Meredith Baxter: "I can be that lesbian you know"

The beloved TV mom tells her own story before the tabloids can

By Kate Harding
December 2, 2009 8:03PM (UTC)
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When I see the name of an '80s celebrity trending on Twitter, I brace myself for the news of a death, so I was happy to learn this morning that Meredith Baxter is alive, well and just gay. Seven years after she began dating women, the 62-year-old "Family Ties" star came out publicly on the "Today" show (video below) for the best possible reason: to stick it to The National Enquirer and Perez Hilton, who've been trying to turn her personal life into a gossip item.

Okay, that's not the best possible reason, just one I admire. Baxter, who's been living a "very out" life in L.A. with her partner of four years, Nancy, gave Matt Lauer an even better reason: "This is a political act, even though that's not what it feels like to me, it just feels like personal exposure, and it's uncomfortable. But my understanding is that so much research has been done that says that, if anybody knows someone who's gay or lesbian, then when they are addressing gay or lesbian issues, political issues that affect their rights, they're less likely to vote against them to take away their rights. So, if you knew me before, and you cared about me before, I'm the same woman, I'm the same mother to all these children. And if I can be that lesbian you know now, then okay..."

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Kate Harding

Kate Harding is the author of Asking For It: The Alarming Rise of Rape Culture--and What We Can Do About It, available from Da Capo Press in August 2015. Previously, she collaborated with Anna Holmes, Amanda Hess, and a cast of thousands on The Book of Jezebel, and with Marianne Kirby on Lessons from the Fat-o-Sphere. You might also remember her as the founding editor of Shapely Prose (2007-2010). Kate's essays have appeared in the anthologies Madonna & Me, Yes Means Yes, Feed Me, and Airmail: Women of Letters. She holds an M.F.A. in fiction from Vermont College of Fine Arts and a B.A. in English from University of Toronto, and is currently at work on a Ph.D. in creative writing from Bath Spa University

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