'Family Ties' Mom: 'I'm a Lesbian'

As Elyse Keaton, the mother on Family TiesMeredith Baxter always encouraged her kids to be open about their feelings. On Wednesday, it was Baxter's turn to talk about her own personal life when she announced on the Today show that she's a lesbian.

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"It was a later-in-life recognition," 62-year-old Baxter said.

"This has only been the in the last seven years," she said of finally realizing her true nature as a gay woman. "I got involved with someone I never expected to get involved with. It was that kind of awakening."

Baxter, who has been married three times and has five children, said the revelation helped her better understand "issues I had in my early life."

"I had a great deal of difficulty connecting with men in relationships," she said. "I'd been involved with people who I thought 'they're the problem,' but I realized it's me."

Meredith is in a four-year relationship with a Los Angeles building contractor named Nancy Locke. Her family and her friends -- including her Family Ties castmates-- have been very accepting of their coupledom.

Rumors about her homosexuality began circulating after she took a cruise "with 1200 lesbians" (including the openly gay Top Gun actress Kelly McGillis). It was that gossip that motivated her to publicly address the very personal topic.

"I didn't want some tabloid to take a story and make it up," Baxter said. "I wanted it to be in my own words."

More of Meredith's own words can be found in the new issue of PEOPLE magazine, where she elaborates on her life as "a lesbian mom."

Plus: Jodie Sweetin fessed up about her drug addiction on the Today show

Are you surprised by Meredith Baxter's announcement? Chime in below!

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