Bisexuals of the world, rejoice! Yesterday’s episode of Dr. Phil, in which he spoke with out lesbian CNN news anchor <ahref=”http:>Jane Velez-Mitchell, was the fairest, most honest assessment of bisexuality I’ve ever seen on TV. There was even a GLAAD-approved member of the American Institute of Bisexuality in the audience that Dr. Phil deferred to several times throughout the episode.
The headline guest was Velez-Mitchell, and though I didn’t make this clear in the TV Alert yesterday, she identifies as a lesbian, not as a bisexual. She was on the show to promote her new book, iWant: My Journey from Addiction and Overconsumption to a Simpler, Honest Life, and joining her was her former girlfriend and her former long-time boyfriend.
Velez-Mitchell succinctly told Dr. Phil, “I got honest about my alcoholism, and then I got honest about my sexual orientation.”
What was most interesting to me about Valez-Mitchell’s interview was that Dr. Phil asked her, quite respectfully, “There are so many people who are still hiding their sexual orientation. You’re intelligent, you’re educated, you’re investigative, yet it took you a long time to [realize you are a lesbian]. You don’t live in the backwoods, you don’t believe the myths about the gay and lesbian lifestyle being a choice. Yet, it took you so long. Why?”
Velez-Mitchell’s answer: “Denial is a powerful thing. The drumbeat of heterosexuality is strong, and before you know it, you’re swept up in its tide. Coming out is not an event, it’s a process.”
Everyone travels a different path in coming to terms with her sexuality. It’s always comforting to hear someone like Velez-Mitchell speak candidly about her difficulties and triumphs.
The second guest on the show was Barbara, a 39-year-old lesbian that began to question her sexual orientation after she’d undergone IVF to have a baby.
She told Dr. Phil, “I’ve never questioned this part of my identity before in my life, and I’ve gone through a lot of different issues and questioned a lot of other things, so for this to be something I’m questioning is a little troubling.”
The first thing Dr. Phil asked her was if she really is sexually attracted to men, or if she feels a societal pressure to get a husband and a white picket fence, so that her daughter can have a fulfilling life. She agreed that that was part of it, and Dr. Phil advised her to relax, and realize that, five months out of pregnancy, her hormones are still wacky, and maybe it’s probably not the best time to start questioning something you’ve known since you were 13.
However, he also said that if she was feeling an attraction to men, she didn’t have to close herself off to it. He introduced Denise Pin, from the American Institute on Bisexuality, and she gave a kind of insight we never get to see on TV:
Barbara was so obviously relieved by what Denise was saying that it made me wonder who puts more pressure on bisexuals: heterosexuals or the LGBT community?
Both Dr. Phil and Denise agreed that Barbara should try to spend this time getting to know and enjoy her baby. Dr. Phil cautioned her not to buy into the myth that a child needs a mother and a father to grow up properly. “A baby can have a normal, natural, fulfilling life with a single mother or with two mothers,” he told her.
The final guest was Meeka, mother who was “disgusted” when she found out her daughter was bisexual, and considered it a “fad, like a pair of shoes.”
Both Dr. Phil and Denise listened with compassion as Meeka described taking her daughter to a counselor and then leaving ten minutes later when the counselor agreed that she is bisexual. They applauded her for caring enough about her daughter to call into the show, but then they got real on her: Dr. Phil noted that gay teens are four times more likely to commit suicide than their peers. And gay teens who are rejected and isolated by their families are nine times more likely to commit suicide.
“Rather than focusing on what you want the truth to be,” Dr. Phil told her, “focus on what the truth is, and then educate yourself so you can have an intelligent conversation with your daughter, because at no time do you want to give her the impression that she’s not OK with you. “
You can watch clips of the show at DrPhil.com. If you can find the entire episode online, I’d recommend watching it. I’m usually not a fan of TV psychology, but I was pleasantly surprised with Dr. Phil’s knowledge and his fair assessment about bisexuality and the process of coming out.
Did anyone else catch Dr. Phil yesterday?