Best known for her work on the comedy Family Ties actress Meredith Baxter came out this morning on The Today Show. On Family Ties, Baxter played Elyse Keaton, the loveable mother of Michael J. Fox and was apart of the iconic TV moms that shaped American culture in the 1980s.
Her decision to share her sexual orientation with the world is a signal of how important it is that people hear the stories of lesbian women’s lives. Stories like Baxters are becoming more widely known. A 2009 article in O Magazine featured women who were previously married and raising a family who come out later in life. Showtime’s The L Word developed a similar storyline in their fourth season with Cybill Shepherd. Cybill Shepherd played The L Word’s heterosexual executive vice-chancellor Phyllis Kroll. In an interview with Metro Weekly when asked about her character and her characters sexual orientation, Shepherd shared that Kroll’s two kids had gone off at college and with an empty house she found alone time in ways she hadn’t before; an empty nest feeling that Shepherd herself had experienced. Kroll found that despite a loving husband and two great kids she was unfulfilled and had just been going through the motions until she came to the realization that she was in fact gay. Shepherd explains, “You become center stage again and that is an opportunity to say ‘Well, what am I going to do with the rest of my life?’ I can absolutely understand that a woman could look at her life and go, ‘Wait a minute -- I've gone through all the motions of being fulfilled but I don't feel that way. And I believe I'm a lesbian.’” Recently, Baxter made a brief appearance on Family Guy and on the Fox comedy, Brothers. We hope that as she continues to tell her story, people come to understand the experiences of women who at long last, find fulfillment by living openly and honestly. For pictures of the happy couple check out Perez Hilton.