'Stella' Inspiration Breaks Silence

ByABC News via logo

July 12, 2005— -- Before Demi Moore and Ashton Kutcher, Terry McMillan popularized the idea of women dating younger men with her best-selling book "How Stella Got Her Groove Back."

The 1996 novel, which was made into a movie starring Angela Basset and Taye Diggs, was inspired by McMillan's real-life romance with Jonathan Plummer. McMillan met Plummer when she was on vacation in Jamaica in 1995. She was 42, he was 20. The couple married in 1998.

But now McMillan's fairytale romance has come crashing down around her in a way the author never imagined. In December, Plummer revealed he is gay, and in January McMillan filed for divorce.

"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," McMillan says in court papers. "I was humiliated."

McMillan is claiming Plummer knew about his sexuality and intentionally deceived her for money and American citizenship. Plummer says he did not know that he was gay at the time he married McMillan and is seeking spousal support and the voiding of the prenuptial agreement that waves his right to that support.

Plummer told his story exclusively to "GMA."

"I married her [McMillan] because I truly loved her," Plummer said, adding he was not aware of McMillan's fame when the couple met.

"Authors aren't celebrated in Jamaica as they are here," Plummer said. "… I didn't initiate anything. She's the one that spoke to me.

"I was having breakfast and [she] just … asked me, 'Are you a rapper?' Just like in the movie, 'Stella,' exactly. Everything happened that way."

In "Stella," McMillan writes of the character based around Plummer, "He is looking at me so innocently, I accept the fact that this isn't some kind of come-on … Sincerity is written all over [his] face."

Looking back, Plummer says that confusion was also part of his expression.

"I was naïve," Plummer said. "I didn't know who I was and she asked me to leave my job, family and friends to live with her. We fell in love with one another. But in the past 2½ years, I realized there was something wrong here. I didn't have an inkling before."

McMillan tells a different story.

"I believe that Jonathan has always known that he is gay," she said in her court declaration. "By his own declaration, Jonathan repeatedly admits to being aware of his sexual orientation before we were married. Specifically, he admits that he 'had been experiencing conflicted feelings about my sexuality for some time …' and that he had suppressed his feelings for 28 years."

Plummer says he was faithful to McMillan for all 6½ years of their marriage, and although he registered on a gay dating Web site, it was just to look. He said McMillan has harassed him since he came out about his sexuality.

"She's came at my job numerous times, unannounced, yelling at me in front of clients," Plummer said. "And she's calling myself and my lawyer low-life scums."

"Ms. McMillan … deeply regrets the fact that Mr. Plummer continues to attempt to exploit this situation for his own personal gain," said Judy Smith, a spokeswoman for McMillan. "If Mr. Plummer truly wanted to resolve this matter he would not be behaving in this manner …"

Plummer's lawyer, Dolores Sargent, said Plummer is seeking to void the prenuptial agreement because he "executed it without really understanding the terms" and is also owed money because "How Stella Got Her Groove Back" is his story as well as McMillan's.

The prenuptial agreement guarantees Plummer 10 percent of the royalties from the book, movie and soundtrack of "Stella." He said he received $150,000.

On June 17, Plummer won a minor victory when a Superior Court judge ordered McMillan to pay Plummer $2,000 a month in spousal support, plus $25,000 in attorney's fees until a full trial on the validity of the prenuptial agreement and the annulment request is heard in mid-October.

"I mean I'm not asking for a lot," Plummer said. "I'm not being greedy."