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Religious Tolerance logo

The "Dr. Phil" TV program & sexual orientation

Analysis of the "Shocking Mom
" episode of 2013-APR-01

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We use the acronym "SSM" throughout this section to represent "same-sex marriage"
We use the acronym "LGBT" to refer to lesbians, gays, bisexuals, transgender persons
and transsexuals. The acronym "LGB" refers to lesbians, gays, and bisexuals.

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In an episode of the TV program "Dr. Phil," titled "Shocking Mom Revelations," the second half of the show dealt with a mother-daughter conflict over sexual orientation.

Points raised during the episode:

  • The mother, "Diane" rejects her daughter's sexual orientation; to think of it makes her "sick to her stomach." She feels that everyone is born heterosexual, but that some choose to become homosexual. She likens it to drug addition or alcoholism. She feels that her daughter's lesbianism was caused by her joining a softball team as a child where she became the friend of a girl on the team. Diane feels that it was also caused by her daughter having been sexually molested as a child by her uncle. She feels that the latter event caused her daughter to shun men and feel safer with women. Her daughter's girlfriend is not welcome in her home. Diane feels that acceptance of the LGBT community is increasing because of media bias and the influence of Hollywood and the secular world. Together, they teach that homosexuality is OK and is normal.

She said:

"It is having society believe that it [Homosexual behavior] is healthy and normal, when millions die ... from HIV and AIDS. That is not what God intended. Just because a lot of people do it doesn't make it right."

This would have been an excellent time for Dr. Phil to intervene and clarify that sexually transmitted diseases are much rarer among lesbians than among heterosexuals. Unfortunately, he did not take that opportunity. However, he did read from a statement by the American Psychological Association in 1975 stating that homosexual is one of three normal and natural sexual orientations. Dr Phil: said:

"If you look at what we know [about homosexuality] that to just blatenly say this is not a normal thing for her to do is ignoring a vast body of information and reasearch that I think you should take into account. What if asking her to deny who she is and pursue a romantic relationship with a man -- what if that is unnatural to her as if we were going to take you and put you in therapy with the goal of having you having romantic feelings toward women. Can you even imagine that.

Diane answered "No."

Dr Phil: You would feel like a complete fraud, would you not?

Diane answered: Yes. But there are ex-homosexuals who have done that. I see that as proof that it is a choice."

Dr Phil: "I don't believe that there is any such thing as an ex-gay.

Actually, since conservative faith groups often define homosexuality in terms of behavior, many ex-gays can be found throughout North America. Some are persons with a bisexual orientation who, by definition, are attracted to both men and women, and who have simply decided to pursue romantic relationships with the opposite-gender. Others are persons with a homosexual orientation who have decided to become celibate. In both cases, their sexual orientation has not changed because their feelings of attraction have remained constant. Howeverm their behavior has changed. Thus they qualify for the descriptor "ex-gay" in the eyes of religious conservatives.

  • The adult daughter "Doreen" is a lesbian. She is engaged to be married to another woman. She appears to have internalized a great deal of homophobia. She believes that she was born with a homosexual orientation. She defines homosexuality as having sexual attraction only to members of the same gender; that is, by having a homosexual orientation. She is certain that her orientation is fixed. She feels ashamed about being a lesbian because of how it makes her mother feel, because of her religious upbringing, and because the Christian community rejects her. At one point in the program she said that she wished that her mother could have know that she would turn out to be a lesbian so that her mother could have aborted her before birth.

    Their terminology differed. To the mother, homosexuality is a chosen life style that was caused by her daughter joining a softball team as a child. To the daughter, she looks upon it as a part of something she is. She remembers feeling attracted to other girls before having become involved in the softball team.

    Doreen blames herself for being gay. Dr. Phil said:

    "What if blaming yourself for being gay is like blaming yourself for being tall?"

    As a teenager, she was caught kissing a girlfriend. She said: "That was my first relationship with a girl. It felt good. It felt real." She later denied it when challenged by her mother. She says that she lied because her faith group regarded it as sinful behavior.

  • Doreen's fiancée, Anna: She and Doreen have been in a relationship for ten years. Anna accused Diane of calling her fat, a slut, an uneducated wetback, and of saying that they will rot in Hell because of their behavior. She and Doreen have recently become engaged, but Doreen hasn't told her relatives because she fears that she will be disowned.

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Webmaster's comments:

Bias alert.

We have given this item detailed coverage because Dr. Phil has a wide following and has major influence over public beliefs. The four-way exchange among Dr. Phil, Diane, Doreen and Anna shows the intense personal tragedy arising from the current state of beliefs about homosexuality within conservative religious denominations and professional therapeutic organizations, like the American Psychological Association. Each of the two groups -- we call them "solitudes" -- firmly believe that they have an in-depth understanding of sexual orientation and that the other solitude is wrong.

Because there is little or no information interchange between them, their differences have never been harmonized. Yet there are major difference about almost every aspect of homosexuality. One or Many individual LGBTs and their friends and relatives reject the teachings of conservative faith groups; many of them leave in disgust. Many members of conservative faith groups reject the conclusions of the APA and similar groups. Some are extremely concerned about their family members spending eternity in the torture chambers of Hell because of their same-gender sexual behavior. Nobody benefits from the lack of dialogue between the two solitudes. Incredible levels of pain are created because the two solitudes are so lacking in empathy and caring that they refuse to dialogue. This is not the type of behavior we should expect of our fiath groups and mental health associations.

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Description of the episode on the Dr. Phil web site:

It is titled "A bridge of acceptance?"

"Diane says that she believes her 26-year-old daughter, Doreen’s, “gay lifestyle” is “devious” and believes that signing her up for softball was how it all started. “I believe that if I had not put her into softball, she may not have been gay,” she says.

Doreen says that softball didn’t make her gay. “It’s something that you’re born with; it’s not a choice.” She says, as a teen, she was caught kissing a friend. “That was my first relationship with a girl. It felt good. It felt real.”

Diane says she confronted Doreen, but her daughter denied it.

Doreen now says she denied it because she knew her Christian upbringing deemed it a sin.

“Doreen is gay and the thought of her lifestyle makes me sick to my stomach,” Diane says. “I believe that everybody is born straight. I believe homosexuals are similar to drug addicts, alcoholics, people who have addictions.” She continues, “I believe that Doreen can stop being gay. We will never accept homosexuality. In our home, that is not acceptable.” Diane says she doesn’t allow Doreen or her girlfriend, Ana, around their family. “We don’t believe that it’s healthy and normal.”

“My mom needs to know that this is who I am and who I was made to be,” Doreen says.

Diane reveals that Doreen was molested by an uncle, and believes her sexual orientation is a reaction to that.

Ana, Doreen’s girlfriend of 10 years joins the show. “I can’t imagine my life without her,” Ana says of Doreen.

“Ana has been nothing but a bad influence,” Diane says."

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References used:

The following information source was used to prepare and update the above essay. The hyperlink is not necessarily still active today.

  1. "Shocking Mom Revelations," Dr Phil show, 2013-APR-02, at:

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How you got here:

Home > "Hot" religious topics > Homosexuality & Bisexuality > Events > Dr. Phil > here

Copyright © 2013 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance.
First posted: 2013-APR-03
Latest update: 2013-APR-03
Author: B.A. Robinson
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