Dame Kelly Holmes has insisted she will never live “behind that curtain” again as she addressed crowds at Pride in London just a few weeks after publicly coming out.

Describing herself as “a gay woman” to people gathered in Trafalgar Square on Saturday evening, she said she had not been able to say those words for 34 years as she lived with the “fear of judgment and retribution”.

The athlete and honorary colonel with the Royal Armoured Corps Training Regiment said laws in the military and her position in the public eye “didn’t allow” her to be open about her sexuality.

People gathered in Trafalgar Square for Pride in London celebrations (James Manning/PA)People gathered in Trafalgar Square for Pride in London celebrations (James Manning/PA)

Giving a speech at the 50th anniversary event, as she introduced singer Emeli Sande – who also came out publicly as gay in recent months – Dame Kelly said everyone deserves to “have our voices heard”.

She said: “For those that don’t know me, I am an honorary colonel with the Royal Armoured Corps Training Regiment, I am a Dame Commander of The British Empire, I am the first British woman in the history of the Olympic Games to win two gold medals at the same games, I am mixed race and I am also a gay woman.

“For 34 years I have never been able to say those words until two weeks ago due to the fear of judgment and retribution that was instilled in me since the age of 18 because the laws in the military and being in the public eye didn’t allow me to do it.”

She added: “All I can definitely say now is I’m 52, I’m never going to live behind that curtain again.”

She thanked people for the support she received after coming out, saying there had been “deep and meaningful emails and messages that have come from the community and people that have struggled, people are feeling free now”.

The crowd joined her in chanting “freedom is my voice”.

She told those gathered: “I could never speak before but I have realised no matter if you lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, intersex, asexual, black, white, short, tall, big, small, however you identify and even being straight, we have the right to stand side by side with each other, we all deserve to have our voices heard.

“As I said at the Pride Awards last week, freedom is my voice. I would like you all to say with me ‘freedom is my voice’.”