Amidst the solitude imposed by the COVID-19 pandemic, Kenneth Felts found the courage to step into the light after concealing his true self for 90 years. This Arvada father and grandfather used his time in isolation to pen his memoir, a testament to a lifetime marked by the weight of a hidden truth. In a heartfelt revelation, he shared with the world, for the first time, that he is gay.
The profound moment of disclosure started with a conversation with his daughter, a sharing of a secret kept for nearly a century. However, it didn’t end there. Kenneth decided to make his truth public, unleashing a powerful wave of acceptance and love. His Facebook post, where he bared his soul, resonated globally, attracting attention from news agencies, featuring interviews on the BBC, Australian television, and various U.S. programs.