Interview with Patricia Cornwell

AE: I want to shift gears here and talk about how a few years ago you were outed —
PC: Let me just say this, because I think it’s really important that people understand. The quote outing was done in the mid-nineties and it sort of happened because of this FBI case that became high profile and it came out that I’d had a relationship with someone, which I did not deny.

But at the time it was just that I had never been asked. That got [put] upon me because somebody dragged me into a case that I really should not have been part of and I think they did it for attention. But before that, I just had never been asked. I never had a journalist who said, "Are you gay?"  I certainly wouldn’t have lied.

It’s been much more vocal in recent years because it came out in the news that I was married. That came out because of a lawsuit where I had to sue this person who’d been stalking me for over a decade now, a cyber stalker, and part of that court case revealed that I am married to Staci.

To tell you the truth, we hadn’t even talked to our families. It was very private. We did not make a big deal about it not because we’re trying to hide something, but we’d been living together for several years and we just wanted it to be private. That’s why that came out and the press picked up on it and started asking about my marriage. I’ve always answered questions that people asked, it’s just that a lot of times they don’t ask.

AE: When this news did become public, did you have any concerns about how your fans would react?
PC: No. I knew it was going to become public because my lawyer said, “I want to be able to say this in the lawsuit because this is a fact about your life,” and I said, “That’s fine.” We hadn’t hid it, but we didn’t make a big fanfare about it. It was something between the two of us.

I can’t worry about what my fans think because there are going to be some who think that it’s the coolest thing ever and there might be some who will never buy a book again. I’m sure I’ve lost as many fans as I’ve gained and maybe gained as many as I lost, but it’s impossible for me to know.

Staci Gruber and Patricia Cornwell

I’m quite certain there would be some people who would stop buying my books if they hate all things gay and they might have stopped buying them even because of Lucy. It’s one of those things that I can’t measure. I know that my sales have been very strong and in fact they’re bigger now I think than ever, but does that mean they might not be even bigger? I don’t know.

Again, I try to be honest in every aspect of my life, even in my fiction I am telling the truth in my own way, so I really do not sit there and think, if I do this am I going to offend somebody and they won’t buy my books anymore?

But has it had an affect? I dare say it’s quite possible there are things I don’t get invited to, [laughs] and maybe there’s some things I do get invited to. People usually aren’t quite so cheeky as to say, “We’re not going to invite her to do this lecture because we don’t like gays.”

I would tell anybody in this situation that you’ve got to be true to yourself. In terms of my public personae and being honest about who and what I am, it isn’t really just about protecting me it’s about protecting humankind.

If we lie about these things, what we’re saying to people who are like us is, “You should feel shame and you should hide too.” And what we’re saying to other people is, “It’s okay to persecute us so we’re just going to hide behind a rock.” We can’t do that. It’s perpetuating something that’s downright evil.

AE: Do you ever think about these issues in your representation of Lucy as a character?
PC: I absolutely do. Lucy in particular lives her life boldly. Now Jamie Berger is far more interesting in terms of her balancing act and that’s a point that I make in this book. Berger is this prominent prosecutor who is now living with Lucy and they’ve been pretty open about their relationship.

Jamie thought she would be okay with this until it started becoming an issue and people were talking about it and she realized that it wasn’t so comfortable for her. She started having people say ugly things about her on the Internet and getting harassment and her life began to change as a prominent public figure. She realized this wasn’t as easy as she thought it was and now she has some discomfort, which also throws a bit of a monkey wrench in her relationship with Lucy.

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