Saturday, February 7, 2009

Speaking of Tomboys: A Tribute to Kristy McNichol


Our community should acknowledge the contribution of Krisy McNichol to lesbian awareness in the 1970s. She is not officially out, I don't think, but, nonetheless, can you think of another tomboy who was so prominent--and popular--in that era of Anita Bryant's shameful, mainstreamed hatred toward gays? Kristy was a mega-star of the 1970s, beloved by everyone, and everyone, unless suffering from some kind of unfortunate perception disorder, could see she was a little baby dyke.

I loved Kristy McNichol even before she starred in her Emmy-award-winning role in the late 1970s television drama, Family. (Let's not forget, her character's name was "Buddy" on that show. Have you ever known a straight female called "Buddy"?) Before Family, Kristy was in a wonderful, unappreciated show called Apple's Way, which tragically lasted one season in 1973. In my opinion (as a six-year-old), it was some of the finest television ever. Other great baby-dyke-vibe roles McNichol played were in films such as Little Darlings with Tatum O'Neal and Only When I Laugh with Marsha Mason.

Once McNichol became a star and aged into her teenage years, things started to go downhill. She was known to party at Studio 54, which we can assume involved drugs. I think her inability to cope with her lesbianism in the homophobic world of Hollywood contributed to a nervous breakdown she suffered in the early 80s. Even though she had been an enormously popular actor (and pop singer with a remake of "He's So Fine"), and even though she was the first young actress to break the $1 million pay scale, her career never really recovered from B-films and uninspired television sitcoms. McNichol retired in 1998, at the age of 36, stating that she was suffering from bi-polar disorder and needed to take care of herself. The lesbian world sends its best wishes and gratitude to our brave Ms. McNichol.

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