Clare Balding

The fear that made Clare Balding hide her sexuality for a decade

Thankfully much of the world has caught up

Clare Balding is one of the UK’s most beloved presenters, but for years she was terrified of her private life becoming public.

Before she managed to become a household name, Clare – who stars on Celebrity Catchphrase tonight – secretly feared that her sexuality might end her career before it had begun.

While being gay was legal in the 90s, there was still a major stigma regarding people in the public eye coming out.

Her concerns led to Clare keeping the fact she was gay a secret for almost a decade.

clare balding
Clare Balding has been married to her wife since 2006 (Credit: Splashnews)

Why did Clare Balding take so long to come out as gay?

In her 2021 book Fall Off, Get Back On Keep Going, she says: “I was brought up to think that the only ‘acceptable’ relationship meant being married to a man, with a big wedding in a church.

“I was worried that if people discovered I was in a relationship with a woman I would get insulted or even that I might be discriminated against when it came to choosing presenters for big events and programmes on TV.

Read more: Best reactions as BBC Olympics host Clare Balding goes viral over hilarious ‘third leg’ gaffe

Clare’s career began on the BBC in 1994 when she got her first hosting gig, introducing the Royal Ascot highlights.

“A lot has changed in the world since then, thankfully,” said the presenter.

After almost 10 years of keeping her life hidden from the public, Clare decided enough was enough.

In 2003, she made the brave decision to come out publicly.

clare balding
Clare Balding is now one of the UK’s most beloved presenters (Credit: BBC)

Clare says her fears were unfounded

Thankfully, her fears were misplaced. She has gone on to present the likes of the Olympics, Channel 4’s Paralympics, Wimbledon and Sports Personality Of The Year.

“The fear of how people will react to you speaking out is often much worse than the reality,” she said. “Most people were really kind and supportive.”

Clare met her wife, fellow broadcaster Alice Arnold, in 1999 while working at the BBC.

They committed to each other in a civil partnership ceremony in 2006.

When the UK finally legalised same-sex marriage, the pair walked down the aisle again in 2015.

“They just backdate it to when you did your civil partnership. So officially now we have been married since 2006,” Clare revealed during an appearance on The Jonathan Ross Show.

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