Dame Kelly Holmes reveals she is gay as brave Olympics heroine, 52, swears to be herself after mental trauma

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OLYMPICS legend Dame Kelly Holmes has revealed she is gay – after living a ‘secret life’ for decades.

The 52-year-old sports hero, who is in a happy relationship, says she wanted to “scream” about her sexuality for years but felt unable to speak openly.

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Olympic hero Dame Kelly Holmes has revealed she is gay and in a relationship after struggling with her mental health for yearsCredit: Getty
National treasure suffered bouts of self-harm amid fears of being exposed

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National treasure suffered bouts of self-harm amid fears of being exposedCredit: AFP

She bravely chose to break her silence during Pride month after ‘dark times’ when she considered taking her own life.

Dame Kelly told the Sunday Mirror she first realized she was gay when she kissed another female soldier aged just 17.

But she suppressed her true feelings for years – and suffered bouts of self-harm.

Even her celebrations after winning gold in the 800 and 1,500 meters in Athens were ruined as she feared she would be knocked out.

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The national treasure told the newspaper: “I needed to do it now, for me. It was my decision. I’m nervous to say it.

“I feel like I’m going to explode with excitement. Sometimes I cry with relief.”

Dame Kelly feared she would “be in trouble again” if she admitted to being gay in the military, despite her family and close friends having known about her sexuality for years.

She joined the Women’s Royal Army Corps in 1988, a month before her 18th birthday. At the time, the forces had banned LGBT soldiers, which was not lifted until 2000.

After his first kiss with another woman, Kelly wrote to her stepfather to tell him what had happened.

“I was confused and a little scared by what that meant,” she said.

“But he accepted it straight away.”

She continued to have relationships with other female soldiers during her 10 years of service, risking court-martial, and came out to the rest of her family in 1997.

Between the ages of 27 and 32, she was in a relationship, but broke it off so she could focus on the Olympics. At 33, however, his mental health began to suffer.

In 2003, she self-harmed before the final of the World Championships in France, running a tap to drown out the sound of her tears.

“I felt like I had no control over myself,” she said.

“Yet at the same time, I had this drive to succeed, thinking, ‘If I win gold, I’ll be fine’.”

I feel like I’m going to explode with excitement. Sometimes I cry with relief

Despite her grief, she did not ask for support as she was terrified of being fired from Team GB.

In 2020, she suffered from Covid and depression – and contacted an LGBTQ+ military leader to ask if she could still face sanctions for her dealings with the military.

When the lawyer reassured her, Kelly said, “I felt like I could breathe again.

“A little phone call could have saved 28 years of heartache.”

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She is currently working on a documentary called Being Me about her experiences.

  • For more information on how to seek help if you are affected by the issues in this article, visit NHS.uk
Dame Kelly first knew she was gay when she kissed another female soldier aged 17

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Dame Kelly first knew she was gay when she kissed another female soldier aged 17Credit: Unknown, clear with photo office
She immediately wrote to her stepfather, who supported her and had relationships with women

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She immediately wrote to her stepfather, who supported her and had relationships with womenCredit: Getty Hulton
But she has now addressed her millions of UK fans to celebrate Pride Month

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But she has now addressed her millions of UK fans to celebrate Pride MonthCredit: BBC/Blast! Movies Ltd
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