Interview with David Eric Laine. I met David Eric Laine and Chris Bellamere, his lover of several years now, in their home in Silverlake. We sat on the patio, surrounded by the gardens David loves and drinking a glass of Kistler Merlot from Chris's well stocked wine cellar. They were both dressed casually in jeans and Izod T-shirts. Like everyone who meets him, I found I couldn't help but stare at Chris. I've seen some good-looking men in my day - I work the Hollywood scene, remember - but never have I encountered anyone with such raw animal magnetism. I'm not even gay, but I felt it.
Pat: You're an L.A.P.D. Homicide detective. What made you choose to be a police officer, when your parents wanted you to go to Harvard law school?
David: It was my mother who wanted me to enter law. I did, for a year at one of the big New England prep schools, but I hated it. I hated the whole preppy experience. I may have been born into it, but it never suited me. So, out of curiosity as much as anything, I took a criminology course. I guess that's what sparked my interest in law enforcement. Then on a whim when I was staying in L.A. for an extended visit, I took the L.A.P.D.entrance exam and passed.
Chris: With flying colors. He would have been a great lawyer. But he's a better cop.
Pat: So you decided to become a police officer, one of the notably most homophobic outfits in the world. You didn't see the dichotomy in that? You were out to your parents, weren't you?
David: Yeah, I told them before I left for college. They didn't take it too well at first. My Dad -stepfather - came around first. He said he loved me too much to let something like that get between us. My mother... Let's just say she didn't approve. But then I've gotten used to that. She's never approved of anything I did.
Pat: But how did you handle the L.A.P.D. ?
David: By not letting on, what else? Sometimes I think it's the only smart thing to do. I thought I had a handle on it. It was a classic 'Don't ask, don't tell'situation. I figured I was safe as long as I didn't do anything stupid.
Chris laughs: You mean like fall in love?
David: I didn't plan on that. Never in a million years did I think I'd fall for anybody, let alone a guy like
Chris. He was so out of my league, and spoiled rotten to boot.
Pat: But you never told anyone, not even your partner? What was it like working in such close quarters with an openly homophobic man like Martinez?
David: It's rough. I had to watch very word out of my mouth. I didn't dare look at another guy in case I gave something away. If I had to enter a gay bar after a suspect or witness he'd razz me about getting hit on by some cute joto, his charming little term for faggot. Sometimes, though, I just had to give in to it. So I had a rule: Not in my backyard. I allowed myself a once a year holiday in Palm Springs. Everyone thought I was just going to the big car show there. No one asked questions. I just never told them I booked a room at the Hacienda and cruised the local gay bars.
Pat: That made you uncomfortable?
David: Who wants to think they're slaves to their libido? I wanted to be in control, not let lust control me.
Chris: Thank God, he got over that.
David: I may not be so uptight these days, it doesn't mean I want to air our private lives in public. It's no bodies business what we do in the privacy of our bedroom.
Chris: What about the stuff we do in the living room? The kitchen -- oh, what about the car? (Chris is grinning now) You know how much I love that bucket seat.
David: (Looking exasperated) Chris.
Chris: I know, I know. Loose lips and all that.
Pat: (Clearing my throat) Once you were outed, what was the attitude of your fellow officers?
David: Not very enlightened. Some of them liked to leave me gifts. Condoms, invitations to join gay hot lines, one charming D even left me a .45 slug. I guess he was saying I should use it as a courtesy. What's one more dead faggot, right?
Pat: Have you come to terms with that? Or do you let it bother you?
David: I think I'm okay with it. I think I'm a good cop, but face it, all cops run into a lot of hatred just being a cop. The uniform triggers a lot of enmity.
Pat: Have you ever found the discrepancy of your income versus Chris's created any issues? A lot of relationships, gay or straight are strained when one partner makes so much more than another.
David: I'll admit we had some rocky moments in the beginning. I couldn't possibly give Chris the kinds of things he could buy himself, and he wouldn't stop buying me expensive things, so yeah, it got ugly. We found a compromise, though, that works most of the time. I pay for half the living expenses - he just gives me his share and I take care of the bills. What he does with his money is his business, though I have to put my foot down sometimes when he wants to do something foolish like buy me a BMW or something. You know how silly I'd feel driving a car like that? (He flexes his muscles) Now if he wanted to buy me a Land Cruiser, maybe we could talk...
Chris: You don't turn you nose up at the clothes I pick up for you. You know you look sharp in the stuff I buy you.
David: Yeah, I look good. Who doesn't want to look good? But you look better.
Pat: (The look they share this time is just this side of incandescent) I understand you like to refurbish old cars and antique record players. You still do that?
David: Every chance I get. I got this great deal on a '56 Chevy Coupe a few years back--
Chris: You got a good deal because it was a piece of junk.
David: But a piece of junk with promise.
Chris: Okay, I gotta admit, you've worked miracles on it. Besides, who can forget our first date in it. The one you wouldn't admit was a date? Things got pretty heavy that night--
David: I'm sure this guy doesn't want to hear about that.
Pat: How do your parents take it now that you've been a police officer for what is it, fifteen years? Haven't you won several several decorations? The Police Distinguished Service Medal, and the Medal of Valor?
Chris: All before he came out. Since then? Zip. Bupkus.
David: My stepfather's always been okay with it, he supported me from the beginning. It's my mother and grandmother who can't come to grips with it. I'm afraid the blood on my mother's side is a little too blue to accept something as plebeian as a public servant in the family. She's never said, but I think my mother is disappointed she won't be a grandmother.
Pat: Don't you have a sister?
David: Sure, Ally- Alison. But she's never married and the last time I spoke to her, she wasn't interested in having any kids. She's got a couple of Afghans, so I guess they're her kids. She knew it would upset Mom, so she never told her.
Chris: Right, your mother's not a dog person.
Pat: You were adopted by your stepfather, Graham Laine when you very young. Do you remember you biological father at all?
David: No. My mother told me he was shipped to Vietnam just after I was born and he was killed there shortly after. She won't talk about him. She never even kept any pictures of him around, so I couldn't even tell you what he looks like, though I've heard my mother say I'm the spitting image, so I guess all I have to do is look in a mirror. Still, it would have been nice to have known him. I mean, did he have family? Do I have aunts and uncles? Cousins? Mom would never say. It's a closed book in our house. It leaves a big blank hole in your life not to know who you are and where you came from. I wish my mother was willing to be more forthright, but every time I bring it up she shuts me out.
Pat: When was the last time you were home?
David: A couple of months after Chris and I started living together, just before Christmas. I guess part of me was hoping they would have mellowed out and be willing to accept Chris.
Chris: Like that ever happened. They made it pretty plain I wasn't wanted there, though to be fair to him, David's Dad was cool. But his mother...Let's just say she gives new meaning to the word bitch.
David: You know I don't like it when you call her that.
Chris: Right, let's not call the kettle black.
Pat: So you haven't been back to see them again?
Pat: Think you ever will?
David: Sure. (He shares a look with Chris) When hell freezes over.