Clementine Ford sets the record “straight”

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I dated men. Got married and divorced. Worked a bit here and there. 

And then I booked a job on a little show called, The L Word.

It was heaven. I was 25-years-old and dropped right in the middle of gay camp. Every where I looked I heard Oprah’s voice in my head: “And you’re a lesbian, and you’re a lesbian!” These were the people I’d been looking for my whole life. (Take that, Catherine.)

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Of course there was a woman right away. I ached for her. I pined for her. I couldn’t see straight around her, I could barely look her in the eye. She, however was as cool as a chocolate chip in the freezer. Way too cool for me. I stumbled over my words when we spoke and felt like I was trying to swallow my own heart.

We were talking outside the trailers when she very abruptly asked:

“So, are you gay, or what?”

WHAAAAAT?! Did this mean I had a chance? Were we going to adopt babies and live happily ever after? I was ready to tell her my whole story, because I didn’t have an answer to that question when she interrupted my thoughts.

“You’re not bi, are you? Because bi girls are a fucking nightmare. Ugh. They’re just so—”

“Psht. No. I’m gay! I’m gay! So totally gay—gay as Christmas. Bi is bullshit. I know because of how gay I am.”

Maybe we hear what we want to hear, because her only reaction was a deadpan. “Good. Do you want to have dinner with me tonight?”

The relationship ended when the job did. Back in L.A. I dated a few other women before settling down with one. I did an interview with Diva magazine in her spare bedroom. When that came up it lead naturally to questions about our situation. Nothing out of the ordinary except that she kept thanking me for coming out to her whenever I said anything about my girlfriend. I thought it was weird, but let it go. I really shouldn’t have been surprised when I saw the magazine with, “CLEMENTINE FORD COMES OUT!” splashed across the cover. Even non-lesbian news sites were proclaiming, “CYBILL SHEPHERD’S DAUGHTER A LESBIAN!

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Oh. Fuck.

I had to fix it, not because I cared about being labelled a lesbian, but because I wanted to be honest about who I was. And I had most definitively NOT come out. Luckily, I had an interview with TV Guide magazine coming up. I told the whole story. I said that I didn’t want to be labelled. That labels were silly. Which, apparently, was the equivalent of going back in. I felt awful, like everyone hated me and I was letting everybody down. So I did what any level headed person would do: I went on television and said, “Yes. I’m gay.”

And that was that.

A couple years later, my girlfriend and I broke up and after a few half hearted attempts at dating some truly spectacular women I gave up. My heart was too broken. I was done. I came to accept that I would be alone and never have kids and grow cobwebs in my vagina and it was fine.

I went on antidepressants, as you do, and enjoyed my solo life. My sister wrote a play that I was obsessed with and after three auditions I got the part of a performance artist who masturbates on stage, snorts her mother’s ashes and becomes possessed by her. It was perfect.

Until I met Cyrus, the actor playing my twin brother. He was a schmuck. Condescending and rude. And he ate an entire pepperoni pizza for breakfast. FOR BREAKFAST. Followed by green juice that somehow he got all over his mouth and down his shirt. It was disgusting.

One night when rehearsal was cancelled, we went out to dinner, just the two of us, to run lines and try to find a way not to hate each other. We didn’t have to work very hard because, before the menus closed we started talking. And talked and talked until we went home. Where we talked until our batteries died and we switched to email. I couldn’t believe this guy, this schmuck was my new best friend.

But there was something else nagging, floating around in the back of my head.

We were working on shadow puppets a couple of days later and Cyrus was in the corner doing some weird Japanese dance when I felt it. I recognized what was pinging around in my brain. Holy shit—I was in love with him.

This couldn’t be happening. I was a lesbian, I couldn’t fall in love with a dude. He had balls. BALLS! And no one wants balls in their face. Well, not me anyway.

I thought of the friend who told me she’d feel betrayed if I ever dated a man; of the young people whose parents could use me as fuel for their, “If only you’d meet the right man/or woman” argument; of my sisters—I was supposed to be setting an example for my sisters—how could I do this to them?

And yet, I loved him.

I called my mom. I told her. She said, again unfazed, “And what do you want to do about it?

Sit with it. Tell only the people close to me?

“Then do that.”

“Thanks, Mom. I love you.”

Imagine my surprise when a few days later she went on Access Hollywood and said, “Clementine has a boyfriend.”

I looked at Cyrus. “She just fucking outed me on national television.”

I was ripped to shreds online. One woman wrote that I was a cunt who should die, another said someone should come to my house with a slingshot and shoot me in the face. Points for creativity on that one.

At least I only lost a few friends.

I reached a point where I didn’t know where the hell I stood on the sexuality spectrum. I couldn’t be bisexual because no one loves bisexuals, I couldn’t be a lesbian because, balls, and I certainly wasn’t straight because (ew) balls. That’s when my sister told me about being queer. And it fit. Sort of. If I’m forced to pick. The truth was that still nothing felt truer than identifying as a lesbian, but queer was a close second. Is a close second.

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If god forbid something happened and Cyrus and I were no longer together, I suspect I would go back to women, but if I’ve learned anything it’s never say never. Or lesbian. Or straight. Especially not bisexual.

Follow Clementine on Twitter and check out Don’t Tell My Mother on Twitter and Facebook.

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