The Philip Fallout

One of the biggest stories this week was the news that Phillip Schofield had come out as gay. Everybodyyyyy was talking about this, from my lecturers, to my class mates, to the Amazon delivery driver while I signed for my package!

First announced on social media and followed quickly by a discussion on Phillip’s day time show This Morning, the news came with mixed responses.

Many people were happy and encouraged him to speak out about his sexuality. However, there is always a debate rumbling in the media and Twittersphere (controversy on Twitter? Shock horror, I know). Many people were quick to criticise Philip and draw attention to how this impacted his children and wife of 27 years.

Many of these criticisms were presented with harsh language branding Philip as a ‘liar’ and a ‘cheat’ for marrying his wife while knowing he was gay.

Clearly there were a lot of homophobic elements to this abuse, hiding behind the defence of Schofield’s wife and kids. However, I think a lot of this also came from millennials (like me) who truly can’t remember a time when being gay was seen as something so terrible that it had to be hidden away at all costs. Therefore, a lot of people couldn’t wrap their heads around why Philip had chosen to ‘lie’ for so long.

I admit, I was quite naive to how the media and others treated LGBT people in the not so distant past. Scrolling through my twitter feed on the day that the news was announced I saw a headline from the Daily Mail that I could not believe was allowed to be published.

I looked at the date of this article thinking I would see something along the lines of the 50s, maybe 60s at a push, but no…1993. I was honestly shocked. This kind of thing was happening in the 90s? Three years before I was born? I found it hard to comprehend that this kind of rhetoric was casually published less than 30 years ago in mainstream newspapers. As I researched deeper, I found this headline was not the only one of it’s kind, far from it.

Another event that was taking place in 1993, when this article was published? Philip Schofield married his wife. These are the type of headlines and casual homophobia that Philip was up against at the time of his marriage. It’s not hard to see why he would want to keep his sexuality quiet.

I feel like a lot of people criticising Schofield for ‘lying’ to his wife were either too young to remember when attitudes like these were mainstream or weren’t born at all. Therefore, it’s easy to criticise Schofield’s decision to not be truthful with his wife.

A lot of the millennial generation (including me, if I’m honest) live in an echo chamber. Technology has allowed us to to tailor the information we receive to our own beliefs. Wether we only read the newspapers that support similar values to our own or only follow people on social with similar views, we often forget that there are and were opposing views on things that we see as mainstream.

The only thing that can be taken from such ignorance to the homophobia of the past is that our society is thankfully, rapidly moving on from those views. This was most clearly illustrated in the fact that for every occasional negative comment Philip received there were a sea of well wishers commending him for his bravery.

10 thoughts on “The Philip Fallout

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  1. I agree. It’s very easy to pass judgments based on present day cultural awareness, but unless we were around at that time and living in the same cultural context that person was, there’s no way way to have any real idea of the pressures they were faced with.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Absolutely, I know a lot of my friends (and myself) really can not remember a time when it was mainstream to be prejudice against LGBT members of society! I can’t even imagine how hard it would be to come out in that type of society!

      Liked by 2 people

  2. I grew up when he was a children’s presenter and I dont think he would have gotten as far in his career if he had been upfront about it at the start, I still remember the whole if you were gay and working with children, then you must be a pedophile mind set, so I completely understood why he didn’t come out and tried to bury it.

    However, I also dont quite agree with the whole, he is very brave and very much focused on him, when he does have a wife he has lied to for nearly 3 decades, my only hope is that she has known for a while and has had time to adjust before he came out

    Liked by 1 person

    1. His job as a Kids tv show presenter is something that has been highlighted a lot and I totally agree with you on that.

      I do understand what you are saying about his wife and kids though. I am definitely not excusing that at all, just trying to make some sense of it

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I was thinking about this earlier and I still can’t name a childrens TV presenter who is openly gay, so its possible the stigma is still very much there, although my son is now 7 so we have moved off those sort of programmes and am on to Pokemon.

        The problem with this type of thing is the rumours that are then flooding, I have heard he was in a relationship and when they broke up the other person was threatening to go to the press with evidence, ultimately he is brave to come out but in the process of him denying it he has lied to a woman for 30 years, but also this does happen, people do try and fit into the normal bubble society provides for them and its sad he has had to hide it for so long and I can imagine it was not an easy decision for him, what is brave is his family standing by him

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  3. Interesting observation. I have typically felt that my generation has moved their bigotry to transphobia. Sadly on facebook I see friends who are progressive in pretty much every other respect share transphobic memes. On that note, there is a style of transphobia I have noticed similar to the ‘lying’ charge which I’m agnostic about; and that is demanding that a transgender person who passes as the gender they identify as has to disclose that they are transgender when dating/courting someone who is cisgender. Your thoughts?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That’s such an interesting point and I completely agree. There is still a ton of prejudice towards trans people, even in my generation. I think that most of this is down to the fact that it is a relatively new way for people to identify (at least in the mainstream). I also believe that transphobia does not face the same outcry that homophobia does, for example Piers Morgan is allowed to rant against it on prime time morning television with little to no consequences.

      I think the question of wether trans people should disclose that they are trans when courting/dating someone is a tricky one. On the one hand I don’t believe anyone should be obligated to give up information about themselves until they want to and have the right to disclose that for as long as they want. On the other hand I think it is important to be honest with someone you are dating in all cases and that it would be weird to hide such a huge part of your life from them. However in the early stages of a relationship I really don’t know if it’s necessary and I definitely do not think that anyone should be forced to disclose it if they don’t want to. What are your thoughts?

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Yes my thoughts are similar. My stance is contextual, perhaps early stage or one night stands I am fine with non disclosure. However, if a relationship were to develop as you say the keeping of significant secrets tends to be not a great start. And of course intentions of a serious relationship it would need to come up (wanting to have kids for example). Yes in Australia we have many of our own Piers Morgans, and I agree for many the concept of being transgender is still counterintuitive to many. For instance attempting to convince someone of the sex/gender distinction is at times just as difficult as convincing a climate denier of the weather/climate distinction.

        Liked by 1 person

  4. Totally agree that people like to minimize the homophobia gay men faced and still face, especially around kids, that’s definitely a real mindset and easy for people who it doesn’t affect to ignore.

    To be honest, I actually don’t feel like he was lying, as I don’t think he had come out to himself. It takes a lot of courage and self-reflection to realise your sexuality, and there’s millions of available reasons to ignore a minority sexuality, as he said himself, he was so happy on his wedding day that he didn’t want to acknowledge any of the other feelings he had, or even think about what they were.

    I think it’s an excellent example of why people should be encouraged to be experimental about their sexuality early on; for the people concern-trolling about his family/wife. With unrecognised homophobia, it’s the same people who concern-troll about young kids being confused about their sexuality/gender.

    It’s time that people realise by forcing people to minimise and deny their LGBT feelings, we ultimately only force them to be *inauthentic*, which cannot end well for them or for the people around them.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I agree with you, I don’t necessarily feel like he was lying either and maybe he just hadn’t figured it out for himself yet. I used that term because it was being thrown around a lot on twitter and I wanted to address it.

      I completely agree that people are forced to be inauthentic by prejudice in society, especially at the time Philip married his wife. That’s why I think it’s so important to contextualise this story. I think a lot of people forget the casual homophobia that was common place in society at the time.

      Liked by 1 person

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