Kristy McNichol, an actress who came to fame in the late 1970s as one of the stars of the ABC drama Family, has come out publicly as a lesbian.
Now 49, the Emmy winner has been out of the spotlight for much of the past 20 years with her last major role being the NBC sitcom Empty Nest.
According to a People.com story posted Friday (6 January), McNichol decided to come out now because she wants to help kids who are being bullied.
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.'
During the height of her 70s and 80s fame, McNichol successfully transitioned into films starring in such movies as Only When I Laugh opposite Marsha Mason, Little Darlings with Tatum O'Neal, The End with Burt Reynolds and The Pirate Movie.
Her most recent acting credit was a voiceover role in 1998 in the animated series Invasion America.
McNichol has lived with partner Marti Allen, also 49, for two decades.
'She is very happy and healthy,' Ballard says. 'And she enjoys living a very private life.'