OUTcast S1, Ep 8 • 15 Nov 2021 • 38:45
Rosie: Welcome to OUTcast, the podcast where we catch up with some of the most engaging, courageous and inspiring LGBTQ+ people from all over the world.
We ask our lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans and queer guests where their coming out journeys began, what they’ve gone through along the way – the joy and the pain, but we promise there will be more joy – and what gives them hope.
I’ll be interviewing people from all walks of life, from hardworking queer people behind the scenes, to more familiar faces you might have never known even had the coming out stories they’re about to share.
You can follow us on social media @OUTcastLGBT and you can find us online at outcastpod.com.
Rosie: This episode is dedicated to the memory of my Mum, Sue Pentreath, who we lost too soon.
Our final guest on this season of OUTcast is Clementine Ford.
Clementine is an Australian feminist, freelance writer, broadcaster, public speaker and advocate for social justice and equality, based in Melbourne.
She’s celebrated for her refreshingly frank, searingly intelligent, and no bullshit writing and thinking. She’s famously unafraid to call out trolls who, in turn, have sent her the most vile and abusive content you could think of over the years – all because she simply champions true equality.
Clementine is the author of three books – Fight Like A Girl, Boys Will Be Boys, and now her new book, How We Love. It is a set of essays on love, but also very much a memoir about Clementine’s life. She describes it as containing the themes crucial to life: themes of grief, rebirth, faith, magic, hope and – above all – love.
Clementine describes her sexuality as fluid, and she has dated both men and women, and her first love was a woman.
Rosie: Clementine, welcome to OUTcast. It’s amazing to have you on.
Clementine: Well, it’s so wonderful to be here Rosie, thank you so much for inviting me.
Rosie: You write in your new book that, “to love is to know more of yourself”, and for me, I think knowing yourself is such a big part of coming out, which is of course what OUTcast is all about – coming out as LGBTQ+.
And it’s funny, I’ve spoken to so many guests about their sexuality, about coming out, but we haven’t spoken about love. And sexuality, I suppose, at the core of it, for me, is love, very generally. So it’s incredible to have you here talking about love.
What inspired you to write this book, and why now?
Clementine: Well, I’d love to say that after the pandemic we all needed some human connection, but unfortunately that would be a little bit of a fib, because I pitched the book back in 2019, well before we realised that the world was going to change, as we know it.
It just happens to have been quite serendipitous that it’s come out at a time where I think we do need a little bit of a reminder about what human connection and love looks like. So that’s been a nice kind of silver lining for me I guess, which is a terrible thing to say, I know people have suffered so awfully through the pandemic.
I do think that one thing it has been able to do for us is – I don’t want to sound as twee and trite as to say, “remind us of the things that are important”, but obviously that is true in a practical sense. We’ve been reminded of which people in the world are really essential, and generally speaking the feminised low-paid industries ended up being essential to the running of the world.
And, I think, to a degree, we’ve been able to see that a lot of that work is… obviously people don’t do it for the love of it, and to say that is to dismiss the practical realities of living in a capitalism – but I do think that there’s an underpinning of love that exists in those industries, for example health care – a love for your fellow humans.
I’ve just been fighting with anti-vaxxers all day, so I feel like we’ve been shown the best and the worst of humanity, as a result of this pandemic in particular. I feel like love is so essential to kind of unpacking what all of that is.
And maybe more broadly speaking in my work – because I think that love is so essential to social justice too – it seemed to me to be a natural companion to write a book about love, and a book about the interior lives of people, and how we love each other, and the ferocity with which we love.
Rosie: Mm hmm.
Clementine: You know, people make the mistake of thinking, well, if you’re a feminist or if you’re politically active, or if there are certain connotations associated with your work, as there are with mine, “oh she’s angry, she’s this, she’s that or the other. Oh, she’s very divisive.” I hear that all the time.
But it’s a way of dismissing the reasons for why you do that work, and for me, love is so much a part of that.
Rosie: The book has got that memoir feel, as well as being so about love. Had you thought you might write a memoir around about now? How did that emerge?
Clementine: It’s actually not all that radical a departure for me to do this kind of writing, because obviously parts of my first book in particular had some quite kind of very personal stories in it. But also, throughout my entire writing career I’ve done a lot of life writing. It’s just, it’s very easy for people, I guess, to ignore that part of me and suggest that, ”well this is the only kind of writing she’s well known for, is the more political kind of robust sort.”
