Actress Kristy McNichol Comes Out

Emmy-winning sitcom actress Kristy McNichol came out as a lesbian to People magazine last week.  According to her publicist Jeff Ballard, she decided that doing so could "help kids that need support."

McNichol is best known for her roles on the 70s comedy Family and the late 80s Golden Girls spin-off, Empty Nest, as well as the 1980 teen summer camp movie, Little Darlings.  The 49-year-old actress largely left the public eye following Empty Nest, and instead settled into a quieter life with her partner (of now two decades) Martie Allen.  According to her publicist, "she enjoys living a very private life."

The actress is one of a growing number of celebrities, including actor Zachary Quinto, who have cited bullying and at-risk youth as part of their reason for coming out publicly.  As Nichol's rep told People, "She would like to help others who feel different."