Okay, so this post will prolly only really speak to those of you who grew up in the late 70s/early 80s but I used to be a BIG fan of Kristy McNichol and her coming out as gay is just really fantastic news to me. Some of you younger folks may know McNichol from her role as Barbara Weston in Empty Nest (a character that was originated on The Golden Girls) but those of you who remember the 80’s well may remember that Kristy was a fairly big teen star back in the day (she worked primarily on TV — The Bionic Woman, The Love Boat, Family — but she also starred in the film Little Darlings). It’s safe to say that Kristy was one of those young actresses that guys would pin posters of on their bedroom walls … particularly because of her cute tomboy look. To be honest, news of her coming out isn’t really a surprise to me … but I am very happy that she is finally comfortable being open about who she really is.
Kristy McNichol has been out of the public eye for 20 years. Now she’s chosen to come out – to try to help kids who are being bullied. McNichol, 49, who has lived with her partner Martie Allen, also 49, for the past two decades, decided to make a statement about her sexuality and share this photo because she is “approaching 50″ and wants to “be open about who I am.” She “is very sad about kids being bullied,” her publicist Jeff Ballard tells PEOPLE. “She hopes that coming out can help kids who need support. She would like to help others who feel different.” Best known for her Emmy Award-winning role as Buddy Lawrence in the ’70s show Family and later as Barbara Weston in Empty Nest, McNichol left it all behind when she dropped out of Hollywood to focus on her health. Done with acting, McNichol spends her time focusing on tennis, yoga, travel and raising her beloved miniature dachshunds. “She is very happy and healthy,” says Ballard. “And she enjoys living a very private life.”
Some people may take issue with the fact that it took this long for Kristy McNichol to come out as gay but I say there is never the wrong time to come out. Let’s be real, if she had been open and honest about her sexuality back in the 80’s, she’d never have had career … at all. It may sound “easy” for someone to come out now that they are no longer working in Hollywood but I can tell you — there is nothing “easy” about coming out at all … ever. It sounds like Kristy and her partner of 20 years Martie Allen have lived a very happy life together and I couldn’t be more thrilled for the both of them. It is my hope that any closeted gay young stars out there today won’t wait 20 years to come out of the closet … because I hope, one day soon, our society will see sexuality as a completely non-issue. Until that day comes, young gays (famous or not) will continue to hide and live in fear … but hopefully, coming out stories like Kristy McNichol’s will serve as strength and inspiration to brave young gays looking for that extra encouragement to come out.