But, I mean, for example the first chapter is about my mother, who died of cancer when I was 25, and it’s a reflection on not just her illness and her dying, but also on our relationship as mother and daughter, and what I’ve learnt now 15 years after her passing as a mother myself. I’ve written a lot about my mum over the years, and, you know, addressed a lot of the themes of grief and loss, and being a motherless child, and a motherless mother. So, to me, the idea of, like, adapting that writing into a book was kind of just a natural progression.
Rosie: Yeah. I want to talk a bit about your mother, and your mother’s death, and how that shaped your life, in a bit. But before we do, I want to talk about your first love. You write about her in the introduction of your book – you had had boyfriends, you’d kissed girls, but she was your first big love, and the first woman you’d ever slept with. For listeners who have yet to read the book, how did you meet and how did the relationship unfold?
Clementine: It was one of those meetings – I was 20, 21 – and it was one of those meetings that after it happened seemed destined to have occurred. And in which you felt like every part of the puzzle just fit into place and explained a lot, but also seemed gifted somehow, by some kind of, you know, twist of fate.
And of course, it’s really easy to look back on things that brought us immense joy and immense happiness, and even sometimes immense pain, and think, “well, it must have been fate.” Whether or not you believe in fate or not, I think fate’s kind of a fun thing to think about.
But we met one night. I had been living with a mutual friend of ours, we’d been housemates, but I’d recently moved out. And she invited me back to the house for dinner, and she said, “my friend’s here from inter-state.” And I’d heard about this friend, but not much. And she said, “she’s coming over for dinner, she’s staying for the weekend, come and have dinner with us.”
And I walked into the house, kind of loudly announcing myself as I’m sometimes prone to do, and I said, “where’s this friend of me that you want me to meet then?”
And she was standing out in the garden, and my friend said, “oh, she’s outside.” And I popped my head around the corner, and I said, “hello”, and I felt that instant kind of frisson of something. And, again, whether or not it’s just you’re able to rep-con these things in your mind, it just feels so real to me, that it felt to me in the moment, “something magical’s about to happen.”
We chatted and we flirted that night, and neither of us, I think, necessarily knew that that’s what we were doing, but as the night progressed it became more and more obvious. We kissed at one point, and then we ended up in bed together, and that was the first time I’d ever slept with a woman.”
But it all just seemed so natural and revelatory at the same time. And just part of the exciting landscape of being young and alive. And afterwards I remember she told me, “I heard your voice before I saw your face.” And that always seemed to me to be a magical thing that someone could say to you: “I heard your voice before I saw your face.”
And we just fell in love. And we had a beautiful love affair that was kind of tortured in some respects, as all good love affairs when you’re 21 should be a little bit tortured in some respects.
It lasted for the season that it was meant to last for. And then we became friends, and now we are two women who live in the same city, who have a lot of regard for each other, but don’t see each other that much because that’s just where life has taken us.
Rosie: That’s often the way with big loves. It sounded really beautiful, and like it unfolded really naturally, but did you have apprehensions that this big love was with a woman?
Clementine: I was so excited by it. I was just so madly in love with her. I think she was in love with me, and we certainly said it to each other. But, you know, one of the things she said to me, which I think is also in that introduction, which has always stayed with me, is that falling in love with someone is really about learning who you are. And when we’re young, as I still was at 21, as I still was probably at 30, as I am in many respects now still young inside, when you’re young you don’t know who you are. You’ve no idea. You have a sense of who you want to be, and you have a sense of different personas and characters that you’re trying on. And you also know the ways in which you protect yourself moving through the world, particularly if you are queer and you’ve not been really out about that.
And so 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.
And 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 we know, and when I say, ”we” I mean 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. And, in fact, it’s ridiculous to even have that conversation, because the comparison is just so absurd.
But, I think we should also talk about how there’s a validity that’s applied to love that quote-unquote lasts. And so people think that, well 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. Because we’ve been culturally indoctrinated into this idea that we need to pursue ‘the one’.
And I know that lots of people live outside of those parameters. I’m talking about mainstream culture – even mainstream queer culture still kind of has this very Western ideal of, like, the one that we find who we spend the rest of our lives with.
And you know now that, particularly in Autralia, same-sex marriage is allowed, it’s a sort of a melding of that kind of very conservative view of love, I think. When actually, some relationships are only meant to last for as long as they last for, but it doesn’t make them any less important or life-changing, or valuable as a relationship that lasts for 40 years. Because every love that we have and experience, comes to us hopefully at a time in our life where we can appreciate it for exactly what it is.
