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Actress Miriam Margolyes Believes Her Coming Out Led to Mother's Death

Miriam Margoyles on a red carpet

Out British actress Miriam Margolyes, known by many as Professor Sprout in the Harry Potter film franchise or from her appearances on The Graham Norton Show, has revealed how she came out to her parents and her regret at doing so.

In a new excerpt from her book This Much Is True published by The Daily Mail, Margolyes described the romance that led to her coming out.

“At school, I'd had crushes on girls and they were all-consuming, but I didn't have a mature loving relationship until I was 27. Once I found her, I knew,” Margolyes wrote.

The woman she fell in love with was named Heather. After meeting her in 1968, they didn’t leave each other for a week. When Heather called the person she was supposed to be staying with during this time, she told them she liked Margolyes.

Margolyes overheard.

“Next to getting into Cambridge, that was the best moment of my life,” she wrote.

Soon after, Margolyes went to visit her parents who lived in Oxford. She told them she was a lesbian.

Her mother couldn’t get over it: “She and my father insisted I come into the drawing room and swear on the Torah never to have relations with a woman again. I did as they asked, but I broke my promise.”

The actress’s mother suffered stoke a few days after she came out. A more severe one happened several months later, leading to a downward spiral of health until Margolyes’ mother died in 1974.

“I always believed that my coming out in some way caused it,” Margolyes wrote.

“I had caused the person I loved most in the world a pain she could not bear. It was a horrendous time and I was very unhappy. I knew I couldn't change what I was; I should not have told them.”

Margolyes added that she believes that some people cannot accept a loved one for being LGBTQ+, and they shouldn’t have to if they can’t. She wrote that out British actor Ian McKellen, a friend of hers, has a different opinion than hers. For Margolyes, coming out is about the context and situation.

“He feels you should come out as an encouragement to others and be true to yourself,” Margolyes wrote. “It's better if people can truly be who they are meant to be — but my insistence on opening up hurt the ones I loved most in the world.”

While her mother’s death greatly impacted Margolyes, she’s been with Heather now for 53 years, according to her excerpt. Her partner lives in Holland, but they have houses in Australia and in Italy.

“In some ways it was fortuitous she had her stroke then, because had she been at full strength I feel sure she would have done her best to end my relationship with Heather — my partner, my love, my life,” Margolyes wrote.

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