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.