Season Premiere Follows Emotional Coming Out Stories of Two Gay Pastors
Iyanla Vanzant is back! The award-winning self-help series, Iyanla: Fix My Life returns to the OWN network on Saturday, September 19 at 9:00 p.m. ET/PT. In the three-part season premiere, Vanzant travels to Louisville, Kentucky to help two African American pastors, whose lives have been based on lies and deception, face their true identities and come out to their families and congregations. With her help, both Pastors take bold steps towards confessing their truth, after years of keeping their sexuality a secret from those they love.
Vanzant readily acknowledged that “this is probably one of our most controversial seasons and we’re starting it off with gay men in the Black church, come on now.” “I hope these episodes create conversations. We don’t have conversations anymore, we don’t ask questions, we just have opinions,” Vanzant said. “Imagine these people who love God, love the Lord, their church and community, are forced to live a lie so that everyone around them can we be comfortable. We know its true, its reality.”
On the new season of Iyanla: Fix My Life, viewers will meet Pastor Derek, who has spent years hiding his identity as a gay man and fears rejection from his family and parishioners if his true identity is revealed. Vanzant works with Derek to help prepare him to face his fears and the huge step of coming out to his family and church. Vanzant also introduces viewers to Pastor Mitchell who married, fathered children, and preached against homosexuality while concealing his string of affairs with other men. Vanzant works to help Mitchell understand that he can only move forward and undo the pain he’s caused if he is willing to make a full confession and live a life based in truth. “I didn’t deal with these pastors because they were gay, I dealt with them because they were living a lie. They came to me because they were tired of living a lie, Vanzant said.”
Vanzant, an executive producer of the show, is on a mission to share what she’s learned from her own life and training with those who appear on and watch the show. “My prayer is that the courage and bravery of these two Pastors will give other Pastors who are living this lie and suffering, the courage to come out of the shadows.” “Pastor Mitchell because he wouldn’t come out, married a woman and had children with her, and then went on the down low. God doesn’t want them to live like that. What kind of God is that…stop it,” said Vanzant. “My prayer is that many, many more Pastors will have the courage to stand authentically, and that their congregations will have the compassion to receive them. Even better, that these shows will spark a national conversation among Pastors and the ministerial community.”
Vanzant, a mother, survivor, empowerment orator, minister, two-time NAACP Image Award winner, and five-time New York Times best selling author will also tackle what women do to themselves in the name of beauty at the expense of their health and relationships. “I’m tired of the body shaming and dishonoring of women based on God given attributes that we cannot change. And we as women need to stop accepting it, participating in it, accommodating and tolerating it. We need to stop it,” Vanzant said.
We are going to tackle the “verbal, emotional, and physical violence that occurs between women.” “As we shame each other, we (women) give other people permission to do it. It is unacceptable that a male presidential candidate can discuss how masculine a female presidential candidate looks and nobody calls him out for it. He needs to apologize for that. It doesn’t matter her skin color, those comments should not have been made and it is our responsibility as women, to say to society, that those types of comments are unacceptable.”
Vanzant works hard to ensure that the focus of her work is on God alone and His blessings. “I don’t embrace the traps, I shop at Wal-Mart and keep it real!” “I jacked my life up with the choices that I was making, but when I started telling myself the truth, that I did that – my Daddy wasn’t alive when I did that, my mother didn’t have anything to do with that decision…I began taking responsibility and giving my life to God, and asking for his guidance.” When I started “hearing and receiving the guidance from God, I would be a fool to take credit for that, after I looked around at the mess that I made. He gave me the knowledge, strength, and courage to fix my own life. I know I am doing exactly what God would have me to do,” said Vanzant.
In the season finale, Vanzant speaks one-on-one with Olympic figure skater Debi Thomas who was the first African American to win a medal at the Winter Olympics. Thomas is now broke, jobless, and living in a bug-infested trailer. Vanzant wants you to tune in for the life lessons the show offer and to understand that we can “fix our lives” if we are willing to do the work “ and live better by loving ourselves.”
For more information on “Iyanla: Fix My Life, visit: www.oprah.com/iyanlafixmylife.