Meredith Baxter

Actress Meredith Baxter revealed she is a lesbian, saying "it was a later-in-life recognition."

"Some people would say, well, you're living a lie and, you know, the truth is — not at all. This has only been for the past seven years," Baxter told Matt Lauer on Wednesday's Today show.

Baxter, who played the matriarch on Family Ties, made the decision to come out on national television after her sexuality became a tabloid target.

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"I've always lived a very private life. To come out and disclose stuff is very antithetical to who I am," said Baxter. "I did not want some tabloid to take the story and make it up — I wanted it to be in my own words."

After three failed marriages, Baxter, 62, had a relationship with a woman seven years ago and realized she was a homosexual.

"I got involved with someone I never expected to get involved with, and it was that kind of awakening," she said. "I never fought it because it was like, oh, I understand why I had the issues I had early in life. I had a great deal of difficulty connecting with men in relationships."

Baxter and her current girlfriend, Nancy, have been together for the past four years.

Though Baxter was nervous to tell her five children, her oldest boy admitted he already knew when she finally told him. "The support from my family and anyone close to me has been so immediate and unqualified," said Baxter. "I've really been blessed."