THE BLOG
02/12/2013 10:30 GMT | Updated 01/02/2014 05:59 GMT

The Dilemma Between Clare Balding and Her Granny

All relationships - even if they are between grandchildren and their beloved, doting grandparents - can be strained from time to time.

Now Clare Balding, the popular and successful sports presenter has spoken publicly and touchingly of the rift in her family - particularly with her grandmother - when it was made public that she was in a relationship with another woman.

All relationships go through ups and downs and sometimes when one is strong enough to have an open discussion it can be rewarding and helpful.

During last Sunday's Desert Island Discs programme on BBC Radio Four, Clare Balding laid bare the facts of how troubled her relationship was with her grandmother after she learnt - via the newspaper - that Clare was in a relationship with Alice Arnold, a former BBC newsreader. The two are in a civil partnership.

In fact, her grandmother didn't mince her words - she said it was "disgusting" that Clare was gay.

The broadcaster, who fronted much of the BBC's 2012 Olympic Games coverage, disclosed that her parents had known she was gay but obviously she hadn't shared that part of her life with her grandmother. It has been known for about 10 years, publicly, that Clare is gay.

Telling family members about the most innermost thoughts of one's private life can often be difficult, if not daunting. And for Clare, she must have been quite troubled as to how she would "break the news" to her elderly grandmother.

In fact, she must have been quite annoyed with the newspaper too - but perhaps if one is such a popular and public figure, then it goes with the territory that one's personal and private life is at some point, made public.

Nevertheless, it doesn't make it easy, and Clare was clearly in a dilemma.

When a national newspaper made it public that she was gay, she says, she then had to discuss it with all family members. "It was kind of weird", she said.

"I said 'Grandma, I need to talk to you' and she said 'Yes I should think you do'," she told presenter of the radio programme, Kirsty Young.

She then asked her grandmother: "Have you seen the paper?"

Her reply? "Yes and I think it's disgusting."

Clare then asked: "What do you mean? The invasion of my privacy or my lifestyle choice?"

Grandmother: "Both."

Clare poured out her heart and explained how difficult it was, since she and her grandmother didn't talk to each other for about six months.

On another matter, she was asked whether she could work at the 2014 games in Sochi with a "clear conscience".

"Absolutely," Balding replied. "Because I think it's hugely important that I do go".

Gay rights campaigner Peter Tatchell said recently the best thing she could do to "show solidarity with gay Russians" was to present the BBC's coverage "as an openly lesbian woman".

The Russian administration has been criticised over a new law banning "homosexual propaganda" towards under-18s.