Olympic champ Kelly Holmes is living proof you’re never too old to come out

A close-up photo of athlete Dame Kelly Holmes wearing a pink dress as she attends the European Diversity Awards

Dame Kelly Holmes has joked that she’s “living her youth” at 52 after coming out as a gay woman in June 2022.

Speaking on a January 2023 episode of Loose Women, the athlete joked that quit drinking for a month after six months of “literally living my youth”. 

The Olympic legend has previously explained that coming out has made her “happy for the first time in my life”, and said it’s “changed everything about me”.

Kelly Holmes explained when she came out last year she knew she was gay when she was a soldier in the Women’s Royal Army Corps in the 1980s, but kept it secret due to laws at the time banning LGBTQ+ soldiers, a rule that was kept in place until 2000.

Several LGBTQ+ veterans who served under the military ban have shared they were discharged from the forces, stripped of their medals or convicted under the cruel laws

Dame Kelly Holmes wears a white red and blue Olympic outfit as she holds up two Olympic gold medals and clutches a Union Jack flag in her hand
Dame Kelly Holmes won a double gold medal at the 2004 Olympic games in Athens. (Getty/Graeme Robertson)

While talking on the Loose Women panel about aging, she explained that coming out later in life had left her with the desire to “not miss out”, and to live her youth.

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“You never know, we don’t know what’s around the corner, and the assumption is that we’re going to grow old, which obviously isn’t always the case… I don’t want to miss out on what’s coming next,” she said on the ITV show.

When Denise Welch added that a fear of aging can sometimes get in the way of actually living life to the fullest, the former Olympic athlete quipped that she had certainly been living it large since coming out.

“I’m on Dry January because, for the past six months since coming out, I’ve literally been living my youth,” Holmes said.

Her statements echo the thoughts of many LGBTQ+ people who have stated the fact that they were not able to be their true selves when they were younger has caused them to “live their youth” later in life. 

Trans people shared their experiences in a thread on Twitter, with many expressing a loss at having missed out on a youth lived in their real gender. 

Many of the Twitter users replying had come out as trans or transitioned later in life – in their 40s, 50s, or 60s.

“I transitioned at 41 and I don’t really feel a sense of a lost *childhood* so much as a lost young adulthood! I’d do anything to go back and live as a young woman in her twenties!” said one Twitter user.

Another said: “I started to transition in my last 50s and dearly wish I could have lived as the real me so much earlier. But I console myself that at least I’ve done it and not lived my complete life as a total lie.”