01:20 PM EDT 07/06/2014
Originally posted 01/11/2012 07:40PM
Since she decided to come out about her sexuality to help kids who have been bullied, Kristy McNichol says the response has been tremendous.
"I'm overwhelmed with the love and support of my family, friends and fans," McNichol, 49, tells PEOPLE exclusively.
Originally posted 01/06/2012 06:20PM
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."
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