The American Astronomical Society held their winter meeting last week in Long Beach. I was there with roughly 2,400 of my fellow astronomers. As usual I caught up with the handful of openly gay astronomers many whom I have known since graduate school. Then on Wednesday, a friend introduced me to an aspiring astronomer, who in his forties has decided to go back to school in physics to fulfill his dream. Openly gay for over 20 years, he suddenly found himself thrown in with 20-somethings students and is seriously wondering whether he can be gay and have a career in the sciences. At first I was stunned by the question. Wasn’t he just talking to three gay men about his own age who had careers in the sciences? Which brought to mind a recent article in Nature by Jenny Kurzweil, “Shattering the Glass Closet”.
Of course the “Out List” of gay astronomers has been around for a long time together with the National Organization of Gay and Lesbian Scientists and Technical Professionals.
So what do you think? Have we lost our visibility through assimilation? Would you recommend a young, bright gay or lesbian student to go into the sciences?