Dame Kelly Holmes comes out as gay saying: “I’m finally free”
British Olympic legend Dame Kelly Holmes has come out as gay at 52 in an emotional new interview.
Speaking the Sunday Mirror during Pride Month, Dame Kelly spoke about her fear of coming out, having realised she was gay at 17 and after serving in the army which was hostile towards LGBTQ+ recruits, only making it legal to be queer in the armed forces in 2000.
Kelly, who won gold for Team GB in the 800m and 1500m races in Athens 2004, said she was overwhelmed with fear at being found out:
“Thousands of people had come to see me and there were even thanks from the Army”, she said.
“Winning gold was everything I dreamed of since I was a child. I come back from the Olympics and stand on a bus with two gold medals for my country – and all I’m thinking is, ‘What if somebody says something… that I had relationships with women when I was in the Army’? I was living in fear.”
It was the pandemic that seemed to make up Kelly’s mind for her after contracting coronavirus and reflecting on her own mortality.
Even though she was out to her close family, she kept it secret from everyone else and she talked about what her friends would think if she died not saying anything: “When I was lying on the sofa feeling awful I realised that if something happened to me, they’re the ones who would be saying, ‘It’s such a shame Kelly couldn’t stand there and be herself’.
Dame Kelly was accused of transphobia a few years back when talking about trans athletes in sport but said she was ‘far from’ transphobic.
Congratulations to her for living her truth.
Some Twitter reactions:
I’m so happy that Dame Kelly Holmes feels this way. And let’s not underestimate the impact of one of our greatest ever athletes – those two gold medal-winning performances are iconic – coming out as gay. Love and respect, Queen. https://t.co/1K0Zj6TmCu
— Nick Levine (@mrnicklevine) June 18, 2022
I absolutely love Dame Kelly Holmes. ❤️🥰 Pure class in every way! https://t.co/OWQc1BCBQE
— Mara Yamauchi (@mara_yamauchi) June 18, 2022