Outfest 2010: Meredith Baxter on coming out: “I had a couple of very uncomfortable days … and after that, it has been fine.
Meredith Baxter’s coming out as a lesbian last December got a lot of media attention including a compelling interview on The Today Show and an extensive profile in People magazine.
Now the star of Family Ties, Family, Bridget Loves Bernie and the Betty Broderick bioflicks has had time to process what has happened in her life and she seems quite content these days.
“I had a couple of very uncomfortable days … and after that, it has been fine,” Baxter said at the Outfest Film Festival Saturday. “It has probably been more than fine and there is a great deal of relief, freedom and a sense of we aren’t keeping any secrets and that’s a secret I don’t have.”
The actress was joined on a Coming Out In Hollywood panel by out actors Doug Spearman (Noah’s Arc) and Jonathan Slavin (Better off Ted) as well as out director Don Roos (Opposite of Sex) and out publicist Howard Bragman.
She was asked how she reached the decision to come out publicly as a lesbian.
“I don’t know how much it was actually a decision on my part,” Baxter said. “To be honest, I was at a point in my life where I was sort of entertaining the idea … I thought I might put an ad in the paper, kind of like a little birth announcement that would say, ‘Okay, I’m gay. – Meredith.’ I didn’t really know how that was supposed to come about but I was planning to talk to my business manager about that the same day he called and said that Perez Hilton and The Enquirer and all those guys were ready to talk about the fact that [her partner] Nancy [Locke] and I were on a lesbian cruise.”
“When it became apparent that this was not in my control any longer I was put in touch with the lovely [publicist] Howard Bragman and he sort of put things into motion in ways that I thought was way over the top…an article in…People Magazine….followed by on air with Matt Lauer saying to national television ‘hello im a lesbian!’”
Baxter added, “It was not in my plan but I will say that an enormous amount of relief followed that. I didn’t expect it. I didn’t know to look for that. I didn’t know to want that. But now the feeling is ‘Fuck it. Everyone knows. I don’t have to worry about anything.’”
The actress said that before she went public, “it just felt normal to be in, to be in the closet frankly because it hadn’t been that many years and I’d always been one of those obnoxious people who didn’t want you to know anything about me! So that was just one more thing I didn’t want you to know. I just kept a low profile. Certainly to my family and friends I was [out].”
The moderator asked Baxter if she was still pursuing acting roles and she said: “That’s a question you have to ask, isn’t that funny? One would hope you wouldn’t have to ask that. … It’s just been a long, slow period – it was tough before I came out, it just hasn’t gotten better.”
Coming soon: Much more from the Outfest panel Coming Out In Hollywood