Pioneering astronaut Sally Ride, who relished privacy, chose an appropriately discreet manner of coming out.

At the end of an obituary that she co-wrote with her same-sex partner, they disclosed to the world their relationship of 27 years.

As details trickled out after Ride's death Monday, it became clear that a circle of family, friends and co-workers had long known of the 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 has sparked a spirited discussion about privacy vs. public candor in regard to sexual orientation.

Some commentators have second-guessed Ride's decision to opt for privacy, saying she could have been a role model for gay youth while alive. Others were supportive.