On December 2, beloved TV mom, breast cancer advocate and Emmy-nominated actress Meredith Baxter went on the Today Show and revealed to Matt Lauer and his audience that she is a lesbian.
“I am a lesbian, and it was a later-in-life recognition of that fact,” she said, later adding, “I got involved with someone I never expected to get involved with, and it was that kind of awakening, and I never fought it because it was like ‘Oh, …I understand why I had the issues I had early on in my life.’”
Best-known for her role as Elyse Keaton on the ‘80s series Family Ties, Baxter has been married and divorced three times and had five children before she started dating women seven years ago. She has been in a committed relationship for four years with Nancy Locke, a contractor who also lives in Los Angeles.
Baxter, who said that she never intended to come out as publicly as she did, was visibly uncomfortable throughout the segment.
“I have to admit to a certain level of anxiety. I am a private person, I’ve always lived a private life, and to come out and disclose stuff is really antithetical to who I am,” she said. She explained that a threat from a tabloid made her determined to be the first to share her story in her own words.
Baxter told Lauer that she and her partner live very out lives in L.A. and that she has received plenty of “immediate and unqualified” support from her family. She also said that she hopes that her story inspires Family Ties fans to be more aware of and sympathetic to LGBT rights issues.
“If you knew me before,” she appealed, “and you cared about me before, I’m the same woman. I’m the same mother to all these children.”