In breaking her 34-year public quiet, an Olympic gold medalist exposes her concerns about the court-martial in the army and the toll it has taken on her mental health.
Is Dame Kelly Holmes a Gay?
Gay rights activists applauded Dame Kelly Holmes‘ decision to come out at the age of 52, a move that raised questions about how many older individuals who grew up in more homophobic periods are still scared, to be honest about their sexuality.
The double Olympic gold medalist lifted a painful 34-year public silence on her sexuality on Sunday, stating that she felt like she was going to “explode with excitement” by finally coming out after years of feeling depressed, anxious, and even suicidal while keeping her sexuality a secret from all but her closest family members.
Holmes, who realized she was a lesbian in 1988 after she kissed a fellow female soldier, told the Sunday Mirror, “It was illegal to be gay in the military. The danger, if caught, was to be arrested, court-martialed, expelled, and occasionally imprisoned.
I had wanted to join the military since I was 14 years old and was desperate to remain in, so I could not tell them. But it was extremely difficult because my life was overtaken by fear.”
Olympic Gold Winner Dame Kelly Holmes Comes Out as Homosexual
She stated how, after winning gold medals in the 800m and 1,500m at the 2004 Olympics in Athens, she was haunted by the fear of being exposed.
“The reason I didn’t want it to come out was that I didn’t really know any homosexual athletes,” she explained. “The ban in the military had only been abolished four years prior, and I had never asked anyone if there were any consequences if I spoke out. I remained utterly terrified.
She told the Sunday Mirror, “I needed to do this for me at this time.” “I made the decision. I am hesitant to express it. I’m on the verge of exploding with enthusiasm. Sometimes I shed tears of relief. As soon as this is published, I will be free of that worry.”
Office of National Statistics data released last month revealed that significantly fewer members of Holmes’ generation identified as homosexual than younger adults.
In 2020, only 2 percent of those aged 50 to 64 identified as homosexual, lesbian, or bisexual, compared to 4.5 percent of those aged 25 to 34.
In 1988, when Holmes first realized she was gay, Britain was seized by the Aids panic, which stigmatized the gay community.
The section 28 rule forbade the “promotion of homosexuality” in schools from 1988 to 2003 in England and Wales, and up until 2000 in Scotland. Until the year 2000, homosexuals in the military were subject to discharge, and some were court-martialed.
“Kelly Holmes is just the tip of the iceberg,” claimed gay rights activist Peter Tatchell, adding that “many other major British sports stars have been unable to come out.”
Last month, Dame Kelly Holmes was photographed in London. “They grew up in an era of frequently toxic homophobia, and even if Britain is more tolerant now, they have been permanently wounded by this experience,” he said.
Holmes stated, “There have been numerous instances when I wanted I could scream that I am gay, but I was unable to. Throughout my entire life, I was worried that if I acknowledged to being gay in the military, I would still be in trouble.”
Holmes told the Sunday Mirror that her barracks were searched by the Royal Military police when she was 23 years old, and she felt it was to identify homosexual soldiers.
In 2003, just prior to the World Athletics Championships in France, she cut herself with scissors. She claimed, “I was in a holding camp bathroom and wanted to scream so loudly that I turned on the faucet to muffle my sobs. I no longer wished to be here.”
“I truly hope that this serves as a wake-up call for anyone indulging in bigotry and exclusion today,” said Robbie de Santos, a spokesperson for the campaigning organization Stonewall, which added that it was “great that Dame Kelly Holmes feels able to share her truth with the world.”
De Santos stated, “This is not simply a cultural conflict.” This relates to the long-term effects on people.
“We anticipate that many more people will live in the shadow of homophobia, biphobia, and transphobia for decades to come; many people will fear being judged by friends and family,” he said.
“It might be difficult if you feel like you’ve been living a lie with those closest to you, and people fear conveying the message that they didn’t trust those individuals.”