Handsome DIY expert and television carpenter Phil Turner and his glamorous husband Gary Cockerill, a celebrity make-up artist were one of the first gay couples to obtain a civil partnership in the UK.
The couple weren’t shy about their decision, and the stunning ceremony with their celeb chums made showbiz headlines, dominating the front cover of OK magazine for the first time in LGBTQ history.
Earlier this year, the couple officially tied the knot with a spectacular showbiz wedding at London’s famous Café Royal. Yet the LGBTQ press have all but ignored these positive role models…UNTIL NOW! However, the mainstream tabloids have embraced the pair, bringing the subject of gay marriage into lives and households which may not have been reached otherwise.
Steven Smith, who was a guest at their wedding having known the couple for over 25 years, chats with Phil Turner about what makes the ‘Ideal Gay Husband’.
You could be the poster guys for Gay Marriage. What makes your relationship of over twenty-five years work?
The four-letter word LOVE makes our relationship work. Realising that nobody is perfect and being able to forgive each other is really important. If you really love one another it goes a long way when you argue, as all couples do. But it mends most things – we’ve only split up once in our time together, for one day, and it was by far the longest day of both of our lives. It’s okay to bicker with one another and it’s good to talk everything out, and we do a lot of both. Gary is my soulmate, my lover and my husband all rolled into one.
How did you meet your husband Gary?
We met in a gay bar in Hammersmith, London. Gary said he could not take his eyes off of me – I was well-built and modelling at the time, wearing a tight white t-shirt. I didn’t have to go on a no-carbs diet like I did for the wedding back then.
He was shy and gorgeous, but apparently straight at the time. His girlfriend and his gay roommate were in tow. Strangely, I ended up dating the roommate, but Gary was always on my mind and he had a way of always popping into the room while I was there.
One-night Gary was the DJ at the venue I was at and I plucked up the courage to ask him, ‘Are you gay?’ And that was it, I just knew he was the one.
Who proposed to whom?
Well, we already had a civil partnership and, despite scepticism, we are just as in love with each other now. It got to Gary’s 50thand he said, ‘Let’s get married.’ It was a beautiful wedding in front of all of our friends and family at the Café Royal. Melinda Messenger, who has been our friend for a long time, read a poem and we danced until the early hours.
You were the first gay couple to feature in OK Magazine with a spectacular civil partnership. Was there any backlash or homophobic abuse as a result of being so public?
Surprisingly, we never had any backlash or much homophobic abuse – we were lucky. Of course, we are in the spotlight so there were the odd trolls and comments, but it was a gamble being so open. Gary and I are very grateful to OK Magazine for giving us a platform, as it is really important to show that gay love is just like any other love.
We are also so grateful to have the support of great friends such as the beautiful Barbara Windsor, Melinda Messenger and Katie Price, to name but a few, who stood by our sides at our civil partnership. It made people stop and think who might not have wanted to hear about the subject. Despite being one of the first gay couples to go public, the LGBTQ press did not want to know.
How did your families react to the news that you were officially getting married this year?
They said ‘but you’re already married!’ We had to explain we were only civil partners, and since the law has changed we could become married for real. They all looked amazing at the wedding. My mum was the first person I told that I had fallen for Gary.
Gary is one of the UK’s most renowned make-up artists. He has his own make-up line coming out soon, and you launched your own interior design company last year. How much do you both get involved in each other’s work lives?
We both help each other as much as possible. You’ll often see me carrying Gary’s bags, and for a long time, sometimes even now, people have thought I do the hair! But we are a team so we’re involved in all aspects of each other’s lives, both the good and the bad.
What’s the most romantic thing you have ever done for Gary?
It is one big romance so nothing massive stands out. We treat each other all the time by going to the theatre etc. I love to cook and do all the cooking, so sometimes I put on a surprise special meal for just the two of us.
What advice would you give other LGBTQ couples thinking of getting married?
One, don’t throw the towel in the minute you argue. Treasure the days you are together. Include your families and friends in your lives – it’s not healthy to be too co-dependent. I’ve had three ceremonies now with Gary and there is nothing better than being in a room full of people you love and feeling loved back. It’s amazing waking up next to the one you are meant to be with.
Have you thought about starting a family? If so, how would you go about it?
We have a family of fur babies and now have a new baby Maltipoo called Chloe. Lola and Scarlet are just about accepting her. We have enough children in our life including our nephews, nieces and friends’ children, so I think that’s good enough for us for now. But who knows what might happen in the future?
What are you and Gary doing for Christmas?
We have Gary’s parents coming to stay for Christmas. Then we’re doing a tour of the rest of our family who are dotted around the country. New York first, which, talking of romance, is so romantic and our favourite city.