Kelly Holmes says she was scared of going to jail over being gay

Dame Kelly Holmes has spoken about the mental health effects of having to hide her sexuality. (ITV)
Kelly Holmes has discussed being gay in the military. (ITV)

Dame Kelly Holmes has said that she was scared about coming out as gay because she feared she would be sent to prison.

Before becoming a professional athlete, Holmes enlisted in the British Army where it was illegal to be gay before 2000.

Appearing on Loose Women, Holmes talked about how that fear impacted her life: "I was scared that if I ever came out and admitted being gay while I served, that I could still go to jail.

Read more: Dame Kelly Holmes self-harmed after Army career left her terrified of coming out

"That was how my head had created this wall and barrier."

Watch: 'I've never been happy but now I can' - Dame Kelly Holmes breaks down after coming out

The Olympic gold medallist added: "I was scared witless. When I came out in June this year publicly, I had to resolve these issues that had been in my life."

Holmes continued into answering what would have happened if the military had found out she was gay: "I would not have been a double Olympic champion because it would have ruined my life. I wouldn’t have become a member of the British Empire, an award from the British Army.

"I wouldn’t have been many of these things. There’s so many people who could have done so much more with their lives, but lives have been ruined."

LONDON, ENGLAND - JULY 02: Dame Kelly Holmes on stage during Pride in London 2022: The 50th Anniversary at Trafalgar Square on July 02, 2022 in London, England. (Photo by Tristan Fewings/Getty Images for Pride In London)
Kelly Holmes at Pride in 2022. (Getty Images for Pride In London)

Holmes also discussed the Army's since reneged ban on gay people serving in the military: "That’s so many people – your grandparents, your parents, your aunties, uncles, sisters, brothers… they could have suffered this. You might still not know, because they still might not be out. It could be your colleagues, your friends... People that have served have lived with this in their DNA for so long. I want people to now come out, because I’m finally free of that. It took a lot of years."

Holmes has been calling for past gay members of the military to come forward to talk about the ban and how it affected them.

An independent review is set to take place to look into the ban which was in effect from 1967 to 2000.

Around 500 former members of the military have submitted their testimony for the review.

During Loose Women, Holmes revealed that the independent panel had found stories of blackmail, abuse, homelessness and unemployment.