Phillip Schofield’s mother has told how proud she is of her “brave” and “inspiring” son for coming out.
When the TV presenter went to see his mum, Pat, to tell her he was gay, she told him: “I don’t care.”
The 83-year-old has spoken out following Schofield’s decision to open up about his sexuality publicly for the first time in a heartfelt chat on air with his This Morning co-host and close friend Holly Willoughby.
The TV star, who has two grown-up daughters with his wife, Steph, said he had been “coming to terms with the fact that I am gay” with the support of his family.
Schofield visited Pat at her home in Cornwall, where he grew up, to tell her the news before his public announcement.
In an interview with the Mirror, she said: “For him to be so brave in front of so many people was inspiring, because I know how hard it was for him to do.
“I love Steph and the girls more than anything in the world and I will always be there for them.
“When Phillip drove to Cornwall to tell me, the first thing I said was, ‘I don’t care’.
“Yes it was a shock, but nothing as a family that we can’t support and applaud.”
Schofield, 57, made the announcement in a social media post on Friday. Just minutes later, he sat on the This Morning sofa as a guest to speak out.
The final show of the week is usually hosted by Eamonn Holmes and Ruth Langsford, but Schofield took part to be interviewed by Willoughby, 38, who read out a statement revealing his years of struggling with being gay.
It said: “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.”
Schofield, who met Steph, 55, while she worked in production and he on a BBC children’s TV show, said his wife of more than 20 years has been “incredible”, and added: “She is the kindest soul I have ever met.”
He also said their daughters have been “astonishing in their love”.
Schofield said 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.
“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,” he said. “We’ve been honest and open.”
Later on Friday, he posted a message on social media to thank fans, telling them: “You will never know how important your support has been today.”
Using the hashtag #bekind, he added: “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 and family have a remarkable ability to surprise you with their love and understanding.”
Schofield’s decision to come out received widespread praise from fans, friends and celebrities.
Willoughby said she had “never been more proud of my friend than I am today”, while Ant and Dec, Will Young, David Walliams, Davina McCall, Matt Lucas and Dermot O’Leary were among stars to post messages of support on social media.
In an interview with Sky News, singer Young, who came out publicly as gay shortly after winning Pop Idol in 2002, said Schofield was an “inspiration”.