Double Olympic champion Dame Kelly Holmes announces she is gay

The 52-year-old Olympic champion revealed that she came out to her family and friends in 1997.

Dame Kelly Holmes has come out as gay during pride month (Lia Toby/PA Images)
Dame Kelly Holmes has come out as gay during pride month (Lia Toby/PA Images)

Dame Kelly Holmes has announced that she is gay, saying she “needed to do this now”.

Speaking during Pride month, the two-time gold medal winning Olympic champion 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.”

The double Olympic champion said she feared repercussions from the army (Andrew Matthews/PA Images)

Dame Kelly, 52, also revealed she 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 marshalled.

Until 2000, it was illegal for gay, lesbian and bisexual people to serve in the British Army, Royal 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.

Dame Holmes said she came out on her own terms (Ian West/PA Images)

She said: “I felt like I could breathe again, one little call could have saved 28 years of heartache.”

Dame Kelly also 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.

Social media has been flooded with support for the Olympic champion.

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

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Please enter a valid email
Please enter a valid email
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Please enter your first name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
Please enter your last name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
You must be over 18 years old to register
You must be over 18 years old to register
Opt-out-policy
You can opt-out at any time by signing in to your account to manage your preferences. Each email has a link to unsubscribe.

By clicking ‘Create my account’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in