Clementine Ford on the power of love: ‘we should all be in charge of our sexuality’

Clementine Ford discusses her first love with a woman, the beauty of the LGBTQIA experience – including the complexity of the asexual aspect of it – and why the human capacity to love, and love again, gives her so much hope.

“All love is valid and all expressions of self are valid,” Clementine Ford emphasises, speaking about how her feminism intersects with her experience of being LGBTQ+ on Episode 8 of OUTcast Podcast.

“More than anything, I feel like we should all be in control and in charge of our sexuality.”

The Australian feminist, writer, broadcaster and public speaker has shared her story of falling in love with a woman and coming out at the age of 21, in the finale of OUTcast Podcast’s inaugural season.

“I came out when I was 21 and spent a lot of my teenage years not just hiding it from other people, but also hiding it from myself,” Clementine confesses on OUTcast. “I wouldn’t say I had an internalised biphobia, or internalised homophobia, in myself. It’s more that I just don’t feel cool enough to be a part of the community. I’m a bit of a nerd!” she laughs.

Well, we love “nerds.”

Clementine also talks about grappling with her own experiences of asexuality at times. “There have been times when I’ve thought to myself, ‘can you go through periods of asexuality, or can an asexual identity ebb and flow in your life?’ Honestly, exploring that is more frightening to me than exploring same-sex attraction,” the writer admits.

The writer speaks openly with our host Rosie about her first love with a woman, the beauty of the LGBTQ+ experience – including the complexity of the asexual aspect of it – and why the human capacity to love, and love again, gives her so much hope. 

Listen to the full episode of OUTcast featuring Clementine Ford below, or wherever you usually enjoy your podcasts.

Clementine Ford’s first love: ‘it was like our souls had met in some way’

Clementine begins her new book, How We Love: Notes on a Life, by sharing the story of how she met her first love. They had a whirlwind romance, and Clementine fell hard for her. 

“It was one of those meetings that, after it happened, seemed destined to have occurred,” Clementine shares nostalgically. “It felt like every part of the puzzle just fit into place and explained a lot, but also seemed gifted somehow, by some twist of fate. It was like our souls had met, in some way.”

Clementine describes falling in love for the first time, and it being a woman, as something she was “excited about” and thrilled by. 

“This experience of falling in love with someone, and also, as part of that, coming to know who you are, or having a better understanding of who you are as a person, is really transformative,” Clementine philosophises.

She continues: “I feel like we have these really false ideas about what love is valid and what’s not. And it’s not just about heteronormativity defining a valid kind of love – obviously you and I, and the listeners of this show, know that all love is valid, and that queer love is just as beautiful as straight love. But there‘s a validity that’s applied to love that quote-unquote lasts. People think that if your relationship only lasts six months, or if it lasts for two years and then it ends, that somehow it’s a failed relationship.”

Indeed, the validity of queer love is “ridiculous” to even talk about, according to Clementine. Amen to that.

She reflects more on this notion of long relationships being more valid than short ones and the fact we’ve been culturally conditioned to find ‘the one’:

“All loves have a season. And we have a season and one day our season will be over, and what counts or what we have to make count is how we experienced life while we were here.”

© Sarah Enticknap

Clementine Ford on the grief of losing her mother

As well as being members of the LGBTQ+ community and feminists, and being writers, our host Rosie and Clementine Ford have a big thing in common in that they were both around the same age when they’re mothers suddenly died. 

“Your experience of your mother dying so young, at 58, actually resonates with me,” Rosie confesses in her interview with Clementine in Episode 8 of OUTcast Podcast. “My mum died when she was 59 as well, so I know what it’s like to lose your Mum so unexpectedly.”

“I think the hardest parts about that grief were not just becoming a mum myself without the benefit of a mother there, but realising now that I’m 40 and I’m so much closer to her in terms of understanding than I was then,” Clementine shares. “I then just miss out on all this opportunity for discussion, and for learning. And going back to what we said at the start of this episode, about love being knowing yourself, but love also being knowing other people.”

Clementine continues: “I loved my mother so much, but I was never able to have the opportunity to really know her. Obviously I knew her as my mum, and I know lots of stories about her, but there’s a layer to her that will just be forever out of my reach.”

© Clementine Ford / Instagram

‘The thing about grief is it knows what I did and it knows what I did not say’

“The musician Clare Bowditch, who’s a musician over here in Australia, has a beautiful song called ‘The Thing About Grief.’ And she sings, ‘The thing about grief is it knows what I did and it knows what I did not say. And it’s sentenced me to a long long lifetime of excavating the things this little head of mine cannot yet understand.’”

Rosie and Clementine continue to ponder the hope that’s contained in experiencing love in spite of loss, and the beauty of humanity’s capacity for love.

“I am made relentlessly hopeful by the fact that we keep trying,” Clementine muses. “We keep trying, even when things haven’t worked out, whatever it might be, we remain in a constant state of trying. I think that’s one of the most beautiful things about humans.”

There’s an old adage that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over, and expecting a different result.

“I actually think that when it comes to love, and doing the same thing over and over, and expecting a different result – but still trying anyway – is one of the most beautiful things I can think of,” Clementine concludes.

Absolutely. Here’s to love.

Click here to listen to Clementine Ford on OUTcast. Clementine’s new book, How We Love, is out now, published by Allen & Unwin.

This episode of OUTcast Podcast is dedicated to the memory of Sue Pentreath (1958-2018).

(📸: Sarah Enticknap + Clementine Ford / Instagram)

Published by Rosie Pentreath

Founder and host of OUTcast Podcast. Rosie is an LGBTQ+ writer, digital producer and musician, often found travelling to some far flung place or other, to take photographs on a 1970s Pentax SLR camera or flick through a good book. Rosie has contributed to Reader's Digest, Cosmopolitan, Grazia, Classic FM, BBC Music Magazine, Homes & Antiques, Music Feeds, The Fashion Spot and other arts and lifestyle publications.

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