On January 31st, the Palm Beach Post published an article by the renowned author and journalist Scott Eyman about Double Life: A Love Story From Broadway to Hollywood, that my partner Norman Sunshine and I wrote about our 50-year relationship. (The book was reviewed in The Huffington Post by Shirley Lord).
We were so gratified that the Palm Beach Post article had managed to capture the essence of the book and our characters, as well as making clear why we had gone public with our lives: to try to show young people, as well as their elders, how a dignified, productive, long term loving life was possible between members of the same sex. The piece couldn't have been more respectful and admiring.
The day the paper came out, I was surprised when I went to the basement in our condo on the way to the swimming pool, to be greeted by the maintenance people who said, "Swell article." I hadn't anticipated that "public" meant public for everyone and not just the specific people we were trying to reach. It was made even clearer to me later in the day when I went to the local bookstore. In the summer, we live in Connecticut and our bookstore there has sold over 200 copies of our book in what is a tiny town. My friends in Palm Beach suggested I take a book to the bookstore here since they couldn't find one in the shop. I went over with Double Life and a copy of the Palm Beach Post and told the owner I would like to give him both for display in the shop. He replied as he quickly typed on his computer that he was familiar with the book.
"We've sold three copies and we've got two on order," he said.
"Would you like this one for display?" I asked. "I'm not trying to sell it; I want to give it to you."
"No," he said firmly.
I was rather surprised but I said, "Would you like the article from the paper that appeared this morning?"
"No," he said rudely and I turned and left the shop.
I told Norman about it as soon as I returned home and we both were startled that there was so much resentment, evidently, from the bookshop owner about our book. We then went online to see if Scott Eyman's article was on the Post's web site. We were delighted to find it and scrolled down to see if it was there in its entirety. It was, but we were stunned to find a comment from a reader at the end of it that I reprint here:
January 31, 2012 at 7:08 pm
"This article is a disgrace to the paper. You make these kind of people seem OK. The fact is these people are sick and do not belong in our society."
The following day the comment had disappeared but there were two others that were heartening:
February 1, 2012 at 10:52 am: "The response ("these people are sick and do not belong in our society") is one of the main reasons an article like this should be published. Thank you, Scott Eyman, for the excellent profile."
February 1, 2012 at 12:20 pm "It is the man who is sick. Isn't it a pity that these people feel free to spread their venom. It used to be African Americans or Jews, now it is gays -- as long as there is someone to hate. So much for not publishing hateful or offensive comments in your paper."
We have been so pleased with the positive response to Double Life and the progress that is being made in the fight for same sex marriage that we thought we were well on our way. But it only takes a jolt from one of the hate-mongers to remind us that the battle has just begun. It won't be won until we're all equal.