Bai Ling Comes Out — as a Survivor
BY Diane Anderson-Minshall
July 11 2011 4:50 PM ET
Turns out VH1’s Celebrity Rehab With Dr. Drew may help 44-year-old Bai Ling in more ways than one. The bisexual actress is as famous for her off-screen antics as much as her roles on TV (Lost, Entourage) and films (The Crow, Nixon, recently playing a lesbian in Dim Sum Funeral). Ling, who is synonymous with “nipple slip” in some circles, admits she’s often used alcohol to boost her confidence in Hollywood.
“When I drink champagne, everyone is my friend,” she said on June 26's Celebrity Rehab season premiere. “I'm allergic to alcohol, I shouldn't even drink at all. I feel dangerous and scared and I need help.”
But her stint on Rehab has uncovered a deeper psychological issue: Ling, who became a soldier with the People’s Liberation Army when she was just 14, was sexually abused by Chinese army officers. She told the Associated Press that she was “opening a wound that was very secret to myself, that even my parents don’t know.”
Ling says she was pressured to have sex with her superiors, as were other women serving with her in Tibet. They were often plied with alcohol and her abuse that led her, on one occasion, to pregnancy and abortion.
No doubt Ling’s coming out as a sex abuse survivor on Rehab, which airs Sundays, will have an impact on the reception she gets in her homeland. Her appearance in the film Red Corner as a practical Chinese court-appointed lawyer has already made it difficult for the Chinese-American actress to return to her home country regularly. But, according to the Boston Herald, she blames individual officers, not the Chinese government, for her abuse, though Chinese culture may have had a hand in how she perceived her abuse: “Because of the Chinese culture of obedience, you don’t ask questions. ... You follow and obey.”
The actress is now hard at work on a book, Naked in Tibet, which many hope includes everything from her early days performing in Tibet to her film roles to all the wild behavior (shoplifting, claims she’s from the moon) that’s made her infamous in Tinseltown.
What some bisexual activists are now wondering is whether the media will erroneously link her past sexual abuse to her current sexual orientation, as has happened in the past with other individuals. Ling herself certainly hasn’t done so. She’s focused on recovery — and on helping others in the same situation.
“The only comfort is that I’m using this platform to help others,” she told the Herald. “I know that my story is so powerful and honest and so simple. Even if I can help one child and make them feel they haven’t been forgotten, that’s the only comfort I have.”