“Once I had a secret love
That lived within the heart of me . . .”
So begins Doris Day’s 1953 hit from the Warner Brothers movie Calamity Jane. Although her character, the eponymous female gunslinger, is secretly pining for Wild Bill Hickok in the film, many in the audience could relate to the lyrics. In 1953, if your heart’s desire didn’t prescribe to heteronormative conventions, the consequences were dire: arrest, public exposure, social and familial ostracism, loss of livelihood, and in many cases even suicide.
Little wonder, then, that Terry Donahue and Pat Henschel led a very private life together after falling in love in 1947. Their story, spanning seven decades, is told in the moving documentary A Secret Love.
Both women were originally from Edmonton, Canada. Terry, older by four years, was a member of the All-American…