Entertainment & Arts

Phillip Schofield: Support for ITV presenter after he comes out as gay

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Media captionPhillip Schofield on ITV's This Morning: "Every person I tell, it gets a little lighter"

TV presenter Phillip Schofield has received an outpouring of support after revealing he is gay.

The 57-year-old, who has two daughters with wife Stephanie Lowe, made the announcement via a statement on Instagram.

"Huge respect and admiration for our friend Schofe," tweeted fellow ITV presenters Ant and Dec. "Sending love to you P, and your 3 lovely girls ❤️."

Dermot O'Leary, David Walliams and James Corden also applauded him.

"Takes a lot of guts to do this, not least when you're a very public figure and know it will all be dissected in a very public way," said Good Morning Britain host Piers Morgan. "Sending my very best to Schofe and his family."

Schofield, who has been married to Lowe for 27 years, said in his statement: "Today, quite rightly, being gay is a reason to celebrate and be proud.

"Yes, I am feeling pain and confusion, but that comes only from the hurt that I am causing to my family."

He later thanked fans for their support and urged others to reach out for help in a post on Instagram.

"Please please, no matter your age or your thoughts, TALK to someone, don't let your head beat you and hopefully you'll find out that your friends & family have a remarkable ability to surprise you with their love and understanding," he wrote.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Schofield presents Dancing on Ice and This Morning with Willoughby

Schofield presents ITV programmes including Dancing On Ice and This Morning, which won a National Television Award last week.

The presenter was interviewed by his co-host Holly Willoughby on Friday's edition of This Morning.

"You know this has been bothering me for a very long time," he said. "Everybody does this at their own speed when the time is right."

The presenter added his sexuality has recently "become an issue in my head".

"All you can be in your life is honest with yourself and I was getting to the point where I knew I wasn't honest with myself. I was getting to the point where I didn't like myself very much because I wasn't being honest with myself.

"[Coming out] is my decision. This is absolutely my decision. It was something I knew that I had to do. I don't know what the world will be like now. I don't know how this will be taken or what people will think."

But Schofield said he is not ready yet for a relationship with a man.

Phillip Schofield's statement in full:

"You never know what's going on in someone's seemingly perfect life, what issues they are struggling with, or the state of their wellbeing - and so you won't know what has been consuming me for the last few years. With the strength and support of my wife and my daughters, I have been coming to terms with the fact that I am gay.

"This is something that has caused many heart-breaking conversations at home. I have been married to Steph for nearly 27 years, and we have two beautiful grown-up daughters, Molly and Ruby. My family have held me so close - they have tried to cheer me up, to smother me with kindness and love, despite their own confusion. Yet still I can't sleep and there have been some very dark moments.

"My inner conflict contrasts with an outside world that has changed so very much for the better. Today, quite rightly, being gay is a reason to celebrate and be proud. Yes, I am feeling pain and confusion, but that comes only from the hurt that I am causing to my family.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Phillip Schofield and wife Stephanie Lowe, pictured in November

"Steph has been incredible - I love her so very much. She is the kindest soul I have ever met. My girls have been astonishing in their love, hugs and encouraging words of comfort. Both my and Steph's entire families have stunned me with their love, instant acceptance and support.

"Of course they are worried about Steph, but I know they will scoop us both up. My friends are the best, especially Holly, who has been so kind and wise - and who has hugged me as I sobbed on her shoulder. At ITV, I couldn't hope to work with more wonderful, supportive teams.

"Every day on This Morning, I sit in awe of those we meet who have been brave and open in confronting their truth - so now it's my turn to share mine. This will probably all come as something of a surprise and I understand, but only by facing this, by being honest, can I hope to find peace in my mind and a way forward.

"Please be kind, especially to my family."

Social media was filled with support for Schofield after his announcement on Friday morning.

The BBC's Victoria Derbyshire added: "So much love for Schofe for his open, honest, dignified statement."

Dancing on Ice star Ian H Watkins, who recently made history by dancing with his same-sex partner on the show, welcomed Schofield to "our beautiful rainbow family!"

Richard Osman of BBC One's Pointless said: "When you create a new entertainment show and start discussing who should host, the first name on the list is always Phillip Schofield. That's a fact.

"He's just the very best at what he does, and the public adore him. Looking forward to many more years of his charm and brilliance."

'Playing catch-up'

Schofield found fame on children's TV in the 1980s alongside Gordon the Gopher in the BBC's Broom Cupboard, and on Saturday morning show Going Live!

He has starred in the West End in Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat and Doctor Dolittle, and fronted TV game shows like Talking Telephone Numbers and Schofield's Quest before joining This Morning in 2002.

The programme has won at the National Television Awards for 10 years in a row, including the prize for best live magazine show at last month's ceremony.

Image caption Sarah Greene and Phillip Schofield presenting Going Live! in 1987

Schofield also presents a programme with his wife every December where they review Christmas gifts.

Entertainment reporter Caroline Frost told BBC Radio 5 Live that stars from the previous generation were likely to have been told in the past that coming out as gay could damage their careers.

"You see all these young stars coming through and they don't have to think about it," she said. "They're fluid. They just define their own terms.

"But a lot of those older entertainers are having to play catch-up. They branded themselves and were probably advised 'Don't come out because it will ruin your following'.

"So they are having to catch-up and climb back up the hill of enjoying the same privileges that have come very naturally to that new generation."

'Huge moment'

Analysis by Ben Hunte, LGBT correspondent

"Coming out" is a moment which unites all LGBT people, whether they are eventually able to do it, or not. Some never will.

Social media reactions show that this is being seen as an incredibly brave decision for Philip Schofield to make. Whilst Schofield is seen as a national treasure, and someone trusted with hearing deep and personal experiences on a daily basis, for him to become the story is wholly different.

When someone with such a massive public platform comes out as LGBT, their entire life in the public eye is suddenly questioned, with some on-lookers inevitably claiming they "knew all along". In many cases, the person coming out may not have even known, let alone their family and friends.

LGBT acceptance in the UK has changed dramatically over the past few decades. Whilst there are still issues, on the whole, people are much more free to be themselves than ever before. As a result, national LGBT charities such as the LGBT Foundation now offer tailored 'coming out' guidance to the growing numbers of LGBT people who are choosing to come out later in life, helping them navigate any barriers they may face.

This huge moment for Phillip Schofield may just be the green light that others need to come out themselves.

Information and support: If you or someone you know needs support for issues about sexuality, these organisations may be able to help.

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