Dame Kelly Holmes says the support she’s received after coming out has been “overwhelming”

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Lauren Geall
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Dame Kelly Holmes

In an interview with the Sunday Mirror released yesterday (19 June), Dame Kelly Holmes came out as gay after living “in fear” for 34 years – and expressed her relief about feeling able to share her sexuality with the world.

Dame Kelly Holmes has thanked her fans for their “overwhelming” support after coming out as gay in an interview with the Sunday Mirror.

Taking to Instagram to reflect on the response she has received after sharing her story, Holmes said today marked “the start of a new chapter in [her] long life book”.

“The morning after the night before,” she wrote alongside an image of her standing in front of a mural of rainbow butterfly wings. “The support has been overwhelming – I actually don’t think I can take it all in and process it right now!” 

The two-time Olympic gold medal winner also paid tribute to her mum who passed away in 2017 – and reflected on how she would have felt about Holmes’ decision to speak out.

“My ‘Mother Dear’ would be so proud of my announcement in the Sunday Mirror,” she added. “She always played me the song You’re A Superstar by Love Inc. and wanted me to be truly me.”

In her emotional interview, which was published yesterday (19 June), Holmes opened up about “fear” and “excitement” she felt about sharing her story – but said her decision to speak was about “getting rid” of her fear.

“I needed to do this now, for me,” she explained. “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.” 

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Holmes also spoke about how she struggled with her mental health as a result of keeping her sexuality hidden and revealed her fear that she would “still be in trouble” if she admitted to being gay during her time in the army when the forces still had a ban on LGBTQ+ soldiers.

In particular, Holmes recalled one incident when the Royal Military Police searched her barracks in a check she believed was intended to root out “secret lesbians”.

“They pulled everything out of your cupboard, turned out the beds and drawers, read letters – everything – trying to catch us out, so we could be arrested, court-martialled and potentially go to jail,” she revealed, saying the ordeal left her “terrified”.  

However, after speaking with a military LGBTQ+ leader who confirmed that she could no longer face sanctions for her army relationships, the sports star says she felt like she “could breathe again” – and decided she wanted to come out publicly.

In a post uploaded to Instagram soon after her interview with the Sunday Mirror was released, Holmes echoed this sense of relief – and announced that she has filmed a documentary about helping people “live their authentic lives” which will be released via ITV on 26 June, coinciding with the end of Pride month.

“I can finally breathe,” she wrote alongside a shot of her interview on the front page of the Sunday Mirror. “Yes, I have been petrified of putting this out – you have no idea.” 

She continued: “This journey has been the hardest part of life. Living with any kind of fear is debilitating. You are here every day but not fully living every day.

“I have lived in fear for 34 years and I am exhausted and don’t want to anymore. I hope those that read my story will help me through this next scary phase but also be there for others.”

On social media, Holmes has received an influx of love and support since her interview came out, with celebrities including Fearne Cotton, Dina Asher-Smith and Emeli Sandé commenting on her post.  

Kelly Holmes: Being Me airs on ITV at 9pm on 26 June

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Lauren Geall

As Stylist’s digital writer, Lauren Geall writes on topics including mental health, wellbeing and women’s issues. She’s also a big fan of houseplants and likes to dabble in film and TV from time-to-time. You can find her on Twitter at @laurenjanegeall.