It's been a busy week for Meredith Baxter, the actress most people remember as Elyse Keaton, the lovable TV mom from the hugely popular 80s sitcom Family Ties. Baxter has been promoting "Untied," a new tell-all memoir that chronicles the actress' journey toward self-acceptance - a journey that led Baxter to come out publicly on NBC's Today show in December 2009. (Click here to see that interview in its entirety.)
Baxter's week began with an interview with Today show host Matt Lauer, the journalist to whom Baxter first disclosed her identity as a lesbian a little more than a year ago. Later in the week the actress was welcomed back to the set of Today, where she spoke with hosts Kathie Lee Gifford & Hoda Kotb.
On Tuesday, Joy Behar welcomed Baxter to the set of her show on HLN.
On Wednesday, as the 25th and final season of her phenomenally successful program drew further to a close, Oprah Winfrey devoted the entire hour of her talk show to Baxter's story. Baxter was joined on the show by three of her children, as well as a surprise special guest: Michael Gross, the actor who played husband Steven Keaton on Family Ties. A touching video message from Family Ties co-star Michael J. Fox was also featured during the show. In the latter segments, Baxter was joined by Nancy, her partner of five years. Perhaps the most moving part of Baxter's Oprah appearance was an at-home video in which she and Nancy discussed how they met and the evolution of their relationship from then until now.
My partner, Matthew & I had the good fortune of sitting in the front row of Oprah's studio audience during the taping of her interview with Meredith Baxter. For me, this was the intersection of a longtime dream come true (to see Oprah in person!) and a great example of the outstanding work we encourage and celebrate here at GLAAD. During a segment that did not make the final cut of Wednesday's Oprah, Baxter recalled her coming out on the Today show. Describing herself as an intensely private person, Baxter said she never really understood why it was so important to come out publicly. During the commercial break that followed, I said something to Meredith that I'll reiterate here: it's so important that people like Meredith come forward and share the truth of who they are. In so doing, not only are they able to live their own lives more authentically, they also increase the visibility of the entire LGBT community. Simply by sharing their stories in the media, people like Meredith Baxter do what we endeavor to accomplish here at GLAAD everyday: promote understanding, increase acceptance and advance equality.
GLAAD congratulates Meredith Baxter on the release of her new book, and we look forward to the good things that are sure to come from the sharing of her story with a national audience. To read an exclusive (to Oprah.com) excerpt of Meredith's new book, "Untied," please click here.)
GLAAD also sends a great big thank you to Oprah! A seven-time winner and a 2011 GLAAD Media Award nominee in the category of Outstanding Talk Show Episode ("Ricky Martin Coming Out as a Gay Man and a New Dad"), The Oprah Winfrey Show has produced more than 120 shows featuring the stories of LGBT people during the show's groundbreaking 25-year run.
For more information on the 22nd Annual GLAAD Media Awards - to take place in New York, Los Angeles and San Francisco - please click here.