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Film and TV

New Netflix documentary tells the bittersweet story of a lesbian couple forced to keep their love secret for 60 years

Lily Wakefield April 23, 2020
A Secret Love: Netflix doc tells story of lesbians forced to hide their love

Terry Donahue and Pat Henschel met in 1947. (Netflix)

A Secret Love is a new Netflix documentary which follows the bittersweet lesbian love story of Terry Donahue and Pat Henschel, who were forced to keep their relationship a secret for six decades.

Produced by Ryan Murphy, the film was directed by the couple’s great-nephew Chris Bolan and will be released on the streaming platform on April 29.

Terry Donahue and Pat Henschel met in 1947, when Henschel was just 18, and Donahue was a 22-year-old catcher in the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League.

The league was the first-ever US professional baseball league for women, created during the Second World War to keep baseball in the public eye, and Donahue jokes in the film that she has always been a rule-breaker.

A Secret Love tells the story of Terry Donahue and Pat Henschel.

They fell in love, but were forced to keep their relationship a secret from everyone around them for their own safety, even tearing the names off the bottom of their love letters. The couple finally came out to their remaining family when Henschel was in her late eighties and Donahue was in her early nineties.

In A Secret Love, while Donahue’s family is supportive, Henschel discusses the fact that the majority of her immediate family never knew, and now never would. She said: “I loved my mother, but she would’ve disowned me.”

Three years after revealing they are a couple, the film follows them adjusting to being out and navigating getting older together, as they search for a retirement community, battle health problems and reminisce on their eventful past.

With plenty of footage and photos from their youth, it paints a haunting picture of LGBT+ life in America during the last 60 years.

Both heartwarming and tearjerking, their story will restore your faith in true love. As Donahue says in the film: “I think love is love and it’s the most important thing… I’m happy. No regrets – I’d do it all over again.”

The Netflix documentary A Secret Love will start streaming on April 29.

More: A secret love, All-American Girls Professional Baseball League, documentary, lesbian couple, netflix, Pat Henschel, Terry Donahue

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