BBC Sport presenter Clare Balding says her MP great grandfather was gay
BBC TV presenter Clare Balding has made a surprising discovery about her great grandfather.
The openly lesbian sports host, 46, has often spoken out about her own sexuality and LGBT rights, but had no idea of her family history.
In series 14 of Who Do You Think You Are? Balding discovers letters from her late great grandfather, Sir Malcolm Bullock.
Sir Malcolm was an MP in an era when homosexuality was both illegal and staunchly frowned upon by British society.
After his wife died in a tragic accident, Sir Malcolm began a relationship with artist Rex Whistler through the 1930s.
The pair spent time on opera visits, dinners and even a romantic trip to Paris together.
In the programme, Balding discovers that the two men would exchange love letters – that could have landed them in prison at the time – which were burned by Sir Malcolm’s daughter.
He was also a regular guest at parties where men could “be themselves”.
Balding, who married BBC newsreader Alice Arnold in 2015, says: “There’s no doubt in my mind that he was gay or bisexual.”
The presenter, who married her partner Alice Arnold earlier this year, said the negativity she has received in the past about discussing her sexuality has placed in a frustrating position.
She told PA: “I’m very aware that it’s important for people to see a couple in the mainstream.
“But it can get a bit exhausting. I don’t walk down the street saying, ‘Hi! I’m gay!’
“At the same time, I want to be one of the people who helps.
“What am I meant to do? I don’t know what the bloody answer is.”
She also drew comparisons between the questions she is asked and those pitched to other presenters.
She added: “I tell you what… I’m not going to talk in this interview about being gay.
“I suspect Gabby Logan isn’t asked about being married or being a mother.”
Former Prime Minister David Cameron also named Clare Balding as one of his ‘gay heroes’.