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.