91-year-old marks Valentine’s Day by coming out live on the BBC

A 91-year-old has come out live on the BBC.

Barbara Hosking celebrated Valentine’s Day by telling BBC Radio 5 Live host Emma Barnett – and the entire nation – that she was a proud lesbian.

The former aide to Prime Ministers Harold Wilson and Edward Heath even said she was “a little bit in danger of being a gay icon.”


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Hosking also revealed that she had been with her partner Margaret for two decades, but had never told her family or others close to her.

The retired civil servant explained that she writing a memoir, and decided that her sexuality was too fundamental a part of her to leave out.


Hosking said: “I could hardly write a book about my life without talking about the fact that I have been gay.

“I think I say in the book that I first fell in love when I was six years old.”

The former civil servant also spent three years running a mining company in east Africa and became executive chairperson of Westcountry Television.


But throughout her extraordinary life, she never came out, “not publically, and not even with a lot of the people who know me”.

Hosking explained: “I lead a conventional life, and actually that’s just one part of it.

“And in a way, it’s not that important.”

When asked if she had ever told her family, she said: “No, my family never knew. I never told my parents.”

Marchers at Pride in London 2017

(Photo by taruna_seth/Instagram)

This was a conscious decision, she said.

“They would have not understood. And they would have been shocked,” Hosking told listeners.

“My mother loved me very much indeed. So did my father. But he was very old-fashioned, very conventional.

“My mother would have not been so conventional, but she would have probably thought it was a difficult choice for me to make, an unhappy choice.”

People take part in the annual Pride in London Parade on June 27, 2015 (Rob Stothard/Getty Images)


She said it was a shame that her mother saw homosexuality in this way, considering that it had not impacted on her life in a negative way.

“I have been very happy. I’ve had a very full life,” said Hosking.

And the 91-year-old confirmed she was in a relationship, saying: “I have a civil partnership… with my partner Margaret, who is a good 20 years younger than I am.”

They have been together for 20 years, she added, continuing to speak about her in sweet tones.

Sadiq Khan at Pride in London in 2016


“She makes sure that I am sensible, and do sensible things. I mean, i’m still inclined to be a bit hasty in some of the things I do,” she said.

Barnett told her that there was no going back in the closet now, and she agreed, but said with a laugh: “Well, you know my phrase, don’t you?

“‘I’ve come out, but if I don’t like it, I’m going back in.'”

Hosking had no plans to return to the closet yet, though.

“I love it, and it is odd that at my age, I really do enjoy the fact that I can be totally free with people.”

Watch Barbara’s heartwarming interview here: