Since coming out as gay in her documentary Kelly Holmes: Being Me eight months ago, Dame Kelly Holmes is learning how to be more herself.
Only a handful of friends and close family were ever aware of her sexuality – it was a secret the double Olympic champion, motivational speaker, Loose Women panellist and former soldier had kept hidden from the public, colleagues and acquaintances for more than 30 years.
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There is definitely a "before" and "after" Kelly, she says. "The before Kelly was very guarded, anxious and strait-laced. I was on edge all the time and wouldn’t relax. But now I’m more expressive.
"It’s still hard," she adds. "I love being on Loose Women, but to be free in conversation – not be such a prude, or worry about something I’ve said – that’s a transition for me. I’m having to re-learn how to be."
Dame Kelly Holmes is learning more about herself
Coming out last June has, "given me the freedom not to worry about what people think of me, to articulate who I am in a transparent manner and prove to people I'm still the same person who they might have celebrated as an athlete, or been inspired by because I'm ex-military".
She’s also learning to become part of the LGBTQ+ community. "I didn't understand why all the letters were always extending, why we need such individuality, but I kind of get it now," she says.
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"It's about feeling valid and having a place where you are seen and heard; where people accept you for who you are and you can identify with people who feel like you."
And finally, and perhaps most significantly, she feels confident enough to reveal she's in a relationship. In fact, in February, she posted pictures of herself and her unnamed partner on Instagram – an important first for her.
"I’ve never really talked about anyone and that’s as far as I’m going at the moment!" she says, firmly. She is, she says, "in a good place". "I'm putting myself forward more," she adds, smiling. "And happy to be me."
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