Kristy McNichol Has Come Out. Who’s Kristy McNichol?

Family and Empty Nest star Kristy McNichol has avoided the spotlight for decades—so much so that when the former teen idol came out Friday to People magazine, many of our, ahem, younger gay friends didn’t know who she was.

McNichol, 49, has lived a private life with partner Martie Allen for almost twenty years, but before that, she was a big-name actress and a regular in teen mags, on television, and—after acknowledging drug abuse and being diagnosed with bipolar disorder—on tabloid covers.

Her decision to share that she’s a lesbian, she told People, came from the fact that she’s nearing 50 and wanted “be open about who I am.” She also wanted to reach out to LGBT youth who are being bullied.

McNichol “hopes that coming out can help kids who need support,” publicist Jeff Ballard tells the magazine. “She would like to help others who feel different.” Ballard added that since leaving Hollywood, the former actress is “very happy and healthy…and enjoys living a very private life.”

We’re not gonna be nasty (no, really): McNichol went through some serious tough times. We’re glad she’s found happiness and can live openly and honestly.

Now excuse us while we go watch Little Darlings.

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  • Ted B. (Charging Rhino)

    I thought she was quietly “out” decades ago….

  • christopher di spirito

    Everyone I know and even people I don’t know, knew Kristy McNichol is a lesbian.

    Kinda’ like Tom Cruise. Oh snap, I said it. I hope the Scientologists don’t dispatch the Xenu army to kidnap me now.

  • Lefty

    “We’re glad she’s found happiness and can live openly and honestly”

    Me, too. Good for her. :)

  • Scott Gatz

    I always had a crush on her growing up. Must have been attracted to her tom-boyish ways. Of course it’s no surprise, and would have been great if it was earlier, but good for her.

  • Michael DeSelms

    I remember back in the day when the bar “Peanuts” in WEHO was a drag bar. She came in often with her girlfriend.

  • Chopsie

    Isn’t this old news? I think I remember hearing about this when she was on that Golden Girls spinoff.

  • Timmmeeeyyy

    “We’re not gonna be nasty (no, really)”
    You sort of blew that one with the headline.

  • Mike

    The only thing that would make this story better is if Dinah Manoff writes to People Magazine bragging about her harem of 20 kept young men.

    (Because Carol was the one who was bad with men. Geddit, geddit.)

  • CBRad

    So that’s two of the stars of “Family” who were gay.

  • geoff

    Kristy’s co-star in Little Darlings was Matt Dillon. One reads so little about his life.

  • Tackle

    When I first heard about this, I thought it was a joke. Only because It was known that she was a lesbian twenty five yrs ago. I’m not sure if she was ever really in the closet since she was open about who she was.

    I’m sure she means well but I think her reason for her so-called comming out is misdirected. I just don’t think that too many of our LBGT youth are gonna be able to our want to relate or listen to a nearly fifty-year-old lesbian.

    I thank it’s wounderful that she’s been able to mantain a long term twenty five year relationship. If it’s been a good 25yrs for her and her partner, her energy would be better used by her sharing and giving advice to LBGT people maybe, 25 or older who are ready for a long term relatioship. And considering that she has been in a relationship longer than, Kim, Brittney, and most others in Entertainment she would be more helpful to LBGT people and a good example to our straight breathern as to why we deserve legal marriage. Everywhere.

  • Cam

    If you see any old movies with her in them I thought it was pretty apparent that BOTH she and Jodie Foster were lesbians. Friends and I saw “Little Darlings” a year or so ago and were all saying “Um……we know the reason that she is still a virgin and it has nothing to do with availability of boys or morals.” lol

    It’s a shame it took so long but congrats to her for finally confirming what everybody who ever saw her in ….anything already knew.

  • Brian

    Anybody who was alive in the 1970s or 1980s knows who Kristy McNichol is.

  • andy

    I thought she was already out, but very low key on the celebrity meter…Hmmm maybe someone is fishing for a reality show with this new publicity of what I thought was old news.

  • CBRad

    At the time Rex Reed was saying, about Little Darlings, “..the worst part of the film is where Kristy McNichol is kissing a boy who’s prettier than she is..”

  • macmantoo

    I thought she came out too. Way back when dropped off the Empty Nest show and had a nervous breakdown I believe when it came out. Kind of like everyone always knew she was. I loved her on “Family”, but I was more into her older brother, now he was hot.

  • Cam


    She didn’t come out, the tabloids kind of outed her, but I think she denied it.

  • Clint Riley

    “The Pirate Movie”!

  • CBRad

    @Clint Riley: LOLLOLLLOLOLLL !!

  • Lefty

    I’m not sure what the fact “everyone already knew” has to do with it tbh.
    There are thousands of gay kids in schools where everyone kind of knows they’re gay before they come out, but that doesn’t make them coming out any less brave. Coming out is a personal thing, so who cares what everyone does or doesn’t already know.

  • Shannon1981

    I remember watching her on Empty Nest as a kid and thinking she had to be gay. “Gay” became the word I heard everyone whispering by the time I was 7 years old in reference to me, and I was a precocious enough kid to be able to figure out what it meant. This is not news, but @Lefty: you are right, glass closets are still closets and it takes courage to open that door. I am sure it also took courage for her to step back into the spotlight after all that time out of it, especially with something so personal.

    IDK, I’m torn on this one. I can be pretty nasty myself about the “duh” factor at times, but this time, I am touched.

  • Barry

    Is there anything more annoying them some smug, anonymous nobody saying something like, “ha ha, I knew 20 years ago” whenever a famous beloved celebrity acknowledges they’re gay?

  • HM

    Loved her in the 1970s if only because she grew up in the same house as Jimmy McNichol, whose aluminum “tv special “slacks I dreamed of seeing through. My first ‘twink’. Ahhhhh.

    It seems they both survived their Studio 54 days….albeit him better than her. While she has finally arrived at a place of public confidence, a little internet stalking tells me he grew into a boring middle aged environmentally conscious California construction contractor & father of two.

    That era was merciless to many child stars. Sounds like the McNichols escaped alive.

  • Spike

    “We’re not gonna be nasty (no, really): McNichol went through some serious tough times. We’re glad she’s found happiness and can live openly and honestly.”

    Was this written before or after the headline? And the Queerty bullying continues . . .

  • Cheryl M

    She did not acknowledge drug abuse, that is completely false! She was one of those straight laced kind of actresses except she did smoke. I have researched all of the materials written about her for the past decades and there was absolutely no accusation she abused drugs or evidence whatsoever to support that accusation.

  • DarkZephyr

    @Clint Riley: Ha, that is what I remember her from as well. I was just a little boy when that film came out and yet I had a HUGE crush on Christopher Atkins. I would close my eyes and imagine him coming to take me away. lol

  • Lillibet

    I have known she was gay since the early 1980’s, having met a girlfriend of hers while I was in college. Good for her for speaking her truth.
    However, I am concerned that she is not more open about her mental illness. It has such a terrible stigma and more high profile people need to open up about it and show that people with an invisible illness can lead productive lives.
    Personally, I find it easier to be open about my sexuality because of all the brave people that have come before me to make that possible, but about my personal battle with mental illness I have experienced the loss of friends, family that thinks it’s a character flaw, and a sense of isolation because I cannot be open about it.

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