‘Brave’ 90 year-old man comes out as gay
Kenneth Felts had kept his sexuality hidden all his life. But when memories of his first love flooded back as he decided to write his memoirs, he had an emotional conversation with his lesbian daughter Rebecca Mayes.
Kenneth told his daughter about his love affair with a man called Phillip – and explained that the relationship could never thrive because of anti-LGBT+ attitudes at the time.
“I’ve been in the closet all my life – deep in the closet, behind rows and rows of clothing,” Felts told the Denver Post.
“I’m way back there. Opening that door at the front, I had great trepidation as to what people would say. I was very concerned because I needed people and I couldn’t stand the thought of losing them just because I decided to finally be who I really was.”
Despite his fears, Felts decided it was time to come out to everyone in his life. He sent emails to close friends and let others know in a Facebook post in which he confessed that he had always felt like he had two personalities: a straight man called Ken and a gay man called Larry.
More than 50 years after leaving his first love behind due to homophobic attitudes, Felts was met with a wave of love and support.
“Coming out in the 50s, 60s and 70s was horrendous,” he said.
“That was part of the reason I didn’t ever consider coming out [before]. There was no gay community, there really weren’t gay organisations or anything.
“People who came out came out on their own, without support. And I guess I didn’t have the courage to face society at that time, so I just went ahead and buried it.”
The 90-year-old has decided to embrace his newfound openness in all its glory. Most of the photos on his Facebook page show him wearing a rainbow hoodie.
“He’s just so brave and he doesn’t even realise that he is, but it’s extraordinary,” his daughter said.
Felts has even taken to raising vital funds for LGBT+ charities since coming out. On June 20, he took part in a Denver Pride Virtual 5km walk and raised $450 for the Center on Colfax, an LGBT+ organisation in Colorado.
He thinks people shouldn’t underestimate their family and friends when they’re thinking about coming out.
“You might be surprised at how they react if you were to decide to come out. Enjoy what you’ve got while you’ve got it, because you’ve only got it once.”