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Obama to honour gay civil rights leader and lesbian astronaut

Bayard Rustin and Sally Ride to be awarded Medal of Freedom posthumously

Openly gay activist Bayard Rustin was an advisor to Martin Luther King, Jr. Credit: Wikipedia Commons

A gay civil rights leader and a lesbian astronaut will be awarded the Medal of Freedom posthumously by President Barack Obama, the White House announced Aug 8.

Bayard Rustin was a freedom rider, an advisor to Martin Luther King Jr, a pacifist, and an openly gay black activist. He died in 1987.

Sally Ride was the United States’ first female astronaut, and its youngest. She was also a science educator and wrote six children’s science books with her partner, Tam O’Shaughnessy.

Ride was protective of her private life, but her sexuality was revealed after her death in 2012, according to her wishes. She is the first known lesbian astronaut.

Other inductees to the Medal of Freedom this year include former president Bill Clinton, women’s rights activist Gloria Steinem, and broadcaster Oprah Winfrey.