Tuesday, March 24, 2009

An outie or an innie?

Clementine Ford Goes In

So what are we to make of the “look who came out/look who went in”-case of Clementine Ford? The all caps headline on last month's Diva magazine cover couldn't have been bigger or clearer: CLEMENTINE FORD COMES OUT. Woo and hoo! Break out the feather boas and strike up the band; it's time for a personalized pride parade. Happy gay gals all over the world were excited to watch the final month's worth of “The L Word” episodes for a glimpse of their newly-out heroine. It was like she earned her Advanced Placement Gay, Graduate Level Gay and Doctorate in Fucking Gay overnight.

But now flash forward six weeks. “The L Word” is over, Clementine Ford is about to join the cast of “The Young & The Restless” and she is also no longer proclaiming her outness. In fact, she says she never came out in an interview with TV Guide magazine.

From TV Guide:

Q: Let’s discuss this Diva magazine cover story. You sorta kinda maybe came out as a lesbian. Um, right?
A: [Groaning] I’m sooo glad you asked. The first thing that really upset me was that the cover line said “Clementine Ford Comes Out” which, clearly if you read the article, I did not come out. It was really misleading and full of misquotes to sell the magazine. If someone’s buying it to see that I came out, well, get your money back.

Whoa, wait, what? Alright, let's read the article and see what exactly she said on the matter. Read it in full for yourself here. [Hat tip, uhhuhherfan.com!]

From Diva on the rumors about her and Kate Moennig:

“Well, the truth is...” she begins, measuring her words carefully. “The truth is that I'm not technically out yet. Put that in your magazine. For me, there's never been a distinction about anything to do with sexuality, so there was no declaration to be made. My siblings and I would bring home men and women, and as long as they were human it wasn't a big deal.” Gosh, Clementine Ford has just come out. Well, as a woman who dates women, at least. She's not big on labels, more of which later.

Then later, from Diva on labels:

“I never want to put a label on myself — but knowing that not everyone comes from such a liberal place, when something like Prop. 8 [banning gay marriage in California] comes out, you realize it’s important to stand up and be counted. A little gay kid in a small town is more important than whether I want a label.”

OK, sure, she doesn't say she is gay or lesbian or bisexual in so many words. She says she is “not technically out,” but has brought home “men and women.” Infer what you will, I guess. I infer when she says “put that in your magazine” that she is making some sort of solidarity statement. That said, I would have asked a slew of very specific follow-up questions, like “Wait, did you just come out?” and “So do you consider yourself lesbian, bisexual, queer as Christmas?” and “You know we're going to put your face with an all caps headline about coming out on the cover, right?” I'm not saying the reporter didn't ask those questions, but it's not apparent either way from the story.

TV Guide apparently shared my confusion, because they did ask a follow-up to her un-outing.

From TV Guide:

Q: But I did read the article and you do say “The truth is that I’m not technically out yet.” You go on to admit that, even though you were married to actor Todd Hunter for four years, you’ve also dated women. And you perpetuated the rumors that you and Kate Moennig had a thing while shooting The L Word. Are you just a big ol’ tease?
A: [Ignoring the question] That Diva article also picked up quotes from a podcast interview I did with AfterEllen.com where the interviewer asked me if the sex on The L Word was real and I very jokingly said “Yes, we actually had sex. The L Word is porn. The secret’s out!” And the Diva writer printed it as fact that Kate and I had real sex on camera! I was like, “Oh, my God, I hate you!” I almost wrote a nasty letter and then I stopped myself because I thought, if anyone is stupid enough to actually believe that Showtime would let us have real sex, then that’s not my problem. So that was that. But it made me very angry.

Classic misdirection. Don't answer the real question, but show indignation over another, somewhat-related question. And, she certainly has a point to be indignant about. Diva did get it terribly, horribly wrong when it came to her This Just Out With Liz Feldman appearance. [Catch it at the 17:10 mark.]

From Diva on the Molly/Shane sex scenes:

When she and Moennig were performing their sex scenes [she told Liz Feldman on the AfterEllen website], they wanted it to look as authentic as possible, so they actually had sex on the set – but when "Phyllis" walked in in them, Clementine felt distinctly uncomfortable

From This Just Out on the Molly/Shane sex scenes:

Liz: It was very realistic and I was watching it and I was like that looks like real sex. Was it?
Clementine: Yes. The L Word is porn.
Liz: You said that sarcastically, but I've said that in sincerity.

Wow, Diva, way to be utterly unclear on the concept of sarcasm.

So could Diva have gotten it all wrong, jumped to conclusions, wildly misquoted? Sure, sure and definitely. The TJO misunderstanding shows that at the very least something is on the verge of being rotten in the state of Denmark. So if they took Clementine's somewhat ambiguous statement of solidarity and twisted it into something it's not just to sell magazines, shame on them. Seriously, boo. This helps no one.

