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'Real Housewives' star comes out as lesbian, will stay married to husband

Braunwyn Windham-Burke shared that she and her husband will be staying married despite her not being attracted to men at all.
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Windham-Burke said her husband "knows the girl I'm dating."Bravo / NBCU Photo Bank / Getty Images
/ Source: TODAY

"The Real Housewives of Orange County" cast member Braunwyn Windham-Burke just came out as a lesbian.

"It's been something that I think everyone's kind of known has been coming but I'm finally comfortable enough to say I like women," the 43-year-old reality star revealed during an interview with GLAAD.

"I'm gay, you know, I'm a member of the LGBTQIA+ community. I'm a lesbian and it has taken me 42 years to say that but I'm so proud of where I am right now and I'm so happy where I am and just to be able to be comfortable in my own skin after so long is just so nice."

Windham-Burke became a cast member on the 14th season of "The Real Housewives of Orange County." She has has been married to her husband, Sean Burke, for more than 20 years. They share seven children together: Hazel, 2, Koa, 4, twins Caden and Curran, 7, Jacob, 15, Rowan, 18, and Bella, 20.

"I had a scene with Tamra that everyone kind of talked about," she explained regarding what made her come to terms with her sexuality. "When we were getting ready for the reunion I was talking to a producer that I trust a lot, his name was James, and he said, 'How do you feel about this? Was it a drunken mistake or is this a part of who you are?' And I said, 'This is who I am.'"

"When I went to the reunion last year I kind of started babystepping into, 'This is who I am, I like women,' and kind of testing the waters with my friends, my cast, my family," she continued, adding that the news was "well-received" among those closest to her.

She added that stereotypes of lesbians prevented herself from accepting her own sexuality.

"I grew up in a time when, you know, my idea of what being a lesbian was was you had short hair, you wore flannel," she said. "There's a very masculine stereotype, so when I was younger I never really thought that I could be that. I knew I was attracted to women. I always have been. But I liked makeup and hair and I didn't quite understand what to do with that."

And while she told GLAAD she is not attracted to men, she said she and her husband have no plans to divorce. “I love Sean. I love him dearly, he is my person, he is my family. But I’m not attracted to men and I never have been," she said.

"We are in unchartered territories," she added. "Sean and I are still married, I plan on staying married. We are not sleeping in the same bedroom right now, but we are in the same house. We are raising our kids together, he's my best friend. He knows the girl I'm dating."

On what most helped her come out, Windham-Burke pointed to her sobriety.

“This year, I got sober, which I know there is a correlation between the two,” she said. “I know that when you get sober and you start doing the work that goes into that, you start realizing a lot of the reasons you drank had to do with who you were on the inside. ... This sort of became something that I didn’t want to hide anymore, and I didn’t want to keep a secret anymore.

"I wanna be able to go out to dinner with whoever I want without judgment. You know, as long as my husband's OK and the person I'm dating is OK and knows everything. I didn’t want to have to hide this anymore.”