Rosie: I agree, I think there’s almost a heteronormativity about how mainstream LGBTQ+ culture is progressing. And that conservative view of love as being based on longevity has stuck. Linked to this, and your experience of queer relationships, how does feminism intersect with your experience of being LGBTQ+?
Clementine: More than anything, I feel like we should all be in control and in charge of our sexuality, and that all love is valid and all expressions of self are valid, and I don’t know that I have a neat answer for how my feminism intersects with it, because it’s all just part of the same thing.
I have a lot of insecurity about my place in the queer community, not becasue I’m not queer, but because I’m kind of a nerd.
And actually I’m sure that this is something that probably a lot of people relate to, because 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. And so there’s a lot of internal… I wouldn’t say internalised bi-phobia, or internalised homophobia in myself even, it’s more I just don’t feel cool enough to be a part of the community.
And I feel quite… having said all of that before about conservative ideals with relationships, I don’t feel conservative in terms of, like, I’m not interested in marriage. I think marriage is a regressive state – and again acknowledging that my opposition to it, as a political moment, is also one built out of privilege, but I sort of don’t really feel like white queers earning the right to be married is all that transgressive. I say white queers in particular because that’s obviously the perspective that I speak from, and I would never try and claim that for anyone else who doesn’t have those layers of privilege. I also feel, you know, I feel kind of like conservative when it comes to love and sex and stuff like that. I’m not super adventurous.
I still feel, in many ways, like the 15-year-old girl that’s just daydreaming about kissing girls, and sort of worried that even if I do get to the point where I’m able to do it openly, that they’ll know somehow that I’m not, like, cool enough to be there.
Rosie: It’s interesting what you say about feeling like that kind of 15-year-old girl wanting to, like, imagining kissing girls and stuff. I feel similar, I feel like one minute I feel very mature in my sexuality, and then the next, I’m like, “Oh, I can’t believe I kind of had those thoughts and feelings” you know, ten years ago, eight years ago, five years ago… it sort of goes in waves, perhaps.
Clementine: Yeah. There was definitely a period, as well, when I first came out where I was, like, feeling myself, you know? I was feeling so cool about it. Which is not to say that I thought it was a cool thing to do – I mean, I did think it was cool, and I do think it’s cool – but it wasn’t like a performance. I just felt very connected to it. And then I suppose, as you were saying, like, that you move in and out of different phases in your life, and for me personally sometimes I feel more inspired into physical connection with other people and sometimes I don’t.
The complexity of the A part of the identity in LGTQIA+ is still, I think, being grappled with more broadly, and people think, I think they hear something like asexual and think, “well that means that you’re just like permanently in state of asexualuty.”
But there have been times when I’ve thought to myself, “can you go through periods of asexuality?” or can an asexual identity be – and I apologise to any listeners who are very well versed in this and who are sitting here maybe thinking, “well, don’t be bloody ridiculous, of course you can!” or “of course you can’t” or whatever it might be. This is something that I’m beginning to think about. I’m interested in how much that can ebb and flow in your life. And, honestly, like exploring that is more frightening to me than exploring same-sex attraction.
Rosie: Yeah, that kind of resonates. I think it is a bit of an unexplored area, at least for some of us in the LGBTQ+ community.
Rosie: Let’s talk about your mother. I said I wanted to pick up on your writing about her in this book. Your experience of her dying so young, at 58, it actually resonates with me. My mum died when she was 59 as well, so I kind of know what it’s like.
Clementine: I’m so sorry.
Rosie: Yeah, I know what it’s like to have a mother just die so suddenly, when you’re so young and still a child yourself. I mean, you’re never ready for it, we’re never ready for our mothers dying, but… I would love to hear a bit more about how it felt. Of course you’ve written so beautifully about it in the book, but for our listeners, you know, how it felt and how it shaped your life.
Clementine: Mmm. Oh gosh, well firstly I am very sorry for you, because as you say there’s no time when you’re ready to lose your mum and I was 25, and in many respects so grateful that I had years that other people didn’t, you know. I’ve heard from people who’ve read this book, in particular, who’ve said they lost their mother at 16, or even younger than that.
I mean, I have a very sort of, without being too “fairies at the bottom of the garden” about it, I have a very kind of philosophically optimistic way of looking at things. And, although I wish that I’d had so much more time with my mum, I’m glad that I got the time that I did, because I know that not everyone has that.
So she was diagnosed with cancer when she was 57. We thought initially that she might, you know, it might be treatable, but it turned out… they were going to do surgery on her, and when they opened her up, they were like, “oh my God, she’s bloody riddled with it!” So it turned out to be not possible.
