Dame Kelly Holmes comes out as gay during Pride Month

Olympic hero Dame Kelly Holmes has come out aged 52. He broke 34 years of silence to tell the world: “I am gay.”

Superstar announced sunday mirror To mark Pride Month. Behind a beaming smile, Dame Kelly said she had been living a ‘secret life’ for decades.

She admitted: “There have been so many dark times where I wanted to scream that I was gay — but I can’t.” She also revealed several key moments that led to the reveal.

In a heart-wrenching interview, she revealed a scary brush with Covid that made her realize she needed to – and wants – to show the world her ‘true self’. And that bottling things up started a breakdown and made him commit suicide.

She says she was a 17-year-old soldier when she first realized he was gay. It came when a female comrade kissed her.

Dame Kelly Holmes.
(Image: Sunday Mirror)

But the fear of being prosecuted – at a time when homosexuals were banned from the forces – forced her to keep quiet. At one point his barracks were raided in search of evidence of homosexual relations.

She was also afraid of being ‘out’ or judged. He said the fear tainted a parade after he won 800 and 1,500 meters gold in Athens in 2004.

After years of pain, and fully aware of the rumors about her sexuality, she is grateful to have delivered the news on her own terms. Kelly said: “I need to do it now, for me. It was my decision. I’m terrified to say it. I feel like I’m going to explode with excitement.

“Sometimes I cry with relief. The moment it comes up, I’m essentially getting rid of that fear.”

Dame Kelly also feared retroactive action for violations of the Force’s rules. She continued: “I was convinced all my life that I would still be in trouble if I admitted to being gay in the military.”

Kelly Holmes In Platinum Jubilee.
Kelly Holmes in Platinum Jubilee.
(Image: David Parry/PA Wire)

Family and close friends have known for years that Kelly is gay. She has a partner and, while she doesn’t want to give details, she smiles and says: “This is the first time I’ve had someone I wouldn’t introduce as a PA or friend.”

Of past partners, she adds: “No disrespect to them, but relationships have been only a small part of my life. They are not in this horrible world with me for 34 years.

One problem, says Kelly, is that the more famous she became, the harder it was to come out. Still, for Kelly, sexuality wasn’t even on her radar when she dated boys as a teen in Hildenborough, Kent. She says: “This was an era when the stigma of homosexuality was really bad because of the AIDS epidemic. I had no role model in anything like this. And at the time, school sex education had nothing to do with being gay.”

But things changed when she joined the army in 1988, a month before her 18th birthday. She signed up for the Women’s Royal Army Corps

A fellow soldier kissed him in the bathroom block and, Kelly says: “I realized then that I must be gay, because it felt good. It felt more natural, I felt comfortable. Kelly wrote to her stepfather – whom she has always thought of as her father when she was a child after her real father moved out – to explain what had happened.

She adds: “I said I met a girl and I don’t know what to do. I was confused and a little scared of what it meant and was too nervous to tell him. But he accepted it immediately.”

During his 10 years in the military, Kelly had secret relationships with other female soldiers – risking a court martial if they were caught.

“Everybody knew who was gay, but you’d never talk about it,” she says. “It was the pub that had a back dance floor and a pool table and we all knew gays used to go to this place. You can be yourself, then return to your barracks. ,

Dame Kelly Holmes Opens The Sunday Mirror.
Dame Kelly Holmes opens the Sunday Mirror.
(Image: Sunday Mirror)

When she was 23, the Royal Military Police searched Kelly’s quarters for what they believed was the rooting of undercover homosexuals.

She panicked, recalling: “They took everything out of your closet, took out the bed and the drawers, read the letters—everything—were trying to hold us, so that we could be arrested, court martialed and could potentially go to jail.

“It’s humiliating, it’s humiliating – it feels humiliating when you’re serving your country and you’re doing a good job. You feel violated, treated like you’re some big villain.

“Those moments stuck with me because I didn’t want to lose my job, I loved it. But I thought the law was wrong.

“Who do you feel connected with, how can you influence it? fire Get a weapon, be on the front lines, take a physical training instructor class?”

When she personally came to him in 1997, the rest of her family was supporting her.

This coincided with leaving the military to pursue international athletics full-time. Kelly says: “I was thinking ‘oh s***,’ I was thinking about telling them.

“But they said they knew anyway. Nobody ever had a problem. They don’t know me differently.”

Kelly, who still lives in Kent, dated a woman between the ages of 27 and 32, but broke up in 2002 so that he could focus on the Athens Olympics. Sport had long helped her deal with the stress of hiding her sexuality.

But by 2003, at age 33, she was plagued by injuries and her mental health declined. “When I got injured or sick I cried all the time because all I had to do was run back, because if I didn’t come back my mind would go crazy,” she says.

“I think, ‘Nobody in the game talks about it, how can I suddenly say I’m gay? I can’t because I’m going to admit I broke the law in the military’.

Feeling desperate, he cut himself with scissors before the final of the 2003 World Championships in France. She recalls: “I was in the bathroom of a holding camp and really wanted to scream so loudly, I turned on the tap to dampen my tears. I didn’t want to stay here anymore.

“I cut myself on the arm and leg because I felt I had no control over myself. It was a release. Yet at the same time I had the thought to be successful, if I win gold then all is well Will be done. “

Kelly won silver the next day – and still didn’t ask for help. She feared being fired from Team GB if she asked about taking antidepressants.

She says: “I couldn’t go to the counselor because if I told them I was gay they could tell someone. It was alone. I felt stuck in this world where I can’t talk to anyone. As a mental health advocate I say you have to talk – yet I wasn’t doing it myself.”

Kelly was made a Dame in 2005. In 2018 she became an honorary colonel of the Royal Armored Corps Training Regiment – which she saw as “another obstacle” so to speak.

After a covid and mental breakdown in 2020, Kelly contacted a military LGBTQ+ leader to ask if she could still face sanctions for her military ties. The lawyer assured her that she would not.

“I felt like I could breathe again,” Kelly sighed. “One little call could have saved 28 years of heartache.” This helped him take steps to open up to the public. In January this year, he began making a documentary about his experiences, Being Me.

This included talking to LGBTQ+ soldiers. And Kelly is “angry” at the way the military has changed. “I was listening with my mouth open,” she says. “Instead of being gay, you will now be drawn to being homophobic.

“I interacted with young people in the military who never knew about the ban.”

Kelly says he’s excited to speak on his own terms – unlike actress Rebel Wilson, 42, who revealed that he fell in love with a woman after an Australian newspaper allegedly planned to “out” him was.

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