Kristy McNichol: I’m a Lesbian


Kristy McNichol, best known for her roles on Family and Empty Nest, has come out of the closet 20 years after leaving acting because she is tired of seeing kids bullied about their sexuality, People reports:

Kristy_mcnicholMcNichol, 49, who has lived with her partner Martie Allen, also 49, for the past two decades, decided to make a statement about her sexuality and share this photo because she is "approaching 50" and wants to "be open about who I am."

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."

(h/t Boy Culture)


  1. alan says

    Most kids today won’t have any idea who she is, but I used to watch her all the time in the 70s and 80s and thru the early 90s during Empty Nest.

  2. Kevin_BGFH says

    Yeah, I, too, was under the impression that she did something like this five or six years ago. Anyway, welcome to the club and here’s your toaster!

  3. topdawg says

    O-M-G! Andy you should put up a warning before you post such SHOCKING news. Seriously though gratz to Kristy for admitting she’s part of the tribe.

  4. says

    Glad she is making a statement, but I knew this when she was on Empty Nest, and I was a kid then. People are so transparent. It’s almost never a surprise anymore.

  5. says

    If people think it’s good to come out for visibility, then it’s good to come out, PERIOD. Would she have had more of an impact coming out at the peak of her fame? Sure, aside from the fact that she was a teenager, lol. But so what, she’s coming out now. No one is saying she deserves a medal for the bravest, most impactful coming-out in history, but it’s not about that. It’s a good thing. I’m happy for her and for her lesbian fans, who you know are absolutely swooning all over again.

  6. JCW says

    I thought she was already out…. At any rate, good for her! Doubtless the pressures of staying closeted made her acting years a nightmare…. it would be good to see her perform again now that she doesn’t have that hanging over her head anymore.

  7. E. Thor Carlson says

    Put me in the “I’m not surprised” category, and the “I thought she came out decades ago” camp. I remember seeing her back in the day at Odyssey II drunk or high in the corner. I guess I assume someone is out if I know about them.
    Anyway, giver her her toaster and let’s move along.

  8. tzwicky says

    Like others, I really, really thought she had come out years ago.

    Meanwhile, as the only guy my age to admit to attending a Jimmy McNichol concert (a smallish gay nightclub was the venue), what about Jimmy?

    Maybe we’re all recalling when he came out as a lesbian. Of course I’d much rather he came as the gay-boi twin to Kristy. I mean, he performed live to his single, in an outfit that mirrored the classic John Travolta look in “Saturday Night Fever.” Yeah, OK, lotsa you guys don’t remember any of that, but it was sorta “hot” at the time in the way only polyester, Rayon and hair gel teamed with a modified Mullet can be. I think he also was wearing 3-inch platform weird-looking shoes.

    So, anyone, any news with Jimmy?

  9. Steve says

    Seems like some newspapers tried to out or a long time ago, but she never said anything.

    Interestingly, Meredith Baxter played her sister

  10. nick says

    Bravo to McNichol-
    loved her since “Family” -back when there was good television on network television- Family had tons of gay folks writing for it, producing it and actual storylines about gay people that didn’t involve interior decorators, beauticians, or pathological psycho-killers. Bravo to her!

  11. Awesome says

    I loved The Pirate Movie with her and Christopher Atkins. One of my very obvious tells growing up!

  12. Mary says

    I’ve always been a big fan of Kristy, although she’d probably think I’m homophobic scum due to my politics. But what is this connection between lesbians and toasters?

    Does anyone remember that about 1979-1980 there was a Kristy McNichol doll (a Barbie doll type?) It actually looked very little like Kristy and much more like Dustin Hoffman in Tootsie. There was also a Marie Osmond doll. I bought both for my little cousin as I was too old for dolls then, but couldn’t figure out how they could get the Marie doll so right and mess up the Kristy doll so much. I mean Kristy looked nothing like the “Tootsie” character.

  13. anon says

    Kids these days probably don’t know how big of a star she was in the 1970’s. Then she disappeared.

  14. Cindy Heidel says

    I saw this picture and though OMG! I think I was at that event and sitting next to Kristy. If I were there, it was the Comedy Awards that George Schlatter put on every year back in the 80’s.
    She was a sweetheart and so was her girl friend.

  15. Chris says

    You would guess by the name alone that Dinah Manoff would be the gay sister from empty next, although I must say, names aside..its not overly shocking.

  16. princely54 says

    The funniest thing about this is that when I was a kid in the 70s I had a total crush on her…I think because she looked like a boy and I could square that in my mind at the time as being as close to getting a boy in public! HAHA! Of course, I dated lesbians all the time in high school until it dawned on me….

  17. Mary says

    Steve, I’m laughing at your comment! Don’t you know that insulting me is Kiwi’s job?

    Werk (whatever he means by that!)

  18. Thank you Kristy says

    I recall clearly that she was outed by a tabloid, and no one denied it; but I suppose her official coming out, on her own terms, had not happened until now. One thing that is kind of sad is that the outing may have forced the end of her acting career. (While I recall that she had some trouble with bipolar disorder, no?)

