Olympic gold winner Kelly Holmes announces she is gay

by 24britishtvJune 19, 2022, 3 p.m. 14
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SOCIAL media has been flooded with support for one of Britain’s most celebrated Olympic champions, Kelly Holmes, who announced that she is gay today, saying she “needed to do this now.”

Speaking during Pride month, the two-time Olympic gold medal winner said she realised she was gay at the age of 17 after kissing a fellow female soldier, and that her family and friends have known since 1997.

She told the Sunday Mirror: “I needed to do this now, for me. It was my decision. I’m nervous about saying it. I feel like I’m going to explode with excitement. Sometimes I cry with relief. The moment this comes out, I’m essentially getting rid of that fear.”

Holmes, 52, who was made Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire in 2005 for services to athletics, also revealed that she had struggled with her mental health because of having to hide her sexuality, and that she had to keep several same-sex relationships she had during her time in the Women’s Royal Army Corps secret for fear of being court martialed.

Until 2000, it was illegal for gay, lesbian and bisexual people to serve in the Army, Navy and RAF — and Dame Kelly feared she would still face repercussions for breaking that law during her time in the forces.

She contacted a military LGBTQ+ leader in 2020 to find out if she could be sanctioned for breaking army rules and was told she would not be. She said: “I felt like I could breathe again, one little call could have saved 28 years of heartache.”

LGBTQ+ campaigning charity Stonewall said on Twitter: “Congratulations to Dame Kelly Holmes on coming out as gay. Kelly’s story shows that overcoming stigma to live proudly and authentically can take decades, and at huge personal cost. We need to fight prejudice at every corner so that all LGBTQ+ people are free to be.”

One of Britain’s greatest middle-distance athletes, Holmes won gold medals in the 800 and 1,500m events at the 2004 Olympics in Athens and went on to win the BBC Sports Personality of the Year that year. On retirement she has became a motivational speaker, written books, and is a familiar figure on TV.

Dame Kelly set up a charity in 2008 created to support retired athletes to transition out of their sport and to create mentoring programmes to inspire young people from disadvantaged backgrounds into sports.

Now she has started to make a documentary about her experiences called Being Me, where she talks to LGBTQ+ soldiers about their lives in the military now.

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