Kelly Holmes on ‘petrifying’ LGBT military ban raid as she feared losing career

Loose Women: Dame Kelly on ‘receiving apology from PM’

Dame Kelly Holmes has admitted she felt ‘petrified’ while in the military as she feared losing career.

The former Olympian spoke about her experience on Loose Women following Rishi Sunak’s official apology earlier this week.

The Prime Minister touched on the historical ban in the military which disallowed and even punished LGBT people who served in the forces.

After playing the clip from Mr Sunak’s speech, panellist Nadia Sawalha asked Kelly what exactly he was apologising for before she delved into her own circumstances.

She replied: “I’ve got to take a deep breath because I get quite anxious and emotional, then I go blah blah blah.

“So, there was a ban in place between 1967 to 2000 for any serving personnel that was LGBT.”

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Kelly explained that as a lot of people are young when they sign up for the military, some don’t realise they are part of the LGBT community until further down the line.

She added: “There was a witch hunt at certain periods of time during those years where they were purposefully going into barracks and trying to find people that were considered, possibly, to be gay.”

The 53-year-old confessed that once happened to her as she explained her experience with a raid to the panellists.

Kelly continued: “An example of that is from my level right up, I was raided which means the Royal Military police would come into my private space, my bedroom.

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“Ransack it completely, be intimidating, interrogating, in my face, belittling. I was scared, I was 23. I was petrified, I didn’t want to lose my career.”

The Loose Women star revealed she had to hide messages from her sister and friends in her car in case they accused her of being gay.

She added: “I only realised I was gay when I joined, I wasn’t even seeing anyone at the time of that raid.

“What went from that, is for me personally, caused me mental health issues throughout my whole career because I was so petrified that it was institutionally driven into me about that shame, hence why I didn’t come out until last year”

Kelly went on to explain that there were other people in the military who were LGBT that were bullies, sexually assaulted, raped, put in jail, and had medals ripped off of them along with careers and pensions lost.

She told the panel the ban affected 20,000 service personnel, both men and women, who had years of suffering.

Nadia thanked Kelly for sharing her experience as the live audience erupted into a supportive round of applause.

Loose Women continues weekdays on ITV from 12:30pm.

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