The actress who played Elyse Keaton in the popular 80’s TV sitcom Family Ties has come out of the closet as lesbian.

Meredith Baxter made the announcement in an interview with NBC’s Today show on Wednesday, following tabloid reports and photographs of her with her girlfriend on a lesbian cruise.

Baxter (62), who has been married three times to men, said that she only identified as lesbian in the last seven years.

“I am a lesbian and it was a later-in-life recognition. Some people would say, well, you’re living a lie and, you know, the truth is – not at all. This has only been for the past seven years… I’ve always lived a very private life. To come out and disclose stuff is very antithetical to who I am… I did not want some tabloid to take the story and make it up – I wanted it to be in my own words,” she said.

The mother of five further revealed that she is “extraordinarily happy” and is supported by her friends and family.

“I said, ‘I think I’m gay,’ and my oldest boy said, ‘I knew.’ The support from my family and anyone close to me has been so immediate and unqualified. I’ve really been blessed,” she said.

Baxter has been in a relationship for four years with Nancy Locke, who is openly gay. The actress noted that, “I had to reach a level of comfort because it wasn’t fair to push her back into secrecy. We live very out lives in Los Angeles.”

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