Kristy McNichol, the 1970′s child actress who won two Emmy Awards for her role as the tom-boyish Buddy Lawrence in the acclaimed ABC television drama “Family,” and who later starred in NBC’s “Empty Nest,” has come out as lesbian.
McNichol, 49, who has lived with her partner Martie Allen, also 49, for the past two decades, said she decided to reveal her sexual orientation because she is “approaching 50″ and wants to “be open about who I am,” reported People magazine.
McNichol said that by coming out, she hopes to inspire children who are dealing with bullies.
She “is very sad about kids being bullied,” her publicist, Jeff Ballard, told People. “She hopes that coming out can help kids who need support. She would like to help others who feel different.”
McNichol has also starred in several films, including “Little Darlings” in 1980 with Tatum O’Neal.
In 1992, McNichol was diagnosed with bipolar disorder, and subsequently ended her television career.
“She is very happy and healthy,” Ballard said. “And she enjoys living a very private life.”