Paranormal State returns after its star came out as bisexual

A&E Paranormal State, one of the roughly 215,933 ghost hunting reality series currently on cable, returns for its fifth season Sunday. The series follows the Pennsylvania State University Paranormal Research Society, and its founder and series star Ryan Buell recently came out as bisexual in his book.

In Paranormal State: My Journey into the Unknown, co-written with Stefan Petrucha, Buell gives behind-the-scenes information about some of his cases from the show, and also talks about how he started to investigate paranormal activity and found the organization.

In the book, he writes in-depth about his sexual orientation and how it’s affected his work (a fellow investigator told some priests about Buell’s sexual orientation, and they stopped working with him), reconciling it with his faith, and his dad’s judgment (“No son of mine will ever be gay. He’d be out the door and I’d never talk to him again.”) Buell writes that a fan’s note prompted him to come out:

“I received an e-mail from a young man who told me that he was gay, and wondered if he was going to hell. ‘Since you deal with spirits, have you ever come across evidence that suggests that they do go to hell or they are in torment?’ This broke my heart. We humans can be so cruel to one another, but the teachings of Jesus Christ are that of love and compassion. I’ve decided to share my sexuality and struggle over faith in hopes that others will no longer feel that they are alone or that they can’t be religious.”

Ryan discusses all this in-depth with After Elton. Like other gay reality stars who have responded to recent gay teen suicides, he said, “I’m so tired of seeing kids who commit suicide on the news. I’m a private person. I didn’t want to come out. It’s not that I’m scared or ashamed — I’m not. It’s just I’m a private person and I don’t want to share these things about myself. It was scary to come out.”

about the writer

Andy Dehnart is a journalist who has covered reality television for more than 15 years and created reality blurred in 2000. A member of the Television Critics Association, his writing and criticism about television, culture, and media has appeared on NPR and in Playboy, Buzzfeed, and many other publications. Andy, 36, also directs the journalism program at Stetson University in Florida, where he teaches creative nonfiction and journalism. He has an M.F.A. in nonfiction writing and literature from Bennington College. More about reality blurred and Andy.