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The True Story Behind Netflix's Moving Documentary 'A Secret Love'

The women hid their relationship for more than 60 years.

Several new and exciting projects are headed to Netflix, courtesy of writer and producer Ryan Murphy—I mean, have you seen the trailer for Hollywood?—including what looks to be a moving documentary, titled A Secret Love. The film, out on April 29, follows soulmates Terry Donahue and Pat Henschel during the last four years of their relationship.

Donahue's great-nephew, Chris Bolan, directed the film, capturing Donahue's and Henschel's love story after the pair came out to him. The couple had kept their relationship hidden from both of their families for more than six decades.

"They were so game to be sharing this story that we usually had to say at the end of the day, 'Guys, we need to stop. We've been doing this for eight hours,'" producer Brendan Mason told the Chicago Tribune.

Before you fall in love with Donahue and Henschel's love story, read up on their beautiful relationship and lives.

a retro photo of the women from 'a secret love'
Netflix

Donahue and Henschel met in 1947.

Donahue, then 22, was a catcher for the Peoria Redwings women's professional baseball team (yes, the pro organization that inspired the 1992 Penny Marshall film A League of Their Own!) and was spending her offseason in Canada when she met Henschel, 18, for the first time.

According to TIME, they soon became inseparable, and Henschel would travel with Donahue to watch all her games.

"We always wore dresses, makeup, the whole thing," Donahue explains in the trailer. "Anybody who was not me, they simply didn't know."

the subjects of 'a secret love' on a trip
Netflix

They moved to Chicago in 1950 to keep their secret hidden.

The Canadian-born women settled down in Chicago. They ended up staying there for decades.

It wasn't until the pair faced a series of health challenges, including Donahue's diagnosis with Parkinson's disease, that they decided to come out to their family members—in their 80s. (Sadly, Donahue died on March 14, 2019, at the age of 93.)

In a conversation with TIME, Henschel said the years she spent keeping the relationship a secret was "just second nature."

a photo of the women and a family member from 'a secret love'
Netflix

The pair came out to family members in 2009.

A Secret Love shows the couple's life after they came out to their family members, documenting their newfound freedom between 2013 and 2018. The film also shows them discussing the idea of marriage and moving back home to Canada to be closer to their families.

"You can become a part of what's going on all around you," Henschel told Time about what it feels like to tell the truth, after all these years.

A Secret Love premieres on Netflix Wednesday, April 29. Sign up for a free Netflix trial here.


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