Still, what bothers me most about this about face is the timing. If Clementine had never come out, never meant to imply that she came out, never really been any kind of queer in the first place, why wouldn't she have said something right away? Why wait, conveniently, until after “The L Word” has completed its run, when all of the overwhelming support she could garner from this sort of revelation has been used up and she was instead about to appear on a very mainstream, very straight show?

I believe Clementine is a sincere and compassionate supporter of the GLBT community. This won't change that. But there is something very off-putting and sickeningly familiar about this in/out/in dance. The stars flirt with us, give an interview (often with the gay press) where they proclaim some sort of bisexuality and then maybe weeks, maybe months, maybe years later tell another media outlet that they were never were gay in the first place or just misquoted or plain old wrong. For reference please see Megan Mullally, Nelly Furtado, et al. This kind of bisexuality backpedaling is, sadly, nothing new when it comes to celebrities.* But it sure does make me tired.

Well, what do you think? Backpedal? Misquote? Labelphobia? Sigh. I guess it's time to put the feather boa back in the closet, so to speak.

*p.s. Clearly, I don't mean that backpedaling is an inherent part of bisexuality. Banish. The. Thought. It's this kind of fauxsexual thing that makes it hard for bisexual women to fight unfair stereotypes.

35 comments:

Magnolia31 said...

Dear Dorothy,

That Clementine is a coward woman, that's a fact. And that saddens me.

But it's also sad that your writing implies that "back pedaling" is a bisexual thing.

I'm bisexual and I felt hurt by that.

People are people. Coward people are coward people. They can be straight, bisexual, gay, lesbian, trans... whatever.

Please do not nourrish classic discrimination against bisexuals.

Your infatigable fan

not only but also said...

The bit I loved about her interview was when she claimed her mother didn't help her career, inferring that anyone's mother can persuade the producers of a major TV show to go take a look at their daughter's reels before deciding how to cast a role... I have nothing against nepotism whatsoever - you just need to be HONEST about it, Clemmie.

King is a Fink said...

I don't think you implied that bisexuals backpedal, but rather that celebrities backpedal. And celebrities do often backpedal about their sexuality in order to please their audience.

Sarah in Chicago said...

Backpedal.

I'm taking a both/and approach to this. Yeah, I think DIVA possibly went too far with what they did.

However, I think it's obvious that Clementine did jump on the bandwagon. Regardless of where they were said, what she has said is bloody unambiguous, despite her protestations to the contrary.

And yeah, to me it reeks of cowardice, given the end of the L-Word and her move into the 'family-friendly' daytime soap space.

I'm not bisexual, I'm lesbian, but if I were I would feel really shitty that yet another celebrity used my sexuality to further her fan base and then threw it to the side.

Shannon said...

The whole "coming out/going in" thing with celebrities and the interviews they do as well as magazines twisting words for their own gain is wearing thin.

It would be nice to have more celebrities declare themselves bisexual or lesbian without any need for further clarification.

Whether Clementine Ford is heterosexual, homosexual or bisexual and whether she chooses to make a declarative statement about her sexuality is her choice and no matter how hopeful the LGBTQ community is that more celebrities will "come out" of the proverbial closet, it is not up to us to decide the time or place for them to do so.

Clementine Ford may very well still feel the pressure of playing the Hollywood game the way it has been played for years and though we have seen several instances of "coming out" not hurting ones career... the stigma nonetheless still remains.

I am hopeful that one day soon all people will be considered equals, that the stigma of the LGBTQ label will go away, that people will just be considered people and not a label and that when someone "comes out" that they never feel the need to worry about how it will affect their career, fan base, etc.

I too believe (like Dorothy) that Clementine (no matter her sexuality) is still a friend to the LGBTQ community.

Anonymous said...

I don't want to slam Clementine. I love her, but I do think she could have just said, "no I'm not gay, yes I may be (just) bisexual." (Like lots of other celebrities e.g. Lindsay Lohan, Pink, Natalie Portman) I mean, why not?

She married (and divorced) a guy, and she could have dated girls - as she mentioned in the Diva interview that she and her siblings would bring home people of both genders.

She shouldn't have just denounced that she didn't "come out". It hurt us, methinks. Like she didn't want to be associated with us. But - to be fair, she may be angry because the interview was taken out of context and used in a salacious manner.

JR said...

Dude. If I were Megan Toohey I'd be pissed that my gf just recloseted herself.

RHEA said...

I really, really, really hope that her anger is simply at the fact that she feels like the Diva article is crap and that she feels misquoted by them...I don't want her to be a backpedaller. Backpeddling does nothing to help that little gay kid in a small town that she was once so concerned about.

