When Sarah Bowles, 54, read today’s headlines about Phillip Schofield coming out as gay, the situation felt all too familiar.
In 2016, the mother-of-three appeared on ‘This Morning’ and told Schofield and co-host Holly Willoughby how her own former husband had come to the same conclusion, after 17 years of marriage.
“It felt weird, realising that when I was speaking to him I imagine he had his own issues at the time,” Bowles tells Yahoo UK.
The London-based comedian, whose marriage ended in 2007, says she never suspected Schofield could be going through the same battle her husband did.
She sends her well wishes to the 57-year-old, who today publicly thanked his wife and daughters for their “support and strength”.
Well isn’t life strange - I have only once been interviewed on relevions regarding being married to a gay husband and that was by you @Schofe God Bless you and your family at this tricky time #ThisMorning #philipschofield pic.twitter.com/Xt1tXSGOT4— Sarah Bowles (@fairybowles) February 7, 2020
Bowles’ ex-husband’s coming out did not happen in a similar way.
While she says both she and her children had identified and accepted her husband’s homosexuality, the “stigma” around being gay meant that he could not do the same.
The struggle left Bowles’ ex “suicidal”, she tells Yahoo UK.
“We got married in 1990 when AIDs was still terrifying,” she explains.
“I don’t know but assume that’s why my husband couldn’t come out at that point. He was in denial and would accuse me and the children of spreading lies when we tried to talk about it.”
Sadly, this lead to the breakdown of her marriage in 2007 and her ex-husband’s estrangement from their three children (two daughters and one son).
Some 13-years later, Bowles has moved past her experience and feels “at ease” with what happened – channelling her feelings through stand-up comedy.
However, she is heartened by Schofield’s announcement today. A sign, she says, that “the world has changed and things have moved on.”
“Phillip has taken away the taboo, he’s leaving families more empowered and hopefully there will be less damaged families in future”.
And for those families who are left in less amicable situations than Schofield’s, Bowles has some advice:
“Be as kind to yourself and your children as you can,” Bowles says. “You may have to be brave.
“Maybe more people will be talking about this kind of thing now but it’s not something you can speak to everyone and anyone about - not everyone will understand it, which can be isolating.”