Meredith Baxter Talks About Coming Out at NCLR Event
On May 17, during the Anniversary Celebration for the National Center for Lesbian Rights in San Francisco, TV icon Meredith Baxter spoke at length about coming out as a lesbian, in an interview with Jeff 4 Justice.
"It was the time in my life when I thought I did not want to live.... closeted. My friends and family all knew, but the work industry did not know, and I didn’t like keeping it a secret. I didn’t want to hide, it was too hard," said Baxter, talking about her decision to come out as lesbian.
More than 1,500 guests attended the event. Baxter, known for her work on classic sitcoms like "Family Ties," "The Faculty" and "Cold Case," received the Voice and Visibility Award for her help raising the profile of the LGBT community. Since coming out in 2009, she has been an outspoken advocate for gay rights.
She spoke about those people who still couldn’t come out, and said that it was for these people that she continued to work with NCLR, "because they are very actively trying to create a more welcoming and safe political landscape for the entire LGBT community."
When asked why she waited so long to come out, Baxter said that she wasn’t denying her lesbianism, but was not denying her true self, but was rather "un self-examined. I liken it to being at sea; I was confused and unhappy for a major portion of my life."
Baxter, 66, and her partner contractor Nancy Locke, got married on Dec. 8, 2013, in Los Angeles. The two had been dating for seven years. This is Baxter’s fourth marriage; her exes include David Birney, and she has five children.
Jeff asked Baxter about her role as an iconic TV mom, and whether she would have ever anticipated the day when viewers would see positive depictions of LGBTs on TV.
"It is very exciting because the more that we can present to the TV-watching public --- characters who are gay and lesbian and it doesn’t matter it’s incidental, a plot point -- and you get to see that they’re having difficulties with a child at school, marital problems, work problems, just like we do, that we want the same things, that the differences are not there, I think it’s a great boon."
She added she thought this was the secret behind the success of shows like "Will & Grace" and "Modern Family."
Baxter shared a few words of inspiration for those still in the closet, saying, "It’s not what you think it’s going to be. Trust that people are more loving and accepting than you think they are. I was terrified beyond words to come out, but as soon as it was done, Nancy and I walked out into a cold winter rain and I felt unburdened. My shoulders just dropped; I had no idea the aspects of my life that had been affected by my trying to stay small, out of the limelight."
Baxter advised not to come out before you’re ready, but to do it when you feel comfortable.
For more information about Baxter’s work with the NCLR, visit http://www.nclrights.org/NCLR-Anniversary-Celebration/