When viewers first met Romi Klinger, she was one of Whitney Mixter‘s love interests on Season 1 of The Real L Word. In Season 2, she was a full-fledged cast member with a story following her tumultuous relationship with girlfriend Kelsey and her decision to become sober. By the last episode, Romi and Kelsey had split but she’d abstained from drinking, with one old habit dying hard: Whitney.
Caution: Spoilers ahead! Don’t read if you haven’t seen last night’s premiere episode.
On last night’s Season 3 premiere, Romi introduced cameras to her boyfriend, Jay, and we found out she had a falling out with Whitney and Sara. We recently talked with Romi about her big life changes and what we can expect to see from her in the next eight episodes this summer.
AfterEllen.com: So I saw the first episode and we were introduced to your boyfriend. Some viewers are probably going to want some kind of explanation or want to know if this is new for you or if you’ve dated men before.
Romi Klinger: Yeah, I’ve definitely dated men and women and if people paid attention to last season, they talked about how I was married once. So it shouldn’t come as much as of a surprise to people but it’s going to. It’s been a really long time since I’ve explored outside of women. Not that I didn’t date men in the past — I just had primarily been with more women over the past few years. So I’m just back to opening myself back up to both sexes right now.
AE: Do you think you’re going to get a lot of negative feedback?
RK: I have to be careful how much I say, but I think its sad how judgmental people are in the community. I’ve always been bisexual and at the time I was on the show, I was primarily with women — like I was in a relationship with Kelsey, I was in a relationship with Whitney — and my life became true to everyone else, but that doesn’t mean that is my whole life and I’m 30 years old and haven’t been with men before. I think I’ve just come to a place where I’m open with it and that’s where I evolved and I think that people should be happy if I’m in love or if I’m happy and it shouldn’t matter what sex I am or I’m with. It shouldn’t matter at all.
AE: Were you concerned the show wouldn’t want you to be on once they found out you were dating men?
RK: I think that’s why they asked me to come back, because when they asked me where I was in my life, I was looking at where I am and that’s with a man and they still wanted to bring me back to the show. And I think that says a lot for the show because it doesn’t mean that I don’t love women. I was raised by two women, my aunt is a lesbian, my mother was a lesbian, I’ve been in relationships with women for the last what years in my life. I don’t think it doesn’t mean I’m not a part of that. It just means that this is part of my story and it happens to be with a man and it doesn’t take away from me being in love or having the relationships I have or being a part of that community. That’s been my life and my friends for a very long time. I think a lot of lesbians and I think a lot of women who are bisexual don’t know how to explore both sides because there’s such high pressure from their friends in the community about leaving the team and not being a part of it. And I think that that’s sad. And I do think a lot of women watching the show who are lesbians do want to explore both and not feel bad about and I hope that they do connect to my story.
AE: I’m sure there will be some people who share that story.
RK: I respect the show for doing that. Knowing there are people like myself within our community that feel this way. I’d been afraid to come out with it. I had been uncomfortable to come out with it. It’s just really strange to feel afraid of your peers on something so small as loving somebody.
AE: It seemed like you and Kelsey got back together at some point when the cameras were off. What’s your relationship like with her now?
RK: We did. You’ll be seeing her this season. She’s definitely been a big part of my life and I’ve loved her and love her and will always love her. Kelsey, you know, she’s a huge part of the last few years of my life and my growth. We have our own kind of struggles and our own battles that everybody would have. Sometimes you love people that maybe aren’t the best for your life at that moment, you know?
AE: On the first episode Kelsey looked surprised to see photos of you and Jay together. Was that a surprise to her?
RK: No, no, no! Kelsey came back into being with me when I had a guy &mdsah; and Jay is an ex-boyfriend of mine. When I first met Whitney, I was dating Jay. So when the show first started and I was starting to date Whitney, I was dating him. I left a girlfriend of mine for a very long time for him and nobody that knows me should be surprised. The audience should be surprised, but not anyone like Kelsey. Kelsey dated me so she knows very well my history. I think the shock value is more for attention and anger because it’s an easy target. Everyone can use this now as such a target toward me because it’s against the community. It’s not necessarily coming from a true place. They all know this.
AE: Is the fact that you are dating a guy going to be a major point of tension on the show?
RK: I think I’m bisexual and you’re going to watch me explore myself that way. I think the girls on the show and the girls around me that are pointing the finger and judging because we may have other personal issues and this is an easy target. It’s avoiding the real stuff.
AE: Is there a chance that you could ever mend your friendships with Whitney and Sara?
RK: It was really heartbreaking to go through that, especially with Sara. We were very, very, very close and grew apart and it’s always heartbreaking to see people in your life that you thought were going to be around forever just kind of grow apart. I think there’s a lot of sadness to both of us and we’re just different people now.
AE: So it didn’t have anything to do you with your being a guy — it was other personal issues?
RK: I don’t think it has to really do with me dating a guy. I think that, like I said, there’ve been some personal issues and because I’m dating a guy it’s the easiest way to get others to judge me.
AE: You share some commonalities with a new cast member, Lauren, You both dated Kelsey and are into making jewelry. Did you know her at all?
RK: No, we’re not friends at all. Lauren — I don’t really know her. I don’t know her well. I know she wanted to be on the show and she got it, so. That’s great. I like how it turned into like a Real World auditioning — I don’t know what happens in this city but I’m glad people’s dreams are coming true.
AE: What are you working on right now?
RK: I’m working with a girl named Karima in Chicago, we work with Wake Up Call Tees and I collaborated and we did some Casa Por Vida T-shirts and hoodies and tanks. And just like my line Casa Por Vida, we give 10 percent to Corazon which is helping families in Mexico. You guys saw on the last season I was doing this in a way to dedicate to my father so we’re just keeping it going. I still continue to work with Love and Pride and I have a small collection on his site. It’s handmade, all done by me; handmade, in my little house.
AE: And you’re doing music now too, right?
RK: I’m working on music and I’m doing a record right now with Dusty and you’ll get to see a lot of that on the show as well.
AE: So is Dusty your new boyfriend?
RK: [Laughs] What am I allowed to say? He’s definitely a musical partner and somebody from my past that is welcomed back into my life and we’re doing an album together.
AE: Do you think you’ll only date men from now on or would you ever date another woman?
RK: I don’t think it’s ever black and white like that. It really is about the person. If I’m with somebody who is a woman and isn’t right for me and a man happens to be better for me, that’s who I’m going to be with. If a woman is better for me in my life than a man, then that’s who I’m going to be with. It really doesn’t matter to me at all. At this moment, right now, I’m very happy and that’s just what matters.
AE: Do you think there are any misconceptions about you?
RK: Are you kidding me? I open myself up and live a really crazy life, as I’m sure most people do, and I really, really give a lot of my personal life and my family and my struggles to the show and I think that when you do that you open yourself up for judgment and you become a target. I didn’t get on the show so I could become a celesbian for the rest of my life and party with bottles. I came on it so I could open my life up to certain people I could connect with and share my story. It gets chopped up and we get attacked for it and that’s what I signed up for. The people that do get it is why it’s good.
AE: So it was all worth it?
RK: It’s life, it’s an experience and I’m going to look back and I’m going to pray that there are some girls are there that can really connect with what I’ve been through. I got to share this really insane part of my life with the world and if they hate me, then it’s not the end of the world.
The Real L Word airs Thursdays on Showtime.