kristy 300x224 Empty Nest Actress Kristy McNichol Comes Out As A LesbianUnless you are one of our youngest readers, you probably are at least vaguely aware of the late 1980′s/early 1990′s sitcom Empty Nest. If you are not familiar at all, the most important things you need to know are that it was funny, they were The Golden Girls‘ next door neighbors, and also they had a dog named Dreyfus who was awesome.

Anyway, Kristy McNichol, who played the daughter Barbara on the show, and who also starred on the 70′s era show Family, has come out as a lesbian after years away from acting.

Kristy McNichol has been out of the public eye for 20 years. Now she’s chosen to come out – to try to help kids who are being bullied.

McNichol, 49, who has lived with her partner Martie Allen, also 49, for the past two decades, decided to make a statement about her sexuality and share this photo because she is “approaching 50″ and wants to “be open about who I am.”

She “is very sad about kids being bullied,” her publicist Jeff Ballard tells PEOPLE. “She hopes that coming out can help kids who need support. She would like to help others who feel different.”

It’s so sad that so many people are coming out for that reason, but at the same time, it’s always a good thing when those of us who are invisible make ourselves known. Kristy McNichol being a lesbian might not be revolutionary knowledge for today’s thirteen year-olds, but the more people just like her are honest and forthcoming, the more that those kids will know that they’re not alone.

Most importantly, this is what Dreyfus, the dog from the show, thinks about Kristy being a lesbian:

Just can’t be bothered by the information.

[h/t Towleroad]