Anonymous said...

Being an actor in Hollywood isn't easy. In fact it's a kind
of game that you have to play. When you are young and trying to make it in Hollywood sometimes it's good to have people question your life. Doing that sometimes gets you the good roles. Having famous parents also helps. But I think the bottom line is that there are some actors who are able to handle being questioned about their orientation and others aren't. I mean as a community we are starved for people like us in the media and when they appear we kling to them like nobodys business and some peoples backs can take it and others can't. She may have the kind that can't and doesn't want to be the poster child for you gay actors in America. She just wants to do her passion and we can't blame her for it. Plus that diva arrive kinda sucks as a news piece anyway.

Anonymous said...

Since DIVA misquoted misrepresented in other areas of the article (sex on the L word), I believe that they edited the interview to make it more declarative that Clem was coming out.
Really her statement was more vague and supportive than coming out.

ANd what is she supposed to do, issue a statement that she is NOT a bi or lebo? That would be sort of gross too.

So DIVA stop trying to sell shit by lying. Something like 'coming out' should have been clarified by the interviewer or the editors.

jennifer from pittsburgh said...

The only time that back pedaling may work in your favor is in a basketball game. The rest of the time you just look foolish.

Natazzz said...

I have never heard of a straight person who refused to label themselves....therefore, no label = not straight in my book.

Of course Diva went a little overboard, but Clementine's reaction (whether she is queer or not): LAME.

Malinda Lo said...

I was looking forward to reading your take on this, Snarker! I am concerned that DIVA may have dropped the ball here ... or had a lapse in ethics. I mean, the fact that their managing editor let through that snippet about Clementine Ford having actual sex on the set of TLW is just sad. ANY editor worth their salt should have known they would need to double and triple fact-check that sentence. That makes me suspect that DIVA inflated Ford's statements. Disappointing. But Ford is also disappointing for not answering TVG's question.

J9 said...

As a bi person of a certain age (over 40), it really does none of us any good that celebs are constantly making declarations about their sexuality, and then declaring something else. I get that sexuality is fluid, and people change who they want to be with over time (butch protector, femme fatale, man, woman, etc.). However, constantly coming out and changing direction, at what we perceive to be advantageous times in your career is insincere. I like Clementine Ford, I adore Cybill Shepherd and wish them both all the best, but I just wish we didn't have to suffer the general public's derision of, "oh sure you're bi, until you find the right man and then declare you never were..." sigh.

dc said...

I was going to forgive Clementine for being young and naive and new to the Hollywood game, but alas, I found out she's 30.

Nope. Can't use age as an excuse.

I think DIVA did inflate somewhat, but timing suggests a bit of back pedaling on Clementine's part too.

AH well...

Norma Desmond said...

I'm pretty sure this is an everybody's-to-blame sort of thing. DIVA seems to have taken a few things out of context and then restructured them to their own means. CF seems to be suffering from a touch of cowardice and hypocrisy, as so many celebrities are when it comes to their sexuality. Shame. That private pride parade would have been fun...

Anonymous said...

i don't blame her. The way that article read not only was she a big gay, but a slutty big gay having sex all over the l word set. Not to mention re-outing someone else who has never outed themselves, who is slowing crawling out of the closet herself.

i would also be pissed enough to go running back to the closet.

personally i wish that she made a big announcement saying she is gay and proud etc but not with that kind of smutty interview attached.

Anonymous said...

This "in/out/in dance" really does annoy me too. As a bisexual, I hate this characteristic that people just love to throw in our faces. I've always identified as bisexual, and I've never doubted that. If I so happen to marry a man, than that doesn't stop making me bi. If I marry a woman, it's the same deal. AND this doesn't mean that I need both at the same time to feel fully satisfied. There, had to let all that rage out :) BUT...

It is unfortunate that Clementine Ford felt the need to use this as a means of pleasing her audience or having to dance around her story about bringing home men and women when clearly, at the time, she was inferring something.

Anonymous said...

Its no secret in the LA scene that Clementine is dating Linda Perry.

JULIA said...

Regardles of in or out, I just think it is sad that we care at all. Yes, we celebrate when someone "joins the club" but why ... because we're starved for representation. I wouldn't care about this story at all if it were just about someone famous' daughter and her boyfriend and being misrepresented in a magazine but you add the gay or bisexual element and we're supposed to care.

And, I'm not saying you shouldn't write about it Dorothy because I think you should, it just sucks that you need to.

eme said...

what a way to get a little more press....but so not the way to go.

barbie said...

I really appreciated your p.s. about bisexuality. in fact i just started my own blog exploring my own sexuality a bit- stop by anytime! wanted to let you know i've been following your blog for awhile and wanted to say thanks for always entertaining and often getting me to think.

