I just found out from Oprah what people have known since 2009: the mom from the 80s TV show Family Ties is gay. Meredith Baxter is an out lesbian.
She says in an interview, about the moment she knew she was gay, at age 55, that she though to herself:
"Oh, I understand why I had the issues I had early in my life."
"I had a great deal of difficulty connecting with men in relationships."
"I assumed I was a bad picker, which I was indeed, but I was involved with people who made me think they were the problem, and there were problems. So it never occurred to me to think, oh I'm gay."
Here is the video where she outs herself on TV.
Oprah: I have talked to a lot of gay and lesbian people in my career. Every one of them knew, or had some kind of feeling, or some indication earlier in life. Did you ever have that feeling?
Meredith: When I was younger I never had any feeling. I was just looking for someone to make me okay. I was non-selective. I wouldn't look at a man and think anything.
Oprah: When you did figure it out. Did it feel like "Bingo! I'm home."
Meredith: Yes. It did. It felt like: Oh. Oh. Oh. It didn't scare me. I wasn't confused about it. I've been with men and it was nothing like this. I was like life is full of possibility now. Okay. I'm ready.
Oprah: What changed in your life that made this possible?
Meredith: Around that time my mother died and my youngest children went away to college. So there was no one to judge me, and no one at home that relied on me.
Meredith says later: When I was much younger I had crushes on girls in school, but it was not anything unusual. I was a very conventional girl.
I don't need to editorialize too much about this. The idea that she was not in touch with her emotions, desires or needs rings true for many women. That instead of knowing what she really wanted she thought in terms of needing someone to valid her. And finally, that she always blamed the lack of connection with men on something, but not on the fact that they were men.
On the left, we have the old TV family. On the right we have the current lesbian family.
Meredith Baxter has 5 kids and 3 marriages to men behind her. One of her daughters, Eva, looked like a hippy-punk lesbian on the Oprah show. Waist length pink hair with gold threads of something in it. Tatoos. Her response to her mom's coming out was: I want a girlfriend too. And, this daughter said that as a kid she used to have this fantasy that her role was to protect her mother. Aw. Sweet family.