She's no

She's no

Author Terry
McMillan embodies the American dream. She’s rich and
successful, a best-selling novelist whose devoted fans have
made her books and movies commercial blockbusters.
When the film version of her 1996 novel How Stella
Got Her Groove Back
was released in 1998
starring Angela Bassett and Taye Diggs, everyone in the
world seemed to know that it was based on her romance with
Jonathan Plummer, a handsome Jamaican hotel employee
23 years her junior she met while on vacation in
Negril in 1995, when he was 20 years old. Her readers
vicariously celebrated this apparent fulfillment of their
own romantic hopes and dreams when McMillan married
Plummer in Maui in September 1998.

“I saw him
as being free of baggage,” McMillan says with
unintentional irony. “He was good to have
around. I wasn’t trying to mold him. I saw
goodness in the young man I met. He was young, but he knew
what he was doing. No one was twisting his

It all seemed too
good to be true. And of course, it was.

On October 4,
McMillan and Plummer’s seven-year
marriage—which had effectively ended, McMillan
asserts, on the night in December 2004 when Plummer
told her he was gay—was declared officially over. The
announcement ended nine months of ugly legal wrangling over
the couple’s ironclad prenuptial agreement.
More painful to McMillan, however, was the fact that
Plummer chose to take their divorce to the media, granting
interviews and going on Good Morning America
telling the world that he hadn’t known he was gay
when he married McMillan and that his wife had
attacked him in a “homophobic” rage when
he announced he was gay. [Repeated requests by The
for an interview with Jonathan Plummer,
made through his attorney, received no response by press
time.] He released transcripts of angry letters and
phone messages his wife had allegedly sent him, some
of which contained cruel language. McMillan claims
many of the messages were doctored, stating that Plummer and
his attorneys failed to produce the originals in

Now, in an
exclusive gay-press interview, McMillan says, yes, she
called Plummer a “fag” in a heated
moment but that it doesn’t make her homophobic.
“Jonathan knows how many gay and lesbian friends I
have had, both personally and professionally,”
she says. “In all the years we were together,
he never heard me use the word ‘fag’ or
‘faggot’ in referring to anybody. The
first time he heard me use that word was when I used it
to him. A lot of black women who read my books
couldn’t even understand why I was offended by
being referred to as a homophobe. Their attitude was
‘Who gives a shit what gay people think?’
Well, I do care. I have a lot of gay and lesbian
friends, and they knew I was offended. They knew that
the [generalizations] Jonathan said I’d made about
gay people were not true.”

The charge of
homophobia has outraged McMillan’s gay
friends—notably, prolific best-selling author
E. Lynn Harris.

full well, homophobic people, I would say that Terry is
absolutely not homophobic,” declares Harris, who has
been close friends with McMillan for years.
“She’s like my sister. I’m really
saddened that she’s had to go through this. And
then to be called homophobic as
well—it’s disgusting. If any of the statements
attributed to her are true, they were made in a moment
of rage.”

indicates she would have missed early signs of her
husband’s burgeoning homosexuality in the first
years of their relationship. “He was
young,” she says. “So there were things I took
to be lack of experience. In some ways, he was shy.
Sexually, he was pretty keen for a long time, but
after a while it got boring, and he seemed happy with the
way things were.”

Just prior to
their 1998 wedding, McMillan says, she became pregnant by
Plummer, though she miscarried shortly thereafter.
“Jonathan acted as though he was excited [by
the pregnancy], but I could tell he wasn’t,”
she says. “He was just scared about the whole

When their
relationship really started to deteriorate, McMillan says,
it was over issues of money. She claims she had been
planning to divorce him as early as May 2002, when she
discovered that he had taken large sums of money from
her checking account, something Plummer admits to in court

“I threw
his wedding ring off the bridge and said ‘I’m
divorcing you,’ ” she remembers.
“He did everything he could do to get back into
my good graces.” Plummer assured her that he would
make it up to her and pay her back but, McMillan says,
she was adamant that when she was finished with her
new novel she wanted a divorce. In June 2002, she
continues, Plummer presented her with a business plan for a
dog grooming enterprise that required a $150,000
investment, which McMillan provided with the intention
of making him financially independent. Over the next
two years the relationship continued to sour, as McMillan
noticed he was spending longer and longer hours at the

“I sensed
that Jonathan had another side to him and that it was one
that he might pursue if we ever split up,” she
says. She confronted him in December 2004. “I
said, ‘Jonathan, why don’t you tell the truth
about something for a change?’ He said,
‘You couldn’t handle the truth.’ I
said, ‘Why don’t you try
me?’ ” She was shocked when he announced
that he was “confused about his sexuality” and
was likely gay. Plummer assured her that he
hadn’t “done anything yet.” McMillan
didn’t believe him. “I started crying,
he started crying,” she says. “That night I
held him in my arms all night until 4 o’clock
in the morning, when I asked myself why I was feeling
sorry for him—he’d just told me he was gay and
he wasn’t interested in me.” She says at that
moment she pushed him away in bed.

