Coming Out As Gay After A Heterosexual Marriage
The news that Philip Schofield has come out as gay, spread like wildfire through news outlets.
The 57-year-old, loveable presenter has witnessed countless people from all walks of life, arrive on his ‘This Morning’ sofa and tell their stories of their personal bravery and struggles, whilst battling his own personal struggle. The presenter stated that his sexuality had “become an issue in my head”.
“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.”
The struggle and internal dilemma faced by those who are gay but in what was considered a ‘conventional marriage’, will be unimaginable to many.
In recent years there have been many positive changes for the LGBT community, as well as changes in society, however the decision to come out, especially after many years of marriage is a truly difficult one.
Schofield’s statement put:
“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.
“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.”
Other celebrities who have announced their true sexuality later in life include former Labour politician Lord Andrew Adonis in October 2019. Lord Adonis had been married for 21 years and had two children with his wife, before separating and later announcing his sexuality. He stated “I tried to suppress it, as did so many of my contemporaries…you should be completely honest and open in public about who you are.”.
With the outpouring of support for the celebrities who have shared their stories, as well as the apparent support from their friends and families, the changes in social acceptance it raises the question whether there will be more marriages coming to an end due to one spouse coming to terms with their true sexuality.
For many who do chose to open up to both their spouse, the path will not be as supportive or amicable as those stated by Schofield and Adonis. Most will lead to heartache, ostracism and a family destroyed.
There is also the experience of the heterosexual spouse, who faces the potential stigma of a failed marriage, feelings of betrayal and concerns for any children.
We would love to hear from family lawyers about their experiences of clients who have ended a marriage due to admitting to their sexuality. What experience do you have in how to best supported your client, be that either the party ‘coming out’ or the heterosexual spouse.