And then eight months after she was diagnosed she died. And a big part of that chapter is that she could have had a little bit longer, but it wouldn’t have been much longer, it would have been maybe four months or something, but she chose not to have a surgery that would have extended her life by this tiny amount of time. And she chose to basically die.
You know, I describe in that chapter going home for dinner where my parents said that this is the last time that they wanted us to be home, and they wanted us to say goodbye, and then we would go away and then they would wait for it to happen.
And obviously it was devastating and I mean, incredible to write about. And I feel like my mum would laugh at that, because my mum was such a huge reader. I guess when you are a writer, and particularly when you’ve had the benefit of distance – it’s been fifteen years now – you’re not so overwhelmed by your grief that you feel consumed by it. And now I feel like I can walk alongside the grief and I can capture it in a way that is quite beautiful, and that might be meaningful to other people. There’s almost a thrill that you can do that with something that’s been so hard: you can turn it into something beautiful, which is what artists have always done, is turned terrible things into works of something that is hopefully meaningful in some way.
And I think the hardest parts about that grief were, you know, 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. But still not quite where she was, that you 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.
And I loved my mother so much, but I was never able to have the opportunity to know her, if that makes sense. 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.
The musician Clare Bowditch, who’s a musician 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.”
And it feels like that when you’re in grief, and maybe you feel that too Rosie: that you spend all of this time excavating the earth around this person, trying to find some clues as to who they really were.
Rosie: Yep, it’s so true. It resonates so much. I mean, it goes without saying I read that chapter and I just couldn’t stop crying. It means so so much to read something so beautiful that resonates like that, so I know there are so many people that will appreciate it. And yes, I think that’s what hit me the most – I remember when you wrote that when you do get to the age your mother was when she dies, the profound realisation of that is so profound, and there are all these little markers – so yeah, having your baby and yeah, not being able to have those conversations with her. Yeah, I think it just really resonates and it really, yeah, it really packed a lot home.
Clementine: Well, thank you, I’m so glad. And I love, with no joke at all, I love to hear people say that my writing made them cry, because it’s such a huge privilege to be able to make people feel those things, you know.
It’s great to make people laugh – I love making people laugh too – and I love making them feel rageful and inspired, but to make them cry as well, what an amazing thing.
I feel like with my mum, the beautiful thing about it now is that my grief has settled to a place of obviously there’s acceptance, there’s gratitude… I also feel really grateful, and I’m interested to know if you feel the same, I feel grateful for having the grief. I feel like losing my mum so early was devastating, but it was also incredibly formative and it forced me to grow up in a way that I might not have done otherwise.
I feel very aware of her when I’m parenting my own child. Mainly, actually, I laugh a lot thinking about how she’d, you know, her prophecy of, “I can’t wait for you to have children one day so you know what it’s like,” when I was being so awful to her as a teenager. “I can’t wait.”
I sort of laugh along at that. And I feel like she would have really loved my son. She would have made a great grandmother, but she couldn’t be here and him be here at the same time, which is part of philosophical acceptance of the ebbing and flowing of life and love.
Everything that happens to us, both big and small, is the result of an infinite number of completely random choices and happenings.
Everything that led to my son being born was totally random, but it necessarily involved my mother dying, because otherwise I wouldn’t have been set on that track. And so there is some kind of acceptance in that: to have known these two profoundly great loves. Rather than feeling grief-stricken about them not knowing each other, and of course my son knows his grandmother through stories and I believe for my own personal satisfaction, I believe that in some sense the energy and the essence of my mother knows her grandson – but I also feel like rather than feeling sad about that, or rather than feeling overcome by fury at how unfair it seems, how lucky am I that I had these two people in my life?
Clementine: And that I’ve known the love of a mother and I’ve been a child. And I’ve also now got the opportunity to know the love of a child, and to know what it’s like to be their mother. And she taught me everything I needed to know.
Rosie: Yeah. That’s it, there is a gratitude and there is a sort of cyclical connection, even if things aren’t literally connecting. Like, you’re the connector between those two great loves and those two people.
Clementine: Well, and there’s a wonderful scientific fact that some of your listeners might know or not know, but if you are a person who is born with eggs and a uterus, and you have a baby – say you get pregnant with another person who is forming eggs and a uterus, then all of the genetic information for any egg that may be carried to pregnancy later on is formed in the womb at around 27 weeks. Which means that my mother, not only was she carrying me, but she was carrying half of the genetic information that ended up creating my child. Having that knowledge is so powerful, particularly when you find out that when people are pregnant, and they carry a baby, there’s like a chimera thing that happens where some of the genetic material from the unborn child enters the genetic make-up of the birthing parent and stays with them for years. So, you can test their DNA and their cells, and you’ll find celular evidence of the child that they carried maybe 20 years before.
