Dame Kelly Holmes was "always on edge" before she came out as gay.
The 52-year-old double Olympic champion disclosed her sexuality for the first time as part of her 'Kelly Holmes: Being Me' documentary in 2022 and went on to become a regular panellist on ITV1 chat show 'Loose Women' but admitted she still finds it "hard" after keeping part of her life secret for so long.
She told HELLO! Magazine: "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. 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 - who joined the British Army at the age of 18 and served for almost a decade - went on to add that while she didn't understand why the initialism of LGBTQIA+ was being extended to encompass those who identify as part of the queer community at first, she now believes it is so everyone can feel "valid" in their own skin.
She added: "Coming out 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.
"I didn't understand why all the letters were always extending, why we need such individuality, but I kind of get it now. 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.
Earlier this year, Dame Kelly posted pictures of herself and her unnamed partner on Instagram and added that her intention is to keep shtum about the details of her private life as she "puts herself forward" more.
She added: "I’ve never really talked about anyone and that’s as far as I’m going at the moment! I'm putting myself forward more and happy to be me!"