Anonymous said...

ds, i'll come back tomorrow
and will read them cus it's long
to see it now.

thanks for the post, and
have a good dream.
good night!

Heather said...

I think that Clementine seemed a lot more upset about the shitty journalism by DIVA and the poorly put together article than she did about the supposed coming out. Nowhere in the article did she really come out, DIVA just seemed to manipulate it to sound that way. I think she just wants to remain label free which is entirely her prerogative. She wanted to make it clear that she has dated both women and men before while still remaining label free, and I see no problem with that. I still love her regardless of where she falls in the LGBT community.

Anonymous said...

Hi Dorothy!

Long overdue in telling you how wonderful your blog is!! Love it, Love it, LOVE IT!!!!

I have to take the Clementine "is she?/isn't she?" ordeal with a grain of salt. I'm not sure I could explain 'fluid sexuality' any better than she did if that's the underpinning of her beliefs. Too damn confussing for this ol' dyke! I can respect the principle of the concept but don't ask me to explain it sober.


Thanks for all you do, Dorothy, I wish you well on this rainy Wednesday!

Anonymous said...

Sometimes I think that celebrities think they sound open-minded if they make ambiguous statements about their sexuality -- implying they could be lesbian or bi -- but I think it would be better to state unambiguous support for the LGBT community -- which they don't later backpedal from -- instead of doing a whole bunch of implying-and-retracting about their orientation.

Someone struggling with their sexuality would benefit much more from hearing someone they admire say "I support the LGBT community/gay marriage/etc." than getting all these confusing messages about whether the celebrity is queer, and whether the celebrity is out.

Anonymous said...

Given the reference to Megan Mullally's bisexuality, I thought I'd post this new interview:

http://www.queerty.com/megan-mullally-on-in-the-motherhood-bisexuality-and-that-karen-jack-spin-off-20090325/

EdgyJuneCleaver said...

This old Hasbian-now-Lesbiagain missed the memo stating: "any woman who has sex with another woman is automatically a lesbian or at the very least a bisexual." Way way back in the day when having a mullet was a testament to your les cred labels were important. And I was a pariah for thinking being an out lesbian or bisexual or straight woman is way way more about who you f**k. So what if Clementine Ford dated a woman or had sex with Katherine Moennig and isn't declaring herself a lesbian. Maybe she will figure it out someday. Maybe she won't. Maybe she was just horny. But that's right...in the grand scheme of: All That Is Lesbian And Right you aren't supposed to sport sex a chick. Maybe if more lesbians would sport fuck it would be easier to expect a deviation from the prescribed lavender norm. Guess I'm still a pariah.

Anonymous said...

"I have never heard of a straight person who refused to label themselves....therefore, no label = not straight in my book."

so true!

alice said...

Hear hear to the new term fauxsexual! (new to me, anyway.)

It would be great if we didn't need labels, and I'm glad that there are more and more places where that's true. But I remember all too well being that teenager in the suburbs who was so fucking relieved to find out that there were other people dealing with all of this. Until no one needs a label to feel safe, welcome, relieved or not alone, I believe that the rest of us have a responsibility to stand up and be counted.

On an individual level, I feel a bit badly for CF, since it seems like she said more than she wished she had about some things (taking home men and women), and DIVA ran with it. However, I still think that that kid in a small town is more important than whether she wants a label, and I'm disappointed that she's changed her mind about that.

Anonymous said...

This seems SOOOO L word, makes no sense, ambitious, no story no beginning or end and nothing clearly presented except the boundless WTF's.

No wonder Clementine fit right in.

No matter I like her and who she fk's isn't important to me..

Anonymous said...

i skip some part, but the point
is that she said she is gay, but
now say she isn't.

so, ds what's the matter?
whoever she likes it's her business.

what i think the real matter is
how can convince people that
les life style is cool. and
you choose it cus you like it.
you believe that's what you want.

now you, or i believe then
what's the real matter?

instead of focus on gossip
think about if you really want
to make something happen.

just my thought.

FloodTheEngine said...

Dorothy,

I thought this article might be something of interest to you regarding the blog you just posted:

http://www.advocate.com/exclusive_detail_ektid76945.asp

Anonymous said...

You know I read all those articles and I am more confused than ever. Is she gay or not? It doesn't really matter to me or I think to a lot of people, but this back and forth thing is crazy

Anonymous said...

"The stars flirt with us, give an interview (often with the gay press) where they proclaim some sort of bisexuality and then maybe weeks, maybe months, maybe years later tell another media outlet that they were never were gay in the first place or just misquoted or plain old wrong." -----> that is so what Laurel Holloman did too, ugh.