    I’m delighted that she seems happy and at peace now. Good for her. Welcome out.

    It’s also just the right thing to do for young people.


  19. Brian says

    Really? Didn’t we already know this? I mean, good for her and I’m glad she cares about the bullying epidemic, but I don’t think anyone is surprised.

  20. FunMe says

    All kidding aside, those two 49 year old lesbians look very pretty and hot for their age. Glad to see she is in a happy loving relationship.

  21. GregV says

    Coincidentally, I was just thinking about Kristi McNichol yesterday.
    My boyhood straight male friend had a big crush on her when she did “Little Darlings” (with Tatum O’Neal and fellow gay actress Cynthia Nixon) and I wondered if that childhood friend of mine knows she’s gay.
    Only now do I read that she wasn’t already out. I think like so many other celebrities, it’s one of those things that a lot of gay people know for a decade before mainstream society hears the “announcement.”

    I would love for her to have come out when she was a huge celebrity, but I also know that was impossible, and good for her for coming out now!
    In the late 70’s, she was by far one of the most awarded dramatic supporting actresses (along with Ellen Corby a.k.a. Grandma Walton, whom I also have always thought never could have come out in that pre-Ellen era, if, indeed she was gay.)

    I really welcome the openness of Kristi, and, though I understand she has felt she’s needed to be out of the spotlight for personal reasons, would love to see her being more visible whether in large or small ways.

  22. Paul B. says

    I fell in love with her years ago. Watching her cry, which she does better than anyone else…was heartwrenching. I think she’s a trooper…managed to survive hollywood and still come out of it with a lifelong companion. She’s beautiful…we love you k.

  23. bruce says

    Way to go, Kristy!!! Always loved you. Loved “Family”…
    Admire your honesty, even if some feel it’s a little “late”.
    It’s NEVER too late, people!

  24. JSH says

    I shall rewatch “The Pirate Movie” — one of my favorite “bad movies” ever — on DVD in her honor, but I’ll still be thinking of Christopher Atkins… 😉

  25. classychazy says

    I am so happy for her. She was one of my favoritre actress in the 80′ God bless & wishing her another 20 years of incredible powerful love.

  26. says

    Finally!!! I knew she was ‘just like me’ when I saw her in an ABC After School Special in the early 70’s… a ‘tomboy’, of course 😀

  27. Caliban says

    Well now THERE’S a shocker!

    Next thing I know you’re gonna try and tell me Wayland Flowers of Wayland and Madame was light in the loafers!

    Seriously though, a lot of people grew up watching her on TV and every little bit helps. But it’s not exactly news. Remember the 1980 movie Little Darlings where she and Tatum O’Neal were girls at summer camp competing to see who could lose their virginity (to a guy) first? Even back then people were saying “Kristy McNichol chasing after GUYS?! Please. Suspension of disbelief only goes so far!”

  28. jefflrich says

    Firstly, I’m so happy for Kristy. She’s always been one of my favorite actresses and she is sorely missed on the small and big screen.

    Secondly, the snark of most of the comments here is percisely why most public people hesitate to come out. While Kristy’s coming out might be a “duh” moment for you people, it is not a “duh” moment for her. It is a highly commendable act (at any point in a public person’s career) and deserves respect, not snide, catty comments.

    This woman is a multi-Emmy winner, a Golden Globe winner, and was a true Teen Idol in her day. She gave some great performances during her career (as mentioned by some of you: Summer of my German Soilder, White Dog, and her performances as “Buddy” on Family), and then battled bipolar disease, which ultimately lead to her decision to step out of the spotlight and out of her acting career.

    And it is the fact that Kristy has, by choice, not been in the public eye for over 20 years that makes her stepping into the light to make this announcement a “big deal” to many of us. I for one applaud and thank her and wish her much love and happiness.

  29. Stephen Q says

    I am her age and watched her growing up. I knew back then she was a little “tomboy”. I just figured whe was out already.

  30. say what says


    Oh yeah David E

    White Dog

    I remember that movie , also a very good Movie


    Her 2 best movies

    -White Dog

    -Blinded by the Light

    & Empty Nest was funny

  31. MJ says

    You are such a fraud. We would see you at the the “O’ and Peanuts with Ina, everyone knew you were gay…Now you decide to come out??? Go back to your safe life, we have no need of you.

  32. Bart says

    I worked with Kristy 20 years ago and she was a great person and probably the most naturally gifted actress I’ve ever known. She never hid she was gay then, had the same girlfriend (there’s something to celebrate…20 years together with the same person. She should be celebrated!)

    Loved her then, still love her. You go, Kristy!

  33. James says

    I agree with a few others…VERY good for you Kristy, I truly believe coming out is the healthiest thing you can do for yourself…but sweetie I’ve followed your career from the beginning (and quite honestly really miss your absence from Hollywood)and knew you were a lesbian from a very early age.

    Oh, PLEASE get back into acting! You were fantastic! Much love AND happiness!

