Terry McMillan & Ex Fight on Oprah
Plummer and McMillan
Kathy Hutchins/Hutchins Photo
How Stella Got her Groove Back author Terry McMillan looking and sounding irate for the better part of the hour she spent on Wednesday's The Oprah Winfrey Show, aired her marital bed's dirty laundry for the talk-show audience with her gay ex-husband at her side.
"I always thought Jonathan was not the most masculine man that I had been with," McMillan, 54, said of Jonathan Plummer, who inspired the novelist's 1996 bestseller and subsequent 1998 movie starring Angela Bassett as a San Francisco professional woman who falls for a much younger man while vacationing in Jamaica.
McMillan told Winfrey that she never suspected that Plummer, 30, might have been leading a double life, because "all men aren't masculine. He wasn't effeminate."
To her ex she said on the show: "You didn't say anything about being gay. You said everything but that."
"I did expect her to be upset," Plummer replied, repeatedly, often leading to catcalls from the audience. He said that he only realized he was gay in the final two years of the couple's 6 1/2-year marriage, and considered his coming out to be a brave act, considering that in his native Jamaica homosexuality is strictly taboo.
In her divorce papers filed on May 19 in California's Contra Costa County Superior Court, McMillan contended that Plummer married her only to get his U.S. citizenship after the two met at a Jamaican resort a decade ago. "It was devastating to discover that a relationship I had publicized to the world as life-affirming and built on mutual love was actually based on deceit," she said in court papers. "I was humiliated."
Though reluctant to sift through the details, McMillan told PEOPLE this past June 21 that Plummer has moved out of her six-bedroom home in the Bay Area suburb of Danville. "Let's put it this way," McMillan told the magazine. "My husband and I are not going to be married anymore."
In response the divorce papers, Plummer maintained McMillan treated him with "homophobic" scorn bordering on harassment since he came out to her as gay just before Christmas. (Possibly as a result of all the publicity, McMillan has landed on the just-published list of Out magazine's 100 most influential people in gay culture – in the Hall of Shame column.)
In his legal papers, Plummer asked the court to set aside a prenuptial agreement that would prevent him from receiving spousal support.
Asked by Winfrey why he sued, Plummer refused to comment, saying he didn't want to "restir things right now."
But while the two argued during much of the show, questioning each other's account, they said they are now approaching reconcilement. "I regret hurting her," said Plummer, who also said that he has no one in his life right now.
McMillan acknowledged, "I think that Jonathan did love me, because you can't fake this stuff."