TV presenter Phillip Schofield became emotional and said he “wasn’t being honest with myself” as he talked publicly about his sexuality for the first time.
The This Morning host spoke to his co-presenter, Holly Willoughby, on the ITV show after revealing on his Instagram stories that he had “been coming to terms with the fact that I am gay”.
Schofield, who has been a fixture on the programme since 2002, has been married to wife Steph for more than 20 years and they have two daughters – Molly and Ruby.
He and Willoughby appeared as guests on the show, which on a Friday morning is normally hosted by Eamonn Holmes and Ruth Langsford.
The 57-year-old spoke of the support he has received, telling Willoughby: “It’s funny because everyone I have spoken to, you have all been so supportive, so loving and caring.
“My entire family, to a person, have grabbed us and said ‘It’s OK, we love you, we are proud of you’, and every person I tell, it gets a little lighter and a little lighter.
“But at the same time I’ve made this decision, which is essential for me and for my head, which is the reason why I’ve done this, I’m very aware that Steph and the girls are at home watching this. They have been supporting this as, we got to this moment.”
He added that while he felt “a little lighter” having made the announcement, he was also “very aware, there is no question that it causes pain and it causes upset”.
He said he has “no secrets” from his wife, adding: “We have never had any secrets.
“It’s tough, this is not something that has happened quickly, I’ve had to deal with this in my head for quite some time. We’ve been honest and open.”
After Willoughby commented that he had not had his “hand forced” to make the announcement, he said: “This is my decision. This is absolutely my decision. It was something I knew that I had to do.
“And I don’t know what the world will be like … I don’t know how this will be taken or what people will think. But what I would say is, yes, I am very, very conscious of the hurt and so my overriding emotion for my family is obviously going to be guilt because I do feel guilty that this can’t be anything other than a painful process.”
Before being joined by Holmes and Langsford on the show, he added: “All you can be in your life is honest with yourself and I was getting to the point where I wasn’t being honest with myself and I didn’t like myself very much because I wasn’t being honest with myself.”
Asked about the future and any “relationships that may develop”, he said: “No, I’m not thinking there. I’m doing each day at a time now and this has always been a slow process. There is no fast process after this. This is the big day and this is the day I knew everything was pointing towards.”
Following a round of hugs, Holmes praised him, saying: “Nobody should be embarrassed about their sexuality and it’s fantastic you have spoken out and there will be so many people who have been strengthened by what you’ve said.”
He added that he and wife Ruth would be “the first to stand by you”.
Celebrities including Gok Wan and David Walliams were among those also praising Schofield.
Fashion expert Wan tweeted: “So much love to you, such bravery”, while Walliams tweeted that he was “sending all my love to Phillip Schofield today”.
His tweet said: “I have always held him in the highest regard, and now have nothing but respect and admiration for him. Let’s hope we are moving towards a world where no-one has to come out anymore, they can just be who they are and celebrate that.”
Alongside a photograph of herself with Schofield, Willoughby wrote on Instagram: “Never been more proud of my friend than I am today.”
Announcing the news to his 2.7 million Instagram followers with a long message on his stories, Schofield wrote: “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.”
He thanked his family for their support and said Steph had been “incredible”, describing her as the “kindest soul I have ever met”.
His message ended with him writing: “Please be kind, especially to my family. Phillip”.
Schofield later thanked his fans for the support they had given him throughout Friday.
Writing on his Instagram story, he said: “You will never know how important your support has been today, I’ve read as much as I can.
“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 added the hashtag #bekind.