Doris Day was a huge supporter of the LGBTQ community, as we would discover when she stood flat footed by her good friend and frequent film co-star Rock Hudson. Rock spent decades hiding his authentic self for fear of torching his career as a Hollywood heartthrob. Something, we would all discover was the case for many leading men in Hollywood during that era and carrier over for decades to follow. So, when you hear her singing “Secret Love” and saying “…at last my heart’s an open and and now my secret love’s not a secret anymore” tells you everything you need to know about Pat and Terri.
Directed by Chris Bolan and produced by Alexa L. Fogel, Brendan Mason and Ryan Murphy, ‘A Secret Love’ shares an incredible love story between Terry Donahue and Pat Henschel, whose relationship spanned nearly seven decades. Terry played in the women’s professional baseball league, which inspired the hit film ‘A League Of Their Own.’ What we didn’t know until now is the real-life story of these two women who remained in the closet. Now, the audience gets to follow these extraordinary women to when they first met through their professional lives in Chicago, coming out to their conservative families and contemplating with whether or not marriage is viable option for them during this chapter in their lives. Now, faced with the hardships of aging and illness, their love proves resilient as they enter the home stretch.
Being treated ‘different’ simply based on the virtue of my gender and race are bad enough. I can only imagine what it must feel like to love someone so deeply and have to hide it because the type of love you share isn’t ‘accepted.’ Why do we live in a world that is so swift to pass judgment. It makes me angry and immensely sad simultaneously. Listening to Terry and Pat talk about going out of their way to look ‘lady like’ for fear of being arrested back in the late 40’s breaks my heart. Not to mention, that although Terry’s family seems accepting, in the same breath, they blame Pat for isolating to hide her sexuality.
Being someone completely obsessed with A League of Their Own, I was riveted as Terry reminisced about being scouted and playing for the All-American Girl Baseball League sharing there was one doll who stole 201 bases in one season! What??!! Terry was getting paid to ball with the best from the US, Canada and Cuba for four years laying the foundation for female athletes to follow decades later like Venus and Serena Williams, as well as, a young Mo’ne Davis – who was the first African-American girl to play in the Little League World Series.
At then end of the day, the heart wants what it wants. How beautiful is it when you finally have the opportunity to live and love unapologetically not not give a flying fig what anyone thinks. Kudos Pat and Terry – may your hearts continue to soar and sing.