Nikki Nelson / WENN 1 / 3
Nikki Nelson / WENN 1 / 3

Actress Kristy McNichol has come out as a lesbian in a bid to help kids who are tormented about their sexuality.

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The 49-year-old former child star of TV hit "Empty Nest" and cult film "Two Moon Junction" dropped off Hollywood's radar in the late 1990s when she retired from acting -- but now she's making a brief return to the spotlight to help bullied teens.

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Announcing his client has been living with her partner Martie Allen for two decades, McNichol's publicist Jeff Ballard tells, "[She] is sad about kids being bullied. She hopes that coming out can help kids who need support. She would like to help others who feel different."

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The Emmy Award-winning former actress has also released a recent photo of herself and Allen on a night out, stating that because she is 'approaching 50' she wants to be 'open about who I am.'"