Actress Kristy McNichol says she is
overwhelmed by the positive response to her decision to publicly come
The 49-year-old McNichol came out last
week in a statement made to People.com.
McNichol said she has been in a
20-year-old relationship with her partner Martie Allen, who is also
She said she wanted to come out because
she is “approaching 50” and wants to “be open about who I am.”
“I'm overwhelmed with the love and
support of my family, friends and fans,” she told People.com.
Publicist Jeff Ballard told the
magazine that McNichol cares deeply about troubled gay teens.
“Kristy feels strongly about fighting
bullying and intolerance. She realizes that kids don't always have
the coping skills to manage their fear and pain when they feel
'different.' And in her own way, she wants to help others by telling
people who she is. She hopes that all these small steps together can
make a difference,” Ballard said.
McNichol dropped out of Hollywood to
focus on her health after she was diagnosed with bipolar disorder.
She is best known for playing Buddy Lawrence on the ABC drama Family
and Barbara Weston on the NBC sitcom Empty Nest, a
spin-off of the long-running comedy hit The Golden Girls.
In the late 90s, she voiced
characters in the animated TV series Extreme Ghostbusters
and Invasion America.
After retiring from acting, McNichol,
who resides in Los Angeles, California, has devoted much of her time
to charity work.