Kristy McNichol, who portrayed Barbara Weston in the 1980's sitcom "Empty Nest," came out as a lesbian on Friday.
The actress told People magazine that as she is approaching her 50th birthday, she decided to "be open about who I am."
Her publicist Jeff Ballard told the weekly magazine that she has been living with her partner Martie Allen for the past twenty years and opened up about their sexuality because she was upset that young people are being bullied.
"She hopes that coming out can help kids who need support. She would like to help others who feel different," Ballard said of his client.
McNichol is perhaps best known for her Emmy Award-winning role as Buddy Lawrence in the 1970s show "Family." She also starred opposite Tatum O'Neal and Matt Dillon in the 1980 classic "Little Darlings."
The actress has remained largely off-grid since she left Hollywood to take care of her health and deal with her ongoing battle with depression and anxiety.
"She is very happy and healthy... And she enjoys living a very private life," Ballard said of his client's current life, which includes tennis, yoga and raising miniature dachshunds.