Meredith Baxter was America’s mom on Family Ties back in the 1980′s. She has been married to 3 different men and has 5 children, and later in life, she figured out she’s a lesbian.
As you do, Meredith came out on Today talking with Matt Lauer on NBC in December 2009, after she and her partner, Nancy Locke, went on a Sweet cruise to shoot season 2 of We Have To Stop Now, a comedy web series (season 1 and the fabulous soundtrack are at these links). In season 2, Meredith plays a set of identical twin psychotherapists. It started as a lesbian web series, and turned out to be a comedy web series that happened to have lesbian characters.
Here’s the interview (9 min):
She wasn’t in the closet or hiding. She’s just a very private person and has been out of the public spotlight for a long time. She was out to her family, close friends, former cast members, and those close to her and her partner. She just wasn’t out to the public at large.
Someone on the cruise decided to out her to the world in a tabloid when they got back to the U.S. To prevent losing control of the situation, Meredith did the right thing. She did an end-run around the tabloid and came out first on her own terms.
Why hadn’t she come out before? She wasn’t exactly in the closet. She just wasn’t all over TV and movies, and her personal life wasn’t big news or anything the paparazzi were chasing.
I agree with Cathy DeBuono and Jill Bennett on this one. If we find out who on that cruise conspired to leak Meredith’s orientation, there will be serious social consequences. That person will lose the support of her larger community. If it turns out to be a ship crew member, there will be a job loss.
The lesbian community is a family, a tribe, and we support each other, not reveal information we have no business revealing. Meredith’s orientation would have become more widely known over time as We Have To Stop Now becomes more widely seen by the general public. But to reveal it in a tabloid as though it was some kind of scandal is disgusting, and far below the dignity of all LGBTQ people.
If you haven’t read Untied: A Memoir of Family, Fame, and Floundering, I highly recommend it. I read it in a very short period of time, and it was riveting. Figuring out I’m gay when I was older, I identified quite a lot with Meredith Baxter’s journey through an inability to connect emotionally with men in intimate relationships. I didn’t suffer her childhood, nor the abuse she faced in her marriages. But it took me a long time to realize that the inability to emotionally connect was an important sign to decipher and understand.
Please leave your thoughts and discussion in the comments.