The Republic of T.

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How Stella Lost Her Damn Mind

Have you ever had a friend go through a messy divorce or break-up? At first, you’re sympathetic as you would be with anyone whose relationship has come to an end; especially a messy, painful end. Then you hear a bit more of the story and wince at some of the details. Okay, so your friend isn’t perfect, but disappointment and a broken heart will sometimes make people do things they wouldn’t if they were in their right minds.

The problem is, it doesn’t stop. The couple goes their separate ways, but you’re friend can’t let go. Next thing, you’re friend is leaving messages on the ex’s voicemail and making impromptu appearances at the ex’s workplace; leaving evidence of madness all over the place. It gets to the point where you’re embarrassed for your friend.

If this sounds familiar, you may be friends with Terry McMillan.

When last we left Terry, in July 2005, she was going through a very public, already bitter divorce from husband Jonathan Plummer; the inspiration for Terri’s bestselling novel, How Stella Got Her Groove Back. The marriage fell apart when Plummer revealed to McMillan that he was gay. Then Terry fell apart, revealing her ignorance by asking “How do you not know you’re gay”?

Now it’s 2007, and Terry has yet to exhale. She and Plummer are long since divorced. But what has Terry been doing since then? Has she written another book, and sold the movie rights? Has she moved on? No. She’s suing Plummer for $40 million.

Bay Area author Terry McMillan sued her ex-husband for $40 million Wednesday, saying that the now-openly gay man married her to get his U.S. citizenship and, along with his divorce lawyer, launched a smear campaign against her.

McMillan, author of “How Stella Got Her Groove Back” and other novels, also sued ex-husband Jonathan Plummer’s lawyer, Dolores Sargent of San Ramon, saying she was part of a plan by Plummer to secure money to which he was not entitled.

In the suit, filed in Contra Costa County Superior Court, McMillan says that Plummer and Sargent knew the arguments they used to attempt to nullify the couple’s prenuptial agreement were false.

McMillan filed for divorce from Plummer, her husband for 6-1/2 years, in 2005 after he disclosed that he was gay and had been cheating on her. The divorce sparked a bitter court fight, including restraining orders filed by both parties. Plummer asked for spousal support as part of the divorce, McMillan told The Chronicle in January, but ended up receiving just $28,000, plus $27,000 for his attorney.

Keep in mind, now, that McMillan is still a best-selling author (as far as the record books are concerned anyway). Plummer is currently working as a hairdresser in Danville, CA. Plummer ain’t got $40 million and Terry ain’t got much sense if she thinks he does. Of course, she knows that. Just last year she said “I want to sue him but he doesn’t have any money.” If anything, she got the better end of the deal in the divorce. She apparently got to keep nearly of her money, minus the $400,000 that went to her own lawyers.

But what’s mystifying is McMillian’s claim that Plummer and his attorney portrayed her in an unflattering light. But if McMillan’s handing out lawsuits for that, she might want to figure out how to sue herself. The first I heard of Terry’s latest lawsuit when I read about it at Jasmyne’s. And Jasmyne recalls that McMillan’s own behavior didn’t flatter her much.

Now if I recall, when all of this went down, Terry wasn’t the nicest of people about the whole situation. In fact, in interviews she was downright mad and did a little “smearing” of her own against her ex-hubby. She too was accused of violating the restraining order by her e-husband, including leaving a jar of red hot peppers at his job labeled as “penis juice,” and a bottle of Jamaican pepper sauce where she wrote the words “Fag. Juice Burn Baby Burn,” among other things.

Plummer said that McMillan has tormented him in a series of vitriolic letters, one of which concluded, “I wish I had never met your sneaky ass. I wish I had never married you. I do hate you Jonathan…And I hate all the Fags out there like you who use women to hide behind so that you can walk the streets of America without a care in the world…you’re a Fag alright.”

In fact, McMillan’s antics sound like something right out of one her her books, or the screenplays based on them, like some of Bernadette’s scenes in Waiting to Exhale.

Then there’s Terry’s transcribed phone message over at The Smoking Gun.

In one court filing, Plummer, 32, included transcripts of profanity-laced messages left last year by McMillan on his answering machine. McMillan refers to her ex as a “little fag” who is a “common fucking criminal, a common extortionist.” She also claims to have contacted the FBI about purported crimes committed by Plummer and discussed matters with former President Bill Clinton and congresswoman Maxine Waters.

