Meredith Baxter’s family ties just got more interesting.
The actress — who starred as a hippie mom in the 80′s sitcom Family Ties — revealed on the Today Show Wednesday that she is a lesbian, a secret she kept hidden for several years.
“I am a lesbian and it was a later-in-life recognition,” she told Matt Lauer. “Some people would say, well, you’re living a lie and, you know, the truth is – not at all. This has only been for the past seven years.”
Baxter, 62, says she decided to come out on national television after her sexuality became the source of speculation.
“I’ve always lived a very private life,” said the actress, who’s never even had a publicist. “To come out and disclose stuff is very antithetical to who I am.”
The National Enquirer reported that Baxter was spotted in November aboard a Caribbean cruise sponsored by lesbian travel company Sweet, writing that she was seen “traveling with a female friend, and she seemed very relaxed and comfortable.”
Baxter admitted that she did indeed take the vacation with her girlfriend, despite the possibility that the couple would be outed.
“I don’t want to be worried all the time,” she said. “I knew I was pushing it.”
Baxter’s admission is surprising given that she has been married several times.
In 1966, she wed her first husband, Robert Lewis Bush. They divorced five years later. In 1974, she married her second husband David Birney and the couple even starred in a television show together called Bridget Loves Birney. They divorced in 1989. She then married her third husband, Michael Blodgett, in 1995, and they divorced in 2000.
She explained that she deliberately chose to be with men with whom she clashed, so that she could blame them for the end of the relationship. “It never occurred to me to think, oh, [the problem is] me,” she said.
Then, seven years ago, she entered into a relationship with a woman and realized that she was gay.
“I got involved with someone I never expected to get involved with, and it was that kind of awakening,” she said. “I never fought it because it was like, oh, I understand why I had the issues I had early in life. I had a great deal of difficulty connecting with men in relationships.”
Baxter has been with her current girlfriend, Nancy, a contractor who she met through mutual friends, for the past four years.