  34. FagZilla360 says

    Old news, but brave none the less. Funny thing, I was watching my fave film, “Only When I Laugh” when I spotted this story. She’s a brilliant and gifted actress. I can only hope we will see her again on TV or in films. She would make a great team with Streep!

  35. Paul says


    What a bitter, lonely person you must be. Why would you say such negative things about an extremely nice person who has the courage to publicly come out?!

    Coming out publicly is such a personal decision that needs to be done on one’s own time and when THEY feel they are ready to do so.

    Go get a life and do something constructive.
    If not, stay over at Queerty with bitter, nasty “Tank”, he’s more your caliber.

  36. enough already says

    And, in other news today, we find that water is wicked wet.
    I am glad she is taking a stand to fight bullying. That she has only now come out did genuinely surprise me, I never knew she was ‘in’.

  37. DJ says

    I completely disagree with you. It doesn’t matter if people thought she was gay or not, but we do need her and every other public figure who is gay to come out!

    The more the general public sees out-and-proud gay people the better. The public will start to understand that gay people are normal and we are your friends, your family members and no, the sky did not fall.

  38. says

    Well, I guess because this is a gay site, Towleroad doesn’t realize that she’s also “best known” perhaps even “most known” by a lot of straight guys who were born in the 1960’s for her role in “Little Foxes.”

  39. Booka says

    How good to hear that she has had a strong and long standing relationship all this time. Her journey as been rich and gifted one. I could only wish her the best. Although, it is not any surprise to me; because I too remember her back in the late 70’s at the Odessey and Peanuts. It does raise a eyebrow that others might still be around that also remember those times and circumstances. That they are STILL nasty, mean, judgmental bitches, unfortunately, does not surprise me in the least.

  40. Russell says

    Kristy McNichol was always cute, but her brother Jimmy was even cuter. Any report he might be gay?

  41. Bob Finholm says

    Congrats to ‘Buddy’! She’s still beautiful, and that photo indeed shows her true happiness.

    And very few people can say they guested on TWO TV specials with the late Karen Carpenter. :)

  42. truelite says

    Gay activist and scientist Simon LeVay said: “It’s important to stress what I didn’t find. I did not prove that homosexuality is genetic, or find a genetic cause for being gay. I didn’t show that gay men are born that way, the most common mistake people make in interpreting my work. Nor did I locate a gay center in the brain.” “Gay activism was clearly the force that propelled the APA to declassify homosexuality”.

  43. truelite says

    Lesbian activist Camille Paglia said: “Homosexuality is not ‘normal.’ On the contrary it is a challenge to the norm…Nature exists whether academics like it or not. And in nature, procreation is the single relentless rule. That is the norm. Our sexual bodies were designed for reproduction…No one is born gay. The idea is ridiculous…”

    Lesbian activist and biologist Dr. Anne Fausto-Sterling, referring to the “born gay” argument, said: “It provides a legal argument that is, at the moment actually having some sway in court. For me, it’s a very shaky place. It’s bad science and bad politics.”

  44. truelite says

    Being supportive of the basic civil rights of gays and lesbians does not require a belief in the false notion that people are born gay.

    They are not. Homosexuality is caused by emotional trauma – from childhood neglect, abuse, or any number of other traumatic causes.

    If we love someone, we want to see them healed from the trauma, not married.

    In the Netherlands where gay marriage has been accepted for quite awhile now, has seen no decrease in gay suicide – in fact, some studies show an increase.

    If you do not promote healing and choose to ignore it for your own selfish reasons, their blood is on your hands.

  45. truelite says

    Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA 2009)

    “One half of the victims…often linked their homosexuality to their sexual victimization experiences.”

    “The age at the time of the molestation ranged from 4 to 16 with a mean age of 10.”

  46. Bill Michael says

    You know, I always knew there was something I liked about her. It must have been the “Tomboy” in her that was so appealing. I was nuts about her just like I was nuts about Sara Gilbert from Roseanne. Anyway, she looks great at nearly 50…

  47. jack says

    Thank you Kristy. The more people who are out the harder it becomes for the bigots to demonize us gay folks.

  48. jeramie dioso says

    i admired so much kristy mcnichol for coming out in the open. not so many women or men are brave enough to admit in public that they are homosexuals.Praise be to her.

  49. HollywoodKid says

    I think most of you are talking about Meredith Baxter coming out a few years back. Kristy never came out publicly but was outed a few times by others. I was a very close friend with Kristy in the 70’s and 80’s and yes she did go to the Odyssey One nightclub but you can bet she was never high on anything. She never even drank alcohol. I still see her from time to time and I’m so happy for her that she is at a good place in her life and wants to be open about her sexuality.

    Hats off Kris!!

  50. chele says

    No big shocker here,not any more than it was when Jodie Foster came out. Yeah, we sort of guessed that one. I am happy for her. She still looks good. She was always the IT girl when I was a kid, even before “Little Darlings.” Sher was all over Tiger Beat, People, everywhere.