You know, I can just see Maxine and Bill giving their aides the “get-me-the-fuck-away-from-this-crazy-woman-right-now!” look.

And that’s just what’s been revealed thus far. Terry has just opened the door to have all her dirty laundry and personal nastiness laid out in public. And foot the bill through her legal fees. Almost everyone had forgotten about their little drama at this point. Now she’s brought it all back to life. Seems like she’s been stewing over it while the rest of the world moved on. If she’d spent that time writing another book, she’d be getting much better publicity right now and probably making at least a few million from her own work.

But money can’t buy class. Not even $40 million that she’s never going to get anyway. Somehow I think this is going to end up making her (even) less of sympathetic figure. (Already the commenters on this EUR post are not feeling Terry, even though they’re not sympathetic towards Plummer, and the consensus seems to be that Terry needs to move on.) Now she just looks bitter, and not bright enough to know there ain’t a hairdresser in the world pulling down $40 million, let alone a hairdresser in Danville, CA.

Does she know that some shades of limelight are not flattering? Does she have a publicist? One who’s not comatose or on crack? Because I can’t imagine a publicist worth his or her paycheck would put up with a client behaving like that in public. Of course, there’s also the likelihood that this whole business is Terry buying publicity for her next book. She claimed last year that she was working on one

I can’t begin to imagine what that situation is like for either spouse. I was fortunate enough to know early on that I was gay, so I never saw the point in going through the motions of heterosexuality. I was also fortunate enough not to grow up in Jamaica. Not that Georgia, during the Reagan era, was a walk in the park, but it wasn’t what some have called the most homophobic place on earth.

Brian wears sunglasses to hide his gray and lifeless left eye—damaged, he says, by kicks and blows with a board from Jamaican reggae star Buju Banton. Brian, 44, is gay, and Banton, 32, is an avowed homophobe whose song Boom Bye-Bye decrees that gays “haffi dead” (“have to die”). In June 2004, Brian claims, Banton and some toughs burst into his house near Banton’s Kingston recording studio and viciously beat him and five other men. After complaints from international human-rights groups, Banton was finally charged last fall, but in January a judge dismissed the case for lack of evidence. It was a bitter decision for Brian, who lost his landscaping business after the attack and is fearful of giving his last name. “I still go to church,” he says as he sips a Red Stripe beer. “Every Sunday I ask why this happened to me.”

Though familiar to Americans primarily as a laid-back beach destination, Jamaica is hardly idyllic. The country has the world’s highest murder rate. And its rampant violence against gays and lesbians has prompted human-rights groups to confer another ugly distinction: the most homophobic place on earth.

In the past two years, two of the island’s most prominent gay activists, Brian Williamson and Steve Harvey, have been murdered — and a crowd even celebrated over Williamson’s mutilated body. Perhaps most disturbing, many anti-gay assaults have been acts of mob violence. In 2004, a teen was almost killed when his father learned his son was gay and invited a group to lynch the boy at his school. Months later, witnesses say, police egged on another mob that stabbed and stoned a gay man to death in Montego Bay. And this year a Kingston man, Nokia Cowan, drowned after a crowd shouting “batty boy” (a Jamaican epithet for homosexual) chased him off a pier. “Jamaica is the worst any of us has ever seen,” says Rebecca Schleifer of the U.S.-based Human Rights Watch and author of a scathing report on the island’s anti-gay hostility.

You can find the lyrics to “Boom Bye Bye” as well as a video of Buju Banton performing the song here.

Anyway, this is the Jamaica where Jonathan Plummer grew up. And this is the Jamaica where McMillan wanted to send him after she found out he was gay; where popular music advocates executing gays and where people actually fear that Elton John’s music will make them gay. Just last month Rod covered the story of a lynch mob of 2,000 Jamaicans attacking three gay men.

THREE men branded as homosexuals were yesterday rescued by the police from an angry mob outside a pharmacy in Tropical Plaza, where they had been holed up for almost an hour.

But even after the police managed to take the young men from the Monarch Pharmacy, one of the three was hit with a stone, forcing officers to fire tear gas on the crowd which included men, women, teenagers and small children.

The approximately 2,000 people gathered outside the Kingston pharmacy hurled insults at the three men, with some calling for them to be killed.

