Paranormal investigator, director, producer, author and Penn State alumnus Ryan Buell returns to campus tonight to discuss coming out as bisexual while starring on a hit TV show.
Buell, Class of 2006 , founded the Paranormal Research Society as a student and later created, produced and starred in the A&E Network television show “Paranormal State.”
The lecture, called “Faith, Spirituality, God & Sexuality: Coming out While Starring in a TV Show ,” will take place at 8 p.m. in 100 Thomas .
“I usually speak either about filmmaking or my adventures looking for unexplained phenomenon, but this is a bit more personal,” Buell said.
The talk will deal with the controversial subject of how sex and spirituality come into play in the modern world, Buell said. He hopes to challenge the notion that people cannot believe in God if they are gay.
“I am not trying to disprove or prove what God thinks about gays, just like I do not try to prove the existence of the paranormal,” Buell said. “But there is nothing that shows that God absolutely hates gay people. Quotes from the Bible are taken out of context.”
Buell will also talk about the stigma of being out as a public figure, he said. When Buell came out in his book, “Paranormal State: My Journey into the Unknown,” it was unheard of for a male public figure to be bisexual, he said.
“It was only one page in a 400-page book, but suddenly it was on CNN and E! News,” Buell said
Bisexuality is an identity that is still widely misunderstood, Brianna Serrano , graduate assistant at the LGBTA Student Resource Center, said.
Bisexuality can be difficult to understand because people often assume that someone can only be gay or straight, Serrano said. People tend to categorize bisexuals as confused or “bi now but gay later,” she added.
“In reality, sexual identity is based on attraction, not behavior,” Serrano said.
The admission price for the event is a suggested donation of $5 for students and $10 for the general public at the request of Buell.
“We were planning to provide an honorarium to him, but he forfeited it in favor of having people donate to the cause that he believes in, which is equal rights for all,” Carmen Frost, the multicultural affairs coordinator for the College of Communications, said.
The donations will benefit the LGBTA Student Resource Center and the Office of Multicultural Affairs in the College of Communications.
Buell said that he made it to where he is today with the help of Penn State, and that it wouldn’t seem right to take money for the lecture.
“I am already getting something out of this,” Buell said. “This is me paying back Penn State –– I didn’t just take the diploma and run.”
Not only people interested in LGBTA issues will benefit from Buell’s talk, Frost said. People who want to go into business, broadcasting or journalism could benefit greatly from seeing the success of an alumnus, she added.
“[Buell] went from graduating with a degree in journalism to having his own A&E series on his own without anyone’s help,” Frost said. "He is a dear friend and a wonderful individual, and we look forward to his lecture and to welcoming him back to Penn State."
Buell says that his discussion is not meant to be confrontational or aggressive, but instead it is meant to highlight commonalties between all people.
“You have a lot of insecure people who want to criticize what they don’t understand,” Buell said. “In this massive universe full of amazing, beautiful people, who someone chooses to love is not that big of a deal.”