I knew it! Well, I had a hunch. In this morning’s online news I learned that Kristy McNichol has come out of the closet. She marks the second, following Meredith Baxter, from the cast of the 70’s television drama “Family” to come out as lesbian. I can’t believe Kristy is approaching 50, but then I look to my age and it is clear. Her and her partner Martie Allen have been together for twenty years.
Her coming out is very telling to me. I think back to my very early years, 7 or 8 years old, I had a crush on her, or that is what I would tell you then. Seeing her as a “tomboy”, she was the closest I could find that I could “like” in that way that would make me feel “normal”. I know part of it too was the secret crush I had on her brother Jimmy. I didn’t watch much that he was in, but he was on all the covers of the teen magazines around the same time. I remember the picture below, one I looked / stared at more than I would ever admit. A parallel to this brother/sister crush is one I had on another tomboy on the tube, Nancy McKeon; my secret crush was on her brother Phillip who starred as Linda Lavin’s son Tommy on Alice.
I first loved her in Family, a favorite show of mine growing up, where she played the role of Buddy Lawrence. Then there was Little Darlings, a movie I would watch every time it was on television. I had it on betamax (there’s my age again) which I would guess the constant replaying of that movie is what gummed up and killed my first top-loading video cassette recorder. What a struggle it was to hold onto my “Kristy crush” with Matt Dillon on the screen.
For People magazine, she comes out in an effort to help bullied kids. “She hopes that coming out can help kids who need support. She would like to help others who feel different.” –her publicist Jeff Ballard. Thank you Kristy. Your coming out will help kids, no matter how old they may be, feel better about who they are.
Family – Opening Credits
Little Darlings – Matt Dillon & Kristy McNichol
Kristy & Jimmy McNichol sing Fum, Fum, Fum