Former Family, Empty Nest star Kristy McNichol comes out as lesbian to help bullied kids

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      Former teen star Kristy McNichol has decided to come out of the closet.

      McNichol, who is 49, told People magazine that she came out as a lesbian she's so concerned about kids being bullied that she wants to provide support for those who feel different. She also said that she wants to be open about who she is.

      She has lived with her partner Martie Allen for the past two decades.

      McNichol rose to fame as a teenager, with roles on the TV sitcoms Family (1976-1980), as Letitia "Buddy" Lawrence, and the Golden Girls–spinoff Empty Nest (1988-1995), as Barbara Weston. She won two Emmy Awards for her performance on Family. She also received Golden Globe nominations for Family and her supporting role in the feature film Only When I Laugh.

      She also appeared on other TV shows like ABC Afterschool Specials, The Love Boat, and Starsky and Hutch.

      Her feature film credits include Little Darlings, The End, The Night the Lights Went Out in Georgia, Dream Lover, and The Pirate Movie.

      She left the industry after allegedly struggling with drug problems and being diagnosed with bipolar disorder in 1992.

      McNichol joins a growing list of publicly out lesbian stars and icons, which includes fellow former TV star Meredith Baxter, Cynthia Nixon, Jane Lynch, Ellen Degeneres, Portia de Rossi, Rosie O'Donnell, Wanda Sykes, k.d. lang, Tegan and Sara Quin, and Melissa Etheridge.

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      Jan 9, 2012 at 10:26pm

      I'm sooooo surprised. What's next? The sun comes out as rising in the east.