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Watch: Dame Kelly Holmes breaks down on This Morning after coming out as gay
Dame Kelly Holmes says she finally feels free after coming out as gay at the age of 52.
The athletics superstar revealed the truth about her sexuality this weekend after years of keeping her true self a secret from the world.
Former soldier Holmes had known she was gay since the age of 17 when she shared a kiss with a fellow female soldier.
But at the time laws meant that LGBTQ+ servicemen and women faced losing medals, being court-martialled or even jailed, so terrified Holmes was forced to conduct relationships in secret during her 10-year Army career.
And that instilled in her a fear of living openly.
Read more: Coming out as LGBTQ+: How to support someone
Speaking about choosing to go public, she told the Sunday Mirror: “There have been lots of dark times where I wished I could scream that I am gay – but I couldn’t. 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 also thanked well-wishers for their overwhelming support over her news.
"The response has been truly overwhelming. I never ever visualised this positivity and support.
“There’s been people from all walks of life, people who have followed me for years and new people who want to hear what I’ve got to say.
People have come out in their droves. I feel overwhelmed – it hasn’t sunk in.”
The Olympic champ decided to come out after contracting COVID-19 in October 2020 prompted a breakdown that made her realise: “I’m not living my life.”
She is delighted to see more LGBTQ+ visibility within sport, with diver Tom Daley, rugby player Gareth Thomas and boxer Nicola Adams being open about their sexuality.
Last month, Blackpool forward Jake Daniels became the UK’s first active male professional footballer to come out publicly as gay.
Holmes explores the issues that have haunted her in her new documentary Kelly Holmes: Being Me.