Clare Balding was terrified her career would nosedive if she came out

Patrick Kelleher
·2-min read

Clare Balding was terrified that coming out as a lesbian would put an end to her broadcasting career.

The BBC presenter came out as a lesbian in 2003 after almost a decade of hiding her sexuality while working at the UK’s state broadcaster.

“I was brought up to think that the only ‘acceptable’ relationship meant being married to a man, with a big wedding in a church,” Balding said, according to The Sun.

“I was worried that if people discovered I was in a relationship with a woman I would get insulted or even that I might be discriminated against when it came to choosing presenters for big events and programmes on TV.”

Balding added: “A lot has changed in the world since then, thankfully.”

Writing in her new book Fall Off, Get Back On, Keep Going, Balding wrote: “The fear of how you imagine people will react to you speaking out is often much worse than the reality. Most people were really kind and supportive.”

BBC presenter Clare Balding married her partner in 2015

Balding joined the BBC in 1994 as a trainee journalist. She got her first presenting job at the broadcaster a year later.

In the years since, she has become one of the BBC’s most recognisable faces, covering the Olympic Games on six occasions.

Balding entered into a civil partnership with Alice Arnold in 2006, three years after she publicly came out, and the pair married in 2015.

Speaking to the Press Association that same year, Balding said she was “exhausted” at constantly being asked about her sexuality.

“I’m very aware that it’s important for people to see a couple in the mainstream. But it can get a bit exhausting. I don’t walk down the street saying, ‘Hi! I’m gay!'” she said.

“At the same time, I want to be one of the people who helps. What am I meant to do? I don’t know what the bloody answer is.”

She added: “I tell you what… I’m not going to talk in this interview about being gay. I suspect Gabby Logan isn’t asked about being married or being a mother.”