McMillan believes
that making her feel sorry for him that night was a
deliberate ploy on Plummer’s part. “That
night,” she says, “I was dealing with
him as someone who I saw as suffering.” Then, she
adds, “I stepped outside of it.”

The next morning,
says McMillan, Plummer had left her a note thanking her
for “understanding about his true identity”
and hoping that someday she would find someone who
would love her as she deserved to be loved. Wounded by
what she saw as the blithe, preemptively dismissive tone of
the note, McMillan says, she went upstairs and opened two of
his cell phone bills. “There were 30 to 40
calls a day to the same number,” she says,
naming a male friend Plummer had met in Las Vegas at a pet
grooming convention who she says was presented as a
friend from the gym. She adds that many of the calls
were in the middle of the night when she was asleep.

“I called
this guy’s number, and he says, ‘Hi, this
is….’ ” McMillan recognized
the name. She went to Plummer’s place of business and
told him she wanted him out of the house. McMillan
says she installed Plummer in an apartment for three
weeks until he could find a place to live. Then she
went to a divorce lawyer on Christmas Eve.

What followed was
a gossip columnist’s wet dream of a he said/ she said
brawl. Plummer promptly sued for spousal support and to
overturn the prenuptial agreement in order to gain
access to what would have amounted to millions of
McMillan’s earned income. His contention was that he
had “no choice” but to sign it since it
was a deal breaker for marriage to McMillan. Plummer
further claimed that he’d been defrauded of money
owed him by McMillan for royalties promised him on the
income from How Stella Got Her Groove Back.

retaliated with a charge of marital fraud, asserting that
Plummer had married her knowing he was gay and had used her
to gain U.S. citizenship. McMillan claims Plummer
taunted her with the possibility that he’d had
unsafe sex with a boyfriend, all the while telling her she
“had nothing to worry about.”

He alleges that
she sent him a bottle of Jamaican hot spices with the
words "fag juice, burn baby burn" written on it.

She scoffs at the
“fag juice” story in particular. “I
don’t even write that way,” she says
witheringly of the clumsy expression. According to
McMillan, what she actually sent was a bottle of Jamaican
jerk chicken sauce, which Plummer had called
McMillan’s assistant to request. And what she
really wrote on the bottle, she says, was the word
appropriate, with an arrow drawn on the label
indicating that Plummer was the “Jamaican

But the barrage
clearly took its toll. “The way Jonathan chose to go
public and make the announcement that he was gay was done in
a manner that he thought would garner him sympathy and
make me look bad, by referring to me as a homophobe
based on my reaction to his announcement,”
McMillan says. “He has used so many tactics to get my
money, to garner sympathy for himself, to catapult
himself into the limelight. He made this very
high-profile when it didn’t have to be. He and his
attorney pimped me and my fame. They used it, and
that’s why we’re having this
conversation,” referring to her decision to grant
this interview to The Advocate. When asked if
she would have tried to get her groove back with
Plummer had she known at the outset he was at least
bisexual, McMillan is unequivocal.

wouldn’t have wanted to deal with a man who I knew
was having sex with both men and women,” she
admits. “Most people don’t want to share
someone they love with other people. My thing is this:
I know there are people who are bisexual, but he was
my husband. He wasn’t my boyfriend. He led me
to believe, right up to the end, that he loved me. When I
left the courtroom, I couldn’t look at him. I
couldn’t believe this was how it ended. Gay or
not gay, it didn’t have to end this way. We could
have been friends.”

Of her own
behavior, McMillan says, “I had told him,
‘Chances are, we will say things we will
regret. Later on, we won’t mean them.’ But I
wanted to sting him. To hurt him as much as I’d been
hurt. A heart that’s broken is a heart
that’s broken. There’s no color, age, or
sexual orientation on it.”

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