The Queer Presence in Space Exploration
Space exploration is known colloquially as the 'last frontier'. Certainly, in terms of LGBTQ participation in the profession it has been slow to accept and promote minority community members. Notable LGBTQ members of this complex and narrow profession hail entirely from the United States.
A good reason for the lack of diversity in the profession is due to the close relationship between space exploration and the military, which has historically marginalized the LGBTQ community.
The most high profile member of the LGBTQ community involved in space exploration has been Sally Ride, the first American female astronaut in space. She was publicly found to be lesbian only after her death.
Our list reveals that the vast majority of community members are female.
There are several initiatives to encourage greater LGBTQ participation and presence in space exploration in the United States. The group OutAstronaut was created by the International Institute for Astronautical Sciences to highlight the contributions of LGBTQ+ members currently working in science and space, and provide grants to promising LGBTQ students currently pursuing professions in space-related fields. In 2016 NASA created the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender and Queer (LGBTQ) Special Emphasis Program to work with agency leadership to identify and address key issues and areas affecting NASA’s LGBTQ employees and allies.
- Christine Bland, space engineer
- Todd Hawley, International Space University
- Leah Lauderback, National Air and Space Intelligence Center
- Anne McClain, astronaut
- Rebecca Oppenheimer, astrophysicist
- James B. Pollack, astrophysicist
- Jason Reimuller, Executive Director of the International Institute of Astronautical Sciences
- Sally Ride, astronaut
- Jane Rigby, astrophysicist, NASA
- Donald Straney, Pacific International Space Center for Exploration Systems (PISCES)
- Chantale Wong, Budget Director, NASA
- LGBTQ Engineers
- LGBTQ Physicists
- The Fascinating World of LGBTQ Astronomers, Astrophysicists, and Cosmologists