So, my mother in particular carried me with her and some sense of her, or some sense of my child, is in me. So all of that stuff is really cool to think about, because it makes it easy to kind of let go and say, “the wonderful thing about life is that we’re born, but we have a season.” The same way that all loves have a season, 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.
Rosie: Exactly. Yeah. I couldn’t agree more. It gives you an appreciation, as well, when you do see a season close. But, like you say, we all continue anyway, through memory and things like that.
Clementine: Yeah. And through people’s grief. And that’s not even… someone doesn‘t have to die to have made a lasting impression on someone obviously. When we say goodbye to lovers and relationships end, if we’re grief-stricken about it and we cry and we wail, and we shake our fists at the sky, and we say, “but I love them, I love them!”
And then even that passes. One day the storm subsides, and you realise that you can move on. And there’s something really beautiful about that.
Rosie: What has it been like being on dating apps, and going back into dating after having been with your son’s father, after you separated. How’s that been?
Clementine: Quite demoralising, ultimately. Oh, you know, it’s tricky because I don’t want to really like first dates. Wow, I’m so unique in that way! Who likes first dates? They’re so awkward.
You know, this is weird to talk about because it’s sort of a little bit… I don’t know, I don’t want to sound like a dick, basically. Oh, sorry I should rephrase that: I don’t want to sound like a wanker. It’s hard to trust people, particularly in Melbourne, because I am reasonably wellknown, and it’s really hard to come to dating situations where you are at a disadvantage because the other person knows so much about you, and who they think you are, than you know about them.
And I worry in particular with dating women that I am aware of my shortcomings and I am aware of my fickle nature, let’s put it like that, and I also don’t have a lot of time. And I guess I’m more concerned about wasting women’s time than I am wasting cis men’s time. Which is, whatever, like a terrible thing to say, maybe, but…
I think I worry with women that I’m going to disappoint them with the reality of who I am. And with men, I worry that they don’t really want to date me, they just want to tell their next girlfriend they dated me.
Rosie: Yeah. I mean, there’s so much to unpack here, like more than we probably have time for in a podcast episode. It’s interesting that you’re kind of more cautious around the women. I suppose women have such a complex sort of maternal, empathetic way of being, so I don’t know if that comes into play. Obviously, you’ve explored [in your work] the kind of toxic masculinity that makes men at least perform the way they can be.
Clementine: Mmm. Well, I’m a very cautious person when it comes to, and always have been very cautious, when it comes to intimacy with other people.
I have a lot of… I wouldn’t even say it’s walls. It’s the Groucho Marx school of thinking that you don’t want to a member of any club that would have you as a member, you know. That I have this weird messed up thing of like, “if people are interested in me, then there must be something wrong with them.” Which is not a very uncommon way to feel about yourself – everyone has that kind of self-doubt and insecurity.
But I suppose it’s just made me incredibly cautious about getting involved with people at all. And I don’t know, yeah, I am a little bit more cautious around women’s feelings. That sounds so arrogant, like, “oh, I’m going to break their heart.” It’s not that at all. It’s that I feel, I guess, more conscious of taking care of their heart.
Which is not to say that men don’t need their hearts taken care of as well, it’s just that my experience has been they don’t need their hearts taken so much care of when it comes to internet dating.
And the thing about telling their next girlfriend: we all know the very self aware, progressive kind of feminist man, who is actauly not very feminist in their real life. I’m very wary of men who call themselves feminists – not because I don’t think men should be feminists, but I always wonder… I always think, ”well don’t tell me, show me.”
And I think that some men feel like I’m too much trouble, because they have to be on their best behaviour around me all the time. If that’s the way you feel then there’s something wrong with you, mate.
But also the reason as well, that I’m cautious, is that I’ve had a lot of experience of women telling me that men that they’ve met, or they maybe have matched with on a dating app, that they’ve dated me! And I’ve in some cases have never even met these men. I may have just matched with them on an app once, or met them through a friend, maybe, and they’ve described us as being friends. Like really wrapped up and hyped up their connection to me, if it even exists, as a means of tricking women I think. As a means of making them seem safe.
