Our Chat With Jessica Clark – Host Of The First US Lesbian Dating Competition Show ‘Coming Out For Love’

‘Coming Out For Love’ host Jessica Clark

Kicking off Valentine’s Day in sexy style this year was the new series ‘Coming Out for Love’ (COFL), the first US lesbian dating competition show from prolific queer filmmaker Nicole Conn (‘A Perfect Ending’, ‘Elena Undone’, ‘More Beautiful For Having Been Broken’). With episodes 1 and 2 premiering on February 14 and now available to watch on the show’s official website Comingoutforlove.com, this show is set to change the reality dating show game while also providing some thought-provoking conversations, and authentic viral moments.

Host Jessica Clark, LGBTQ+ icon and activist, guides the sixteen queer women living together under one roof through emotional and physical challenges to win weekly keys that unlock the heart of Season One’s Single and Key Master, influencer, and activist Amber Whittington. 

Episode 2 titled “The N Word” unexpectedly dives into an intense and sensitive racial conversation that showcases an intense, raw, and emotional exchange from the Black, Asian, Latina, and deaf contestant’s perspectives; a very real example of the sensitive issues the show does not avoid or sugarcoat. Racy sexual encounters and not so “pc” moments build week by week. 

The 16-episode series was filmed entirely on location at the Palm Palace in Palm Springs, CA and features a veritable who’s who of queer celebrities as judges and guests, including Sedona Prince (Oregon Ducks basketball star), Stoney Michelli Love (CEO and founder of Stuzo Clothing), Caroline Rose Giuliani (filmmaker, political activist, writer), Whitney Mixter (Showtime’s ‘The Real L Word’), Jill Osur (gender, racial and social activist, CEO Teneral Cellars wines), fashion designer Nik Kacy (founder of Equality Fashion Week ), Franco Stevens (‘Curve’) and her wife, Jen Rainin (‘Ahead of the Curve’), singer/songwriter Tanerélle, and country music singer, Brooke Eden. 

Host Jessica Clark is a British model and actress of Irish, Indian, and Nigerian descent. She is known for her roles in such films and series as ‘True Blood’, ‘Season of Love’, ‘ALIEN: Harvest’, and ‘A Perfect Ending’.

We had the chance to speak with her around the time of the series premiere to learn more about her career journey, what she hopes audiences will love most about the show, and why it was important to showcase some authentic moments of struggle between the contestants as a way to further conversations that will empower the LGBTQ+ community.

We are excited to watch the first US lesbian dating competition show! Can you tell us how you got involved with the project initially?

Nicole Conn, the shows Creator and Director initially approached me about hosting ‘Coming Out For Love’. She had cast me as one of her leads on the feature film ‘A Perfect Ending’ some years ago, we’d had a wonderful experience working together and had followed each others careers since then.

You are originally from the UK and are known as an actress, presenter and model. Where did your career path begin?

I won a Model Search competition with Models1 UK Model Agency, and the ‘Big Breakfast’ Channel 4 TV show.

When you first heard about Coming Out For Love, what got you excited about the premise?

As a queer, multiethnic woman, I am immediately drawn to the stories and visibility of my communities. My initial thought was that I’d love to be able to watch a show like that, where queer people get to go on this journey of romance and excitement, competition and potentially love. My next thought was that I’d only be willing to host a show like COFL if I believed that it would be a genuinely diverse representation of queer women. And I’m proud to say that it is, and this will continue to grow and evolve in future seasons.

Who were some of the most interesting characters on the show?

That’s genuinely a difficult question. There are so many fascinating women throughout Season 1 amongst our cast, who hail from big cities and small towns, as well as places that may not be very accepting of LGBTQ+ people. One woman is from Ukraine, and has not come out to her much-loved parents. This coming-out conversation happens during her time on the show.

There are so many different lived experiences that they share with us. We were so fortunate to gather a group of women that were willing to have the difficult, deep conversations, as well as all the fun, sexy, romantic date times, and pool parties.

We also have a wonderful group of guest judges that contribute so much to the show; Jill Osur of Teneral Cellars who makes delicious wines while focusing on supporting and uplifting other LGBTQ+ small businesses, Stoney Michelli Love created the gender-free, human-focused ‘Stuzo Clothing’ brand. Caroline Guiliani, as a political activist and writer, discusses sex and intimacy with the women, and the many different ways that love can be expressed.

