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Meredith Baxter: The Way Wanda Sykes Came Out Is ‘Opportunistic’

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Now that she’s a full-fledged public lez, Family Ties mom Meredith Baxter is doling out the press interviews. It’s like she had a carefully orchestrated coming out plan in place. (Uh, yeah!) After a Today show stop, she’ll be on OutQ’s The Frank DeCaro Show today, with a layover on Advocate.com. And it’s there that she took a giant crap on a certain lesbian funny lady’s own coming out story. After living so long outside the public spotlight, Baxter might need a lesson in celebrity etiquette.

Namely, don’t shit on your fellow fags.

Baxter, 62, hasn’t exactly been hiding her sexuality, but she wasn’t trumpeting it either. But thanks to the National Enquirer and the gossip blogs, she’s been forced into public lesbianhood. Not that hopping aboard a lesbian cruise — with girlfriend of two years, Nancy Locke — did much to shield the attention. “I knew that this was probably going to come at one point, and obviously I wasn’t fighting too hard,” she says.

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So why come out now? Theoretically, she could have stayed silent, despite the impossible-to-deny reports. She’s still a working actress (recent credits: Brothers, Family Guy), but not nearly as high-profile as she once was. But it was as good a time as any, she says. “To be honest, it was time.”

Fine. But given that she’s acknowledging people that “[know] someone who’s gay or lesbian … [are] less likely to vote against them to take away their rights,” why not come out when it could have influenced a vote? Like, say, before Prop 8?

“That,” she insists, “would have seemed opportunistic. I didn’t see the point in that.”

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Interesting, because a fellow “not secretly gay, but not publicly out” lesbian actress feels entirely different.

Wanda Sykes used Prop 8 as her motivation to come out publicly. To be sure, it was after Prop 8 passed that Sykes made the big reveal. At a Las Vegas anti-Prop 8 rally, Sykes acknowledged what many in Hollywood knew for years — and specifically noted that Prop 8 was her reason to come out publicly, because the vote to eliminate same-sex marriage was an attack on her rights.

As a fellow California resident, well, Baxter didn’t make the same choice. And she has her reasons. Mostly, because she thought nobody needed her to come out: “It was certainly just heartbreaking to see that go down — I didn’t expect that at all. I really thought we were going to be OK.”

Well, we weren’t.

We aren’t harping on Baxter for not coming out before. Far from it! But with so few lesbian actress coming out stories to choose from, it might be wise to speak softly before criticizing how other famous gals choose to come out.

(Photo: Marc Royce)