Thursday, December 03, 2009

Ain’t no nothing we can’t love each other through

Meredith Baxter

Yep, Elyse Keaton is gay. Meredith Baxter (I will always and forever want to add the Birney) came out yesterday on “Today.” Never in my wildest wishful thinking would I have imagined that the “Family Ties” mom was actually a lesbian. Hoped? Sure. Dreamed? The naughty kind.

Her interview on “Today” was direct, honest and thoughtful. At 62, it’s definitely better late than never. A late-in-life coming out is no easier than an early-in-life coming out. In fact, it might be harder given decades of expectations and self-identifying that must be overcome. But I think Meredith handled herself with style and poise, sensitivity and candor. This is all we can ask hope for from our celebrities after all, that they share their essential truth – whatever that is – with us.

Watch her segment here. (Sorry if it won’t play internationally – Here’s a recap: She’s gay. She’s in a relationship. She’s still hot.)

I like how Matt almost said “Congratulations!” at the end of the interview. Really, they are in order. But the best part about that whole thing? Her saying: “I am extraordinarily happy.” Because, in the end, that’s what it’s all about: Being happy. Being who we are makes us happy. Being accepted for who we are makes us happy. Being in love makes us happy. Being accepted for who we love makes us happy.

This gay thing is so simple yet so complicated. It wraps around so many of the cornerstones of basic human existence like love, sex and faith yet in the end it boils down to just this: being happy.

As an enormous, enormous, enormous (yes, a third enormous – that enormous) fan of “Family Ties” growing up, this news is momentous on so many levels. Initially I watched because I had a ridiculously acute crush on Michael J. Fox. I justify said crush now by saying that if you tilt your head and squint, Alex P. Keaton looks like a petite, preppy butch girl. But I also harbored a deep and secret mom crush on Meredith. She was everything I though was great: Smart. Compassionate. Spunky. Liberal. Beautiful. And she’s got a mean right hook.

Now add “Gay” and “In a tank top” and I’ve just found heaven.

To this day impassioned speech making coupled with blue-eyed, blonde-haired All-American attractiveness is a weakness of mine. But none did it better than Meredith as she battled with her Reagan-worshiping, Brooks Brother-wearing TV son. In fact, her revelation today settles it: Elyse Keaton made me gay.

[T-shirt design courtesy StuntDouble]

Look, America. The Brady Bunch dad was gay. The Family Ties mom is gay. These are the people you already love and trust and admire. That they’re gay doesn’t change that one bit. Plus, it’s another argument for gay marriage: End fictitious TV divorces.

Meredith also did an interview with The Advocate, which features a great, “You are glasses” moment. Gosh, do you think she is a Callica fan?
Q: And was that a revelation or just a slow aha! moment?
A: No, it was pretty much a revelation. The analogy I’ve used is a story [from] when I was a kid. I never could see very well and I said something to my parents and it kind of went unnoticed, or no one really responded to it. I guess I didn’t make enough noise. When I was 12 I tried on a [friend’s] pair of glasses and I was stunned with how clearly I could see. In truth, I used to think trees looked like lollipops because there was a solid stake and this solid ball. I didn’t know most people could see leaves. Oh, this is how the world is perceived? That’s kind of what having that second relationship made me realize — that this is where I want to be because I was dead to the world in many other ways. I’ve been married three times, and I have a slew of children, but I’ve never felt that kind of connection before in that kind of awakening. It was very profound for me.

Awww. Don’t you just want to hug her – or something more? So welcome, Mama Keaton. You will always be a tender, wonderful, influential part of my childhood. And now I couldn’t be prouder or happier to get to call you a member of the family. Sha la la la.


Making Space said...

Thanks. So much. This post brought tears to my eyes. Beautiful, sweet, thoughtful, and funny.

;) babs said...

another genius post by miss snarker!

;) babs

Big Shamu said...

Great job DS. I know my jaw dropped when I read the news. It was immediately followed by a huge grin. Can I also say how wonderful to see a celebrity aging naturally? No cutting, toxing, stretching or scary plasticky face? A beautiful woman who has some great friends who helped her get pointed in the best direction for her.

pyewacket said...

I watched Bridget Loves Bernie for Meredith Baxter...though I had never heard of her until that show. (Which was very controversial back then to do a show about two people from two different religions who loved each other and got married in spite of what society, their immediate community and their families thought.)

Then I most definitely watched Family because of Meredith Baxter and thought that show focused too much on Buddy and their middle brother.

And then you bet your sweet butt I only started watching Family Ties because of Meredith Baxter (I keep thinking Birney too) and no squinting or imagining was required.

So I find it simply wonderful that an actress who played so many wonderful characters throughout the years and probably launched the questionings of many, many young girls...ends up...well, so happy to be gay and in love.

How cool is that?

And we needed some good news like this yesterday...especially here in New York...where the cowards stayed in the shadows in the state senate and announced that they voted no to marriage equality in the weakest of voices.

tlsintx said...

Life. Liberty. The Pursuit of Happiness.

The Big Scary Gay Agenda.


R said...

Loved the post, Ms. Snarker, as always...but to be honest... as a fellow gaysian gal... reading "blonde, blue-eyed, all-American attractiveness" made me really sad..... :(

tlsintx said...

PS: I must say, I watched Family Ties for Justine Bateman...let's hope she comes out next! :)

sara said...

Family Ties: Mom
Brady Bunch: Dad
But don't forget my favorite tv family values queer: Granpa Walton. Not only queer, but a commie! Hee, hee.

kimber p said...

now THIS is news!!! this is what is worthy of front page, drop your jaw in amazement and glee, and call everyone you know headlines :)

I've never been this happy that someone came out..this is awesome!

Kathryn said...

Best commentary on this lovely news. Thanks!

Norma Desmond said...

*thumbs up*

Hanna said...

Great news and great post!! (I take this all-American-thing as sarcastic)
I watched the dubbed version of this show when I was about eleven and I was always trying to fight my crush on the mum and tried to focus on the daughter, she was blonde as well after all... But now everything is just clear, crush-mystery solved. Just like the one with Jodie on Candleshoe. What a great and happy day!

Liz said...

What a great story! I am so happy for her.

As someone who also came out late in life, I can totally relate to the fear she had coming out to her kids. Luckily for me, mine were as great as hers about it. After all, it's about being true to yourself and finding happiness.

lynnie said...

I also came out later. I am thankful every day that I have HB who loves me and the best of my life is now and before me.

Anonymous said...

Great post. You pretty much summed up my thoughts exactly.

Milena said...

looks like someone watches grey's anatomy. didn't erica make a similar analogy about glasses and being able to see?

TheWeyrd1 said...

During the cruise (mentioned by Matt Lauer on the Today Show), Meredith came right up to me and introduced herself and her girlfriend, Nancy, when we were waiting around for the bus to take us on an excursion. In my head I was "yep, I know!", but I remained calm cool and collected. Although, I probably looked a bit star struck by the experience...heh