Commentary: 'Stella' Author Terry McMillan

Author Terry McMillan has recently learned that her husband, the inspiration for her book How Stella Got Her Groove Back, is gay, and now she's seeking to have her marriage annulled. Some have called McMillan naive for marrying a younger man from another country. Commentator Betty Baye warns against judging McMillan. Baye is a columnist with The Courier-Journal in Louisville, Ky.

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ED GORDON, host:

Author Terry McMillan is seeking to have her marriage annulled after learning that her husband, Jonathan Plummer, is gay. Plummer is the Jamaican native who inspired McMillan's novel, "How Stella Got Her Groove Back." His revelation has led McMillan to conclude Plummer married her only to obtain US citizenship. Commentator Betty Baye offers her perspective on the situation.

BETTY BAYE:

I'm feeling Terry McMillan. I'm feeling her hurt, her shame, her embarrassment at the discovery that her fine, young Jamaican husband of six and a half years is gay. Jonathan Plummer swears that he didn't realize his sexual orientation until recently. He was just 20 when they met while McMillan was vacationing in Negril. Plummer now claims that he was too young then to really know where he was at sexually.

Forgive my skepticism. The first words out of the mouth of a gay friend in LA were, `Oh, please, Ray Charles and Stevie Wonder could see that that boy is gay.' Perhaps. Whatever the case, Terry McMillan is a laughingstock. How could she not have known? How could she have dared to believe that a man 23 years her junior could actually have fallen in love with her? Who does Terry McMillan think she is? Halle Berry?

Laughs aside, though, my mother was right about this: One must be careful what she envies. And a lot of women were openly envious of Terry McMillan. They lusted for what she seemed to have found and told the world about in her steamy novel and the movie that followed, "How Stella Got Her Groove Back."

A lot of middle-age women dream they be pursued and wooed by a fine young man. Some of those same women say now that they aren't sympathetic to McMillan or her husband. Each was looking to get over on the other. McMillan needed a cure for her loneliness, and young Plummer needed a way out of Jamaica and saw a chance to get his hands on a honey pot of gold.

Honestly, though, how many women can say that they've never been fooled or felt like a fool for loving or trying to love a man? Moreover, if we can believe J.L. King, author of "On the Down Low," a lot of women are walking around in Terry McMillan's shoes; they just don't know it yet, or they know it but aren't ready to face that their husbands, live-ins, boyfriends or fiances are on the down low. They're men who are having sex with men on the side.

Don't judge Terry McMillan too harshly. Your bad news may come in the morning. And to Terry McMillan, I say this: You made a mistake. So what? You let your heart lead your head. So what? You bet on love and you lost. So what? It's going to cost you some money to get rid of this boy. So what? You've got it like that.

And finally, from one woman of a certain age to another, what I know for sure is that no matter how painful it is, living in the truth is an infinitely better place to be than to be living in a lie.

GORDON: Betty Baye is a columnist with The Courier-Journal in Louisville, Kentucky.

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