So I feel like I’ve got all of this paranoia and insecurity, some of it – well, it’s all really born out of stuff that is happening but that it makes it very hard to trust people.
Rosie: And we do all know those men that sort of tell you about how many Laura Bates or Clementine Ford books they’ve read.
Clementine: Oh, yeah. Proudly displayed, you know.
Rosie: Do you have a sort of memorable date you’ve had with a woman or non-binary or trans person? A favourite, or a funniest, or a, yeah, nice date anecdote there?
Clementine: The best dates I’ve been on have been the ones where, obviously, it feels very natural from the beginning and from the get go, but where even if it didn’t work out, that you’ve ended up having a deep connection with someone.
The book is dedicated to Alice, who I mention at numerous times. And I sort of explain the very first time Alice is mentioned, I say how I met her, but I don’t go into too many details. And then I just reference Alice throughout the book.
My editor said to me a few times, “do we need to, when she appears in different chapters, do we need to remind the reader again who Alice is?” And I said, “no, I want her to be just this figure that is in the book,” because Alice and I began romantically…
In fact, there was a great article that she sent me just yesterday, that was in the New Statesman, and it’s about Iris Murdoch and Philippa Foot, and how they had this intense love affair throughout their entire life, which was really platonic romance. And in the article they say, you know, oftentimes it’s suggested that relationships like this were secretly sexual in nature but hidden. But in this piece they said, but actually no, that’s not the case here, because Iris Murdoch and Philippa Foot did have a sexual relationship at one point, but then realised that the love that they had for each other was too big to reduce to just a sexual relationship – and that it needed to be expressed in other ways.
And that, for me, is what Alice is. You know, that she’s one of the great loves of my life and she’s demonstrated to me that that love can exist in a way that’s not quite platonic, but also doesn’t have to be sexual.
And, in fact, that’s something that my first girlfriend said to me when it was kind of wrapping up between us. We tried again – you know, we broke up for a bit and then we tried again – and we ended up realising that it wasn’t… I’ve just remembered this now… that it wasn’t going to work in that way. And we had this very frank discussion about how when we met, it was like our souls had met in some way, and the only way we had to understand what that meant, to have this deep love for someone else, which is exactly what happened to Philippa Foot and Iris Murdoch too, was to have sex; was to make it sexual. And for a time, that was great. But then, that ended up seeming too limiting.
Rosie: What gives Clementine Ford hope?
Clementine: I think the fact that, in our own experiences and what we witness in other people, I am made relentlessly hopeful by the fact that we keep trying. We keep trying, even when things haven’t worked out, whatever it might be, we remain in a constant state of trying.
And I think that’s one of the most beautiful things about humans, all of whom are obviously flawed, and we can do terrible things, but it’s like I said in the Acknowledgements [of the book] I think, the very last side of the Acknowledgements, is that humans are terribly flawed, and we do awful things to each other, but my God, how we love.
The title is not meant to “how we love” as a descriptor, “these are the ways that we love.” It’s actually meant to be, “oh, how we love.” How we as a species continue to pour ourselves into love.
And I just feel hopeful about that. You know, there’s that old sort of adage that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over, and expecting a different result. But 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 just one of the most beautiful things I can think of.
We all want to be loved, and we all want to be known, and we want to see other people and we want to be seen by them in return.
And that’s just a wonderful thing.
Rosie: Yeah. It’s really beautiful.
Well, thank you so so much for your time. Thanks for coming onto OUTcast, it’s been amazing to chat.
Clementine: Thank you so much, Rosie, it was so nice to talk to you and thanks very much to all of your listeners for listening in and tuning in. And I hope you all have wonderful lives!
Rosie: Amazing! Thanks so much.
Thank you for listening to OUTcast, the podcast with interviews and coming out stories from inspiring LGBTQ+ people all over the world.
That was our final episode of Season 1. I really hope you enjoyed hearing all about Clementine Ford’s thoughts on love, life, grief and experiences of being LGBTQ+.
Don’t forget to go back and listen to other episodes if you are new to the show and you’re here because you’re a fan of Clementine’s. We have a fascinating interview with Tilly Lawless, the Sydney-based queer sex worker and novelist, as well as the British transgender priest Sarah Jones, and Gogglebox Australia’s Tim Lai, of Tim and Leanne fame.
And there are so many other incredible guests with illuminating and uplifting coming out stories in our first season, which is available online at outcastpod.com and wherever you usually get your podcasts.
I’m your host, Rosie Pentreath. I do hope you can join us for Season 2 of OUTcast in 2022. Have a great day!