at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor.  She is known as an engineer, computer scientist, inventor, researcher and educator.  And she is a transgender person.


She also has taken a very active role in raising awareness of the issues of gender identity and the processes of gender transition. She started a project in 2000, as she struggled to "come out" about her past to my research colleagues. She openly tells the story of her gender transition from male to female three decades earlier, in 1968, and then of being outed 31 years later in 1999, while living quietly and successfully in "stealth mode".


She said that since beginning her project, she has come in contact with ever growing numbers of people concerned with gender issues. She has interacted with large numbers of people who are transitioning or who have transitioned. Given the still-remaining social invisibility, ignorance and superstitions about gender conditions, she feels a strong need to provide whatever information, encouragement and hope that she can to help others who are struggling with these issues.



Homepage: Lynn Conway
LGBT History: Lynn Conway

Wikipedia: Lynn Conway


Closeted LGBT Scientists

Many talented lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) scientists feel they must keep their cover to escape overt and covert discrimination. There is still much homophobia and heterosexism in the technical fields. 


While there are many openly gay men and women in the sciences, there are many more that choose to remain in the closet in order to keep their place in the laboratory. We may commonly think of academics as a liberal, open-minded lot, but lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender scientists have had as rocky a road to acceptance in the scientific community as they've had in other segments of society.  Even in modern-day academia, LGBT scientists may feel reluctant to come out even to co-workers or superiors, not knowing whether they'll be met with support or scorn.


These issues are being increasingly talked about and exposed by authors and researchers and in settings like the Out to Innovate Career Summit in 2010 held by the National Organization of Gay and Lesbian Scientists & Technical Professionals (NOGLSTP).



NOGLSTP is an association of scientific and technical professionals who earn their livings in the fields of materials science, biomedical engineering, geography, archeology, neurobiology, meteorology, oceanography, medical technology, physics, electrical engineering, biochemistry, zoology, psychobiology, computer science, epidemiology, microbiology, environmental science, linguistics, chemistry, mechanical engineering, science education, sociology, astronomy, botany, molecular biology, anthropology, law, aerospace engineering, science policy, physiology, ecology, patent law, geology, health professions, mathematics and more.  Their membership includes lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and allies. They advocate equal employment opportunity, professional networking, role modeling, science education, and scientific freedom and responsibility. They practice science, technology, engineering, and mathematics with pride.


In the present day, there are some notable openly queer scientists: geneticist Dean Hamer, formerly the chief of gene structure and regulation at the National Institutes of Health; Canadian biologist Bruce Bagemihl; and British-born neuroscientist Simon LeVay.


NOGLSTP maintains a roster of queer scientists of note.  Included on their list are the following LGBT scientists and researchers:


Sir Francis Bacon – 17th century English philosopher of science

S. Josephine Baker – 20th century physician

Allan Cox – 20th century American Geophysicist

Neil Divine – 20th century American Astrophysicist

Alexander von Humboldt - 19th century Prussian naturalist

Sonja Kovalevsky - 19th century Russian mathematician

Margaret Mead – 20th century American anthropologist and psychologist

Florence Nightingale – 19th century British Nurse

Louise Pearce – 20th century pathologist

Jim Pollack – 20th century American astrophysicist

Alan Turing – 20th century British mathematician

Leonardo da Vinci – 15th century Italian artist, scientist, and engineer

Bruce Voeller – 20th century American biologist and AIDS researcher

Clyde Wahrhaftig - 20th century American Geologist and Environmentalist





Queer Science: Coming Out as an LGBT Scientist
Science Careers: Closeted LGBT Scientists
National Organization of Gay & Lesbian Scientists & Technical Professionals
LGBT Scientists & Engineers Recognized
Queer Science: From Alan Turing to Sally Ride

Coming Out in the Sciences (Part 1)
Coming Out in the Sciences (Part 2)
Alan Turing: Gay Mathematician
Out in Science
NOGLSTP: Queer Scientists of Historical Note



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Association for Lesbian Gay Bisexual & Transgender Issues in Counseling of Alabama