Velez-Mitchell juggled so many addictions that, she says, her sexual orientation was lost in the shuffle. Her last longtime boyfriend referred to her as a lesbian well before she herself did (they split in 2002). But this woman who made a living uncovering and articulating information couldn’t pinpoint what had made her so uncomfortable around other women all her life. “I never got to the point of ever using the word gay in my head,” she says. “Maybe it was all self-generated fear. I didn’t feel I had the freedom of choice that young people today have.”

If coming out at 51 is downplayed in the book relative to other issues, it’s because Velez-Mitchell believes that getting sober and becoming a vegan were the two best things she ever did. “Coming out was definitely right up there,” she says in a broadcast voice that’s as signature as her shag haircut. “Maybe I should have included it as a triad, but those two things allowed me to be compassionate with myself enough to recognize being gay.”

Today, she’s one of a breed of eco-nut who totes around reusable containers in a backpack. Even her choice of living with her 93-year-old mother is an opportunity for enlightenment: “We have to stop thinking in closed-structure thought processes, like the idea that you can’t live with your parents, or a businessman is not an artist, or that a waiter doesn’t have a Ph.D.”

The New York move means she must commute to Los Angeles to see “a very fabulous woman” (Velez-Mitchell wouldn’t divulge the details). Between those visits she instead wakes up with a pack of rescue dogs. “If Angelina Jolie can have all those children,” she says, “I can have three Chihuahuas.”

Tags: television