Ryan Buell , 2006 Penn State graduate, returned to his alma mater Thursday night to discuss his personal account of coming out as a bisexual man while in the public eye.
Buell gave his lecture, entitled “Faith, Spirituality, God & Sexuality: Coming Out While Starring in a TV Show,” in 100 Thomas Building to a captivated audience.
Buell, who is an established author, producer, director and paranormal investigator, founded the Penn State Paranormal Research Society as a college student. Now, Buell is the creator, producer and star of the hit A&E Network television show “Paranormal State” as well as executive producer of “American Ghost Hunter.”
In 2010, Buell published his memoir titled “Paranormal State: My Journey into the Unknown,” where he publicly came out as bisexual to the world.
The lecture dealt with an issue that has become controversial in our society over the years—the relationship between spirituality and sexuality—as well as the belief that faith and sexual orientation have an effect on one another.
Joseph Selden , assistant dean of multicultural affairs in the College of Communications, opened the lecture with a welcome to all those in attendance. Selden set the tone for the night, beginning with an excerpt from a speech given by President Barack Obama concerning the equal rights of gays and lesbians in the United States.
Selden posed the question “when is that day going to come?” to the audience—speaking about equality for all men and women; no matter race, gender, or sexuality.
Selden was followed up by Carmen Frost , office of multicultural affairs coordinator in the college of communications, who thanked the audience for participating in this “amazing lecture” and introduced Buell to the podium, calling him an “inspirational hero.”
Buell was greeted with a warm applause, as he rose from his seat and stood in front of the audience. He admitted to the audience that he did not speak very often about his sexuality. Even in his book, where he officially came out, his sexuality did not play a major role.
“It’s a 400-page book and I mentioned it in a page and a half,” Buell said to the audience.
Buell spoke candidly about his experience with coming to terms with his bisexuality and how his interest in the paranormal helped him in his journey.
His informal appearance and approach made the lecture more intimate and comfortable—as if he was talking to a friend and not an audience of college students.
“He really relates the paranormal with the rest of his life,” Ian Wolfe (junior-energy engineering) said. “It was a different approach to the [subject matter].”
Buell was very open with the audience with his life story. He interwove speaking about his sexuality, spirituality with his accounts concerning the paranormal. Though, he made a point that his search for the paranormal was not a metaphor for his sexuality.
The audience was riveted by Buell’s story throughout the entire lecture. His relaxed voice and tone kept the lecture from becoming too heavy, which is a feat with a topic so serious and a reality for some students.
“It was interesting,” Allyson McClure (junior-public relations) said. “I learned a lot.”
All donations contributed at the event will benefit the LGBT Student Resource Center and the College of Communications Office of Multicultural Affairs.