The crowd grew larger as the minutes ticked by and the three men and staff inside the pharmacy were visibly terrified as the mob demanded that they be sent out so they could administer their brand of justice. “Send them out!” shouted one man.

… One woman expressed surprise at the brazenness of the men who were clearly displaying effeminate behaviour.

“Jamaica has lost its way if men think they can openly flaunt being gay without any consequences. We don’t want that kind of open gay life in this country,” the woman said.

McMillan claims that Plummer knew he was gay when he marries her. Plummer claims that he was repressing his sexuality when he met McMillan. Given all of the above, that was most likely a survival mechanism in a place where being gay can get you killed. That’s something that didn’t seem to register on Terry or Oprah when the couple appeared on the show to talk about their divorce. Terry felt Jonathan was making excuses, and that he always knew he liked men but never “‘fessed up.” Oprah went on about the importance of being honest about sexuality and how “the truth will set you free,” seemingly oblivious to the fact that where Plummer comes from the truth will get you killed, if you’re gay.

Meanwhile, Terry may have another book coming out, but if the main character is based on her, she won’t be a very sympathetic character. Lop off that first syllable in “sympathetic” and it’s a bit closer to the reality. As it stands, Terry won’t get $40 million, won’t get over Jonathan, and probably won’t get a man until she does. But she’ll probably write yet another book on that theme.

At this point, if Terry was the fictional friend introduced at the beginning of this post, you’d probably screen her calls.

I know I would. After all, we’ve heard her story before. And seen the movie.

3 Comments

  1. I’ve pasted the below from MediaBistro’s Galleycat:

    There’s a new cycle of anthologies hitting the stores, and Warner Books’ The Honeymoon’s Over: True Stories of Love, Marriage, and Divorce has a doozy of a contribution in the form of Terry McMillan’s “100 Questions I Meant to Ask Him,” him being the ex-husband who decided he’d rather have sex with men than her (pictured at right in happier times, when girlfriend was completely oblivious). At the time, you may recall, she reacted somewhat poorly, informing her ex that “you’re going to make a great fag” because “most of you guys are just like dogs anyway.” Now she’d like to tell him (and, by extension, you), “You didn’t really think of me as a homophobe because I called you all of the ‘F’ words I could, did you? Don’t you understand this was the only weapon I had?”

    Herewith, then, we present more evidence of McMillan’s enlightened, non-homophobic attitudes:

    * “Was Vince [her ex’s lover] just jealous of me because I was your wife and I was a woman and I was pretty and black and rich and famous? Does he hate all women because he’s jealous he isn’t one?”
    * “Why do men like Vince try so hard to act like women, and why do men like you like them so much?”
    * “Why are most gay men so gorgeous? There also seems to be a kind of narcissism inherent in your behavior because there is clearl an obsession with your looks, your bodies, and body parts? What is this about?”
    * “Have you been surprised by the promiscuous behavior of a lot of gay men? Are you going to be like this or are you already?”
    * “Do you know all of the men you’ve had sex with? Can you count them?”
    * “Why do so many gay magazines and books focus on cruising, bondage, sex: any-way-you-can-get-it, S&M, looks, beautiful bodies, etc., etc., with very little or no attention given to how to achieve or maintain healthy relationships?”

    The best part is how she follows up that last bit with, “I’m not trying to stereotype…” In addition to these oh-so-non-hompohobic questions, you have to wade through a lot of bathetic self-pity about whether her ex’s boyfriends give better head than she did and how she still loves him so much the thought of him kissing another man makes her nauseous, but she wants you to know she’s moving on—though she’d still like him to explain the chlamydia-like infection she’s acquired down there. At least there’s twenty-three other women to choose from in the collection with somewhat saner stories to tell. (So when’s the men’s version coming?)

  2. Pingback: What I’m Reading When I’m Not Busy Doing Twelve Zillion Other Things at Faux Real

  3. If you’re still looking for love at 40 something, you probably don’t know what it is. If you’re searching for it that far out of your age group, ‘more’ probably. If you couldn’t hear the sirens blaring with this, … you may not be capable of love yourself. I’m not turned on by kids. I have always been turned on by my age group, and I’m 55. My fav actors Christopher Walkins, Jeremy Irons, Tom McCamus Howard Rollins, Brian Dennehy, … the younger ones do zero for me, and I mean absolute zero. M

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