The Doctor's Dilemma

Sure, gay physicians deal with prejudice. But from mom and pop?

The reaction? "A couple patients said something to the effect of "You're a great doctor, and I don't care what they say,'" Norman explains.

Despite the police order, Marie came back to Norman's office six days later, on October 9, and again accosted patients outside his office, telling them about his personal life.

The following day they went to Norman's home and threatened him by saying, "We are going to get you out of the closet, and we will terminate you no matter what," according to the request. A day later they were in front of his home again, but Norman avoided them. Victor and Marie phoned him 15 times on his cell phone that day, leaving messages terming him a "faggot," "monster," and "child molester."

W. Kelley Lucas

On October 16 Norman asked his parents to stop calling him. Nevertheless they telephoned him at least ten times that day. Then they went to his home, knocking urgently on the door. Sands, fearing for his safety, did not answer. Norman was not home.

The following day, when Norman was returning from lunch with his office staff, he saw his parents. Rather than face further confrontation, Norman dropped the staff at the office and left the area.

On October 20 Victor and Marie filed a complaint in small-claims court seeking repayment of the $5000. Norman filed a request for a temporary restraining order on October 25, which a judge granted two days later. After a courtroom hearing February 23, 2001, which included testimony from the three Smiths, Sands, and police, a judge made the order permanent. The parents' lawsuit is not yet settled.

Had Norman's parents limited their harassment to his home, he would not have taken court action. "I didn't care so much about what they were doing here at home, but when they take it to work, well, that's my bread and butter. I really feel it could be detrimental to my relationship with my patients and colleagues."

Norman said he can only guess about what motivated his parents. "I think it's this kind of thing: If we can't have you the way we want you, no one can," he says.

Then Sands shakes his head and interjects, "We're trying to find reason where there is none. When people want revenge they're willing to destroy everything, including themselves."

Victor and Marie Smith live in a gated development in southwest Broward. When New Times visited and asked Marie about her son, she questioned a reporter's right to come to their property, then quickly retreated into the house.

But a glimpse of the tortured logic that went into the harassment can be found in the letter Victor sent to his son September 28. "Today I have just finished confirming the cruel reality that explains all the mystery and the sick privacy that you demanded," begins the missive, which is neatly hand-printed in all capital letters. Referring to Sands, it continues, "Tell me where you came to know that grotesque, bleached gorilla that lives off of you.

"For me that is and will always be the hardest blow that my life could ever give me," the letter continues. "I raised my child to be a good man, not a perverted faggot that kneels at another man's zipper. My son, the pride of my life, is "the scum of the earth,' a perverted depraved liar, a dog, and a danger to children. A faggot like you cannot be in contact with innocent children. Parents will feel their trust betrayed and feel like I feel now.

"All of your companions that you grew up with are dignified professionals, fathers of family and the pride of their communities. What are you? After I raised you with the best schools, doctors, dentists, vaccines and cars etc.... and much love."

Norman responds philosophically. "They don't bother me anymore," he says. "I'm relieved that they're not in my life -- and, naturally, disappointed. How can two rational people justify destroying a son's career? It's certainly not love."

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