Dame Kelly Holmes has come out as gay at the age of 52.
In the late 90s and early 2000s, she wowed sports spectators during her successful career as an accomplished athlete.
During that time, she earned numerous accolades for her performances in the 1,500 m event.
But in 2004, Dame Kelly skyrocketed to fame when she took home two gold medals for her 800 m and 1,500 m races during the Athens Olympic Games.
Since stepping away from the sports world, the successful philanthropist and author is now ready to step into her truth as a gay woman.
In an emotional interview with the Sunday Mirror, the beloved Olympic athlete revealed that she lived with her secret for decades.
“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,” she told the publication.
“Sometimes, I cry with relief. The moment this comes out, I’m essentially getting rid of that fear.”
Dame Kelly also revealed that her time in the British Army sparked her gay awakening after a fellow female soldier kissed her.
“I realised I must be gay then, because it felt good. It felt more natural. I felt comfortable,” she revealed.
After processing the kiss, Dame Kelly said that she confided in her step-father about the tender moment.
“I was confused and a bit scared of what it meant and nervous to tell him. But he accepted it straight away.”
Elsewhere in the interview, she revealed that LGBTQ+ soldiers gravitated to one another at the time but never talked about their sexuality.
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“Everyone knew who was gay, but you’d never talk about it,” she explained.
“There was this pub that had a back dance floor, and a pool table and everyone we knew was gay used to go to this place. You could be yourself, then come back to your barracks.”
Before 2000, the British army had strict prohibitions against LGBTQ+ people openly serving in the military.
Even though Dame Kelly’s family and friends knew of her sexuality, hiding it from the public ended up taking a toll on her mental health.
In 2020, after dealing with COVID-19 and a mental breakdown, she reached out to an LGBTQ+ military leader to see if she would face sanctions for previous Army relationships.
After being assured that she wouldn’t receive penalties, Dame Kelly began her journey to publicly come out.
“I felt like I could breathe again. One little call could have saved 28 years of heartache,” she said.
Dame Kelly’s interview comes a week before the release of her new documentary, Kelly Holmes: Being Me.
In the project, which is set to premiere on 26 June via ITV, she’ll be opening up about her life in the army and is also set to speak with active LGBTQ+ soldiers.