The name Jonathan Plummer may not immediately ring a bell, but the title "ex-husband of author Terry McMillan" might. Plummer married the How Stella Got Her Groove Back author in 1998but came out to her in 2004, leading McMillan to file for divorce the next year. The drama played out in public, with McMillan confronting Plummer in 2005 on The Oprah Winfrey Show (and a reconciliation on a 2010 show) as well as a lawsuit filed by McMillan, which she later withdraw.
Nowadays, Plummer hosts NoMoreDownLow.TV described as "a groundbreaking, one-of a-kind lifestyle and entertainment series dedicated to dispelling myths and stereotypes about same gender-loving people in the African American communitywith Janora McDuffie. Plummer (who said that he'd love to get married "gay" since he's been married "straight") talked with Windy City Times about the monthly web series as well as about the changes in his life.
Windy City Times: I know that your own personal life as been everywhere. How much of an emotional change do you feel you've gone through in, say, the past five years?
Jonathan Plummer: My coming-out process was very public, and I got a lot of backlash and criticism. But the thing is that everyone has their own way of coming out. It was a learning experience, and I learned a lot about getting to know myself and speaking my truth. It was a lot to go through, and I didn't have that much support until later, unfortunatelybut I had an amazing group of friends who were there for me.
Talking with people helped; I went to counseling for help through this whole journey and process. But I'm definitely in a better place, I've accepted myself and I'm taking life one day at a time and living it to the fullest, basically.
I'm more comfortable in my skin, and the good thing is that my ex-wife has accepted me for me. She's comfortable with my life and we talk about everything on a regular basis; everything is free-flowing right now. We're both in a great place.
WCT: NoMoreDownLow.Tv launched on National Coming Out Day (Oct. 11). Why was that?
JP: It was very monumental for us to do it that dayit speaks volumes. What we're trying to do is change the whole negative connotation of being in the closet, hiding. We want to bring a positive light. We're catering to the African-American [ LGBT ] community and other ethnic groups, and the heterosexual people who might be curiousthose who will say, "OK, we want to see what it's all about." Hopefully, they'll learn from this.
People who are struggling with their identity can go to this website and see people of color who are living their truth and living their lives to the fullest.
Everyone's journey is different. There is going to be some isolation but, eventually, you'll see a positive light.
WCT: And what have you learned about other people through this show?
JP: Everyone's journey is different and you have to accept them for who they are. It's an amazing thing to become comfortable in your own skin. I commend those people who knew when they were 5 years old as well as those who discover themselves in their 20s and 30s. I do want to say that it's very liberating your identity and sexuality. Some people think it's a lifestyle but it's my lifeit's part of who I am, and we're not settling. Life's too short.
WCT: I often say, "My life may have style, but it's not a lifestyle."
JP: Exactly. It's my lifeand I'm comfortable living it. I'm doing things the way I want to do it.
WCT: Oh, I know you are. I've seen some of those Facebook pictures.
JP: [ Laughs ] I know. I'm just having fun. I'm just living life.
We all say we want to do this, this and this. I'm in my 30s and I feel I'm in great shape. I wasn't able to do this when I was married; I didn't feel comfortable. Now, I'm embracing [ myself ] and I'm discovering my inner... What's the word I'm looking for?
WCT: Actually, it seems that you've discovered your inner Jonathan.
JP: Yes! It's self-discovery, basically. I'm trying to do different things and I'm experiencing different things.
WCT: Do you think any more A-list African-American actors or athletes will come out of the closet in the next 10 years or so? There's Wanda Sykes.
JP: I think so. It just takes one. Once they retire, they might come out or so, but they sometimes feel they have so much at stake right now that they don't. If [ an athlete ] comes out, other people are petrified, thinking, "Oh, I'm in the locker room with a gay man."
In a way, I don't blame them. If they're creative enough to do it on their own, I'll definitely commend them and be behind them with pompoms. [ Both laugh. ] I really would hope that people will be more forthcoming. At the height of their careersearning bazillions of dollarsthey really have nothing to lose. It would make other entertainers more comfortable with the idea of coming out.
What's interesting is that with women there is [ relatively little ] backlash.
WCT: Why do you think that is?
JP: I'm pretty sure that some people think that having two women together is taboo and hot.
WCT: You've talked about the issue of gay teen suicide on the show. What would you like to say about it?
JP: It really saddens me, and it [ takes ] me back to being in Jamaica and a conservative lifestylegetting married, having kids and having the house with the white picket fence. I had never seen same-sex relationships and relationships until we moved out to California. It just saddens me that differing beliefs lead people to take their own lives. I just wish that colleagues and other people educate others.
Thank God for shows like Glee, Modern Family and Brothers and Sisters, where you see positive gay imagesalthough you don't see African Americans on them.
WCT: There was Noah's Arc [a 2005-06 Logo show that focused on four African-American gay male friends].
JP: That was a great showloved it. I wish there were more shows like that on mainstream TV.
WCT: You wrote a book called Balancing Act [ a thinly veiled take on Plummer's own life ] . Is there a follow-up in the works?
JP: I think there might be. I am talking with Karen Hunter [ who co-wrote Balancing Act ] about possibly working on something next year.
WCT: You've talked about getting marriedand you are presently single. What are you looking for in a guy?
JP: I'd like someone with a kind heart, who's goal-oriented and who's easy on the eyes; I usually like older guys, and don't usually date men in their 20s. I'd like a good person who is comfortable with himself, because I'm out. If I want to kiss a guy on the cheek in public, I don't want him to shrink away. I'm out here in L.A. and there's perfection like crazy, but a lot of people seem empty.
The newest episode of NoMoreDownLow.TV features Pam Grier and MTV's Making His Band winner Jaila Simms, among others. Visit www.NoMoreDownLow.TV .