'Why saying you always knew Phillip Schofield is gay is homophobic'

Phillip Schofield attending the British Grand Prix at Silverstone, Towcester. (Photo by David Davies/PA Images via Getty Images)
TV presenter Phillip Schofield pictured at the British Grand Prix (Getty)

Adam is a journalist from London who writes about LGBTQ+ experiences and issues.

This is his day, not ours. Coming out, I should know, takes potentially years of your energy to work up to. It isn't an experience you want stolen or hijacked by anybody else.

And yet, when Phillip Schofield came out earlier today there was an audible murmur from a number of armchairs across the UK.

"I always knew," they said on Twitter, as if Schofield had survived such a sustained period of closetedness on the tellybox by privately whingeing to a select few viewers about his secret sexuality.

Of course, no one knew. No one other than him, and perhaps his wife, Steph. Maybe his closest friends and family in the more recent days, months and years.

No one knew, because there is no way to know. I've met countless men that have presented as camp but have told me in great detail about their lusts for the opposite sex.

Read more: ‘Phillip Schofield proves it’s never too late to come out as gay - and that is truly inspirational’

Those people may be camp but also straight, or they may be bisexual, or they may be queer - the umbrella term I prefer to use to describe people who feel different to 'straight' - but crucially, no-one else knows other than that person, regardless of what people may think, so it's important to hold back from sharing our assumptions.

It’s important because these assumptions may be very damaging as well as very wrong.

How damaging? Well, the assumption that someone is gay based upon the way they act (what else could you base this presumption about Schofield on?) is inherently homophobic.

As I said, lots of people who present as camp aren't gay, and vice versa, so to assume all camp-presenting people are gay is to reduce homosexuality to one specific ‘recognisable’ image, perhaps from certain TV shows.

It is likening all gay people to one particular gay trope.

Read more: Phillip Schofield reveals mum’s support when he came out as gay

But of course, gay people come in all shapes and sizes and look and act very differently.

So it's crucial to avoid reducing gay people to reductive, toxic stereotypes of campness.

Plus, as these individuals literally didn't "always know”, it's unfair that they steal the thunder away from Schofield by implying that his revelation is old news.

This isn't old news: this is probably the most important news to have left Schofield's mouth in the past decade, maybe two. It’s perhaps his biggest personal news since his children were born.

Read more: ‘Phillip Schofield interviewed me when my husband came out as gay’

Much of his confidence as a gay man forming his new identity will hinge on the catharsis he will have felt when he told this story. Speaking his truth will help his pain be alleviated.

As he poignantly said in his statement: "Only by facing this, by being honest, can I hope to find peace in my mind and a way forward."

You didn't always know. At times like these, it's important to listen quietly rather than shout loudly. This is Phillip Schofield's story. His truth. Let him speak it himself.