At the age of 90, Kenneth Felts came out to his family because he was tired of suppressing his sexuality.
Editor's Note: This article was originally published on June 23, 2020. It has since been updated.
Kenneth Felts was 90 years old when he decided to come out as gay to his family. During the lockdown in Colorado where he currently lives, he recognized he simply could not forget about a man he fell in love with 70 years ago. Therefore, despite all his greatest fears, he made the choice to tell his family about who he is, The Denver Post reports. He has since updated his Facebook profile to feature a profile picture of him wearing a bright rainbow hoodie. His daughter could not be prouder of him for owning his sexuality and coming forward.
"He’s just so brave and he doesn’t even realize that he is," daughter Rebecca Myes affirmed. "It's so extraordinary." Originally, Kenneth never really planned to come out of the closet. He thought he could carry his secret all the way to grave. However, while writing his autobiography during the pandemic, he was hit by a flood of memories. Through his writing, he was able to reflect on his story with his one true love, a man named Phillip. The pair fell in love with each other in 1950s California, but Kenneth decided to live his life as a straight man because "it was just easier that way."
Nonetheless, that was then. He realized recently that he wanted his family to know the truth about his sexuality. "I’ve been in the closet all my life — deep in the closet, behind rows and rows of clothing. I’m way back there," Kenneth shared. "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." He let everyone in his family know he was gay via Facebook and email. He explained that he had always felt like he had "two personalities living inside him: Ken, a straight man, and Larry, a gay man." After decades of suppressing Larry, it was time to let him out last.
The moment is particularly special for him and his daughter because Rebecca, too, came out as lesbian after she had graduated from college. At the time, the father quickly accepted and supported his daughter and new daughter-in-law Tracie Mayes (even though he was working out his own internalized issues). Kenneth first realized he was gay when he was 12 years old. He refused to come out because of how the LGBTQ+ community was treated when he was growing up. He said, "Coming out in the ’50s, ’60s, and ’70s was horrendous. That was part of the reason I didn’t ever consider coming out (before). There was no gay community, there really weren’t gay organizations 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."
Now, he's completely giving in to "Larry." In addition to his rainbow hoodie, the 90-year-old has bought a rainbow flag to hang behind him on the wall for his virtual LGBTQ+ senior coffee group meetings organized by the Center on Colfax. He’s also fundraising for and taking part in events to support the community. Most recently, he participated in a virtual 5K. Tracie stated, "He just really seemed to take it and run with it. He seems to be making up for lost time and really is owning it, which is fantastic."