Homosexual characters figure prominently in Lily Torrence. Lily’s mentor, the glamorous and powerful Deborah Boynton, is a lesbian. Her ex-husband, Ted Hardy is gay. Was this an intentional lavender marriage, or just a willing blindness to reality on the part of two young and ambitious people? Ted was the bigger star when they were married, but Deborah would prove decisively more ruthless in her ambition.
Though utterly destroyed by shame and alcohol after their divorce,Ted has resurrected his career with the help of his iron-willed second wife, a strong faith, and a hit play. It’s not that he is “cured” of homosexuality, but that to indulge that appetite would be a betrayal of the woman who is now the center of his life. So he suppresses, and finds, the book hints, other outlets for his desires.
In my book, the characters are in the grip of their times, the 1930s and ‘40s. A 2017 reader has an entirely different frame of reference. Today there is a level of acceptance that simply did not exist back then. If you were a public figure, especially in Hollywood, you were not gay.
But, in a way, so what? After all, to be in the upper echelons of Hollywood, you had possibly already given up your name, your family history, your cultural background, your natural hair color or hair line. You may well have had sex you didn’t want to have, given up a child or a spouse, and betrayed the one friend or colleague you had sworn never to desert. After all that, the loss of one’s open expression of sexuality was perhaps a minor quibble, or in an overwhelmingly closeted world, maybe even a relief.