COFL works on the immediate level – gorgeous, intelligent queer women on their romantic, fun, frothy journey into finding love. And when you scratch the surface, we find all this depth, and rawness, conflict and vulnerability. It’s quite the ride!

The show is being released at a time when politically speaking across the US, we are seeing some troubling bills taking LGBTQ+ rights backward, harming queer youth especially. How can a show like this also be a force for good, as well as a fun reality show to watch?

I think research shows that the most effective way to change public perception is interpersonal or in-person contact. So going to school with, working with people from a marginalized group significantly reduces previously held prejudice. In the case of the LBGTQ+ community, often it is not safe to be public about your identity etc so getting to know peoples stories, characters journeys, being able to watch it in private on your TV, laptop or phone, it humanizes us. We become real people with real lives and dreams.

And to go even further, coming out as a member of the LGBTQ+ community can, and in the past often has been, a traumatic experience for many queer people. Those truths and bravery continue to need to be depicted on screen. But there is so much joy in the journey as well. And COFL shows that joy. That joy is real and free. And while yes, there is a determined effort to steal back our human rights in a number of US states, the facts show that the rapid and widespread change in public opinion of the LGBTQ+ is significant and lasting.

Visibility is a part of creating and continuing that change. It works.

Behind the scenes on Season 1 of ‘Coming Out For Love’

Episode 2 of the series dives into issues of racism among the contestants. Can you share more about this, and why you think it will be a pivotal one to watch?

Episode 2, which we released as a two-part Series Premier on Feb 14th is a powerful one. It’s also, as much as it is possible to be, a completely organic piece of Reality TV. We did not know about the pre-existing history between our phenomenal lead and one of the women. COFL had made a commitment to create and hold space for the women, they were not expected to deliver lines, or behave in any particular way.

There’s sometimes a misconception that just because someone is a member of the LGBTQ+ community, that they are automatically free from prejudice about other cultures or communities. That is far from true. Racial prejudice, implicit bias, ableist behavior still exists.

And we were so blown away by the women, with how honest and raw they were prepared to be. I’m very grateful because they were so willing to share their truth. They elevated the show, making it a deeper exploration into love and self-love in our community.

Behind the scenes on Season 1 of ‘Coming Out For Love’

One of the contestants who is deaf confronts the other women at one point, sparking a conversation about disability and visibility. What do you hope audiences will learn about this moment?

I believe that learning is a lifelong process – we all carry misconceptions, especially around ableism. It is about whether we’re prepared to listen, absorb and maybe evolve our understanding about other humans. That is the energy that one of our contestants Michelle brings when she confronts the other women by saying to another contestant, “hey, you need to listen and understand how your behavior effects others”.

I am grateful to Michelle that she was willing to shoulder that emotional labor, to explain some of this to the group & the audience and I hope people listen to her and make it a point to possibly do better in the future. It’s intersectionalism in action – we’re all queer, but we’re all so much more as well.

As a queer icon and activist yourself, what have been some of the challenges you faced throughout your career, whether it be about your sexuality or your skin color?

A career in high fashion and/or entertainment is always going to be challenging. They are very subjective industries, there’s no linear journey where you can move from stage A to B to C. There’s also no real way to know for sure why you do or do not get a certain job. So of course there have, and continue to be, challenges.

But I also have so much privilege; yes I’m BIPOC but I’m very light-skinned. I’m queer but I present as a cis woman, my appearance tends towards more western conventional attractiveness. So I live in gratitude and try to create space for others that aren’t necessarily afforded the same privilege.

Behind the scenes on Season 1 of ‘Coming Out For Love’

What do you hope viewers will love most about this show?

I hope that they can see the authenticity, the love and celebration of our amazing community. I hope they form connections with our amazing contestants, that they see our fantastic guest judges and all the wonderful things they’re accomplishing out there in the world. It’s a love letter to our community and I hope it’ll be received in that way. Of course, viewers can also have as many opinions as they want. Nothing is perfect and we’re very much willing to learn from our viewers as well.

If you could sum up “Coming Out For Love” in 3 words, what would they be?


You can watch Jessica Clark in action on ‘Coming Out For Love’ by clicking HERE.

‘Coming Out For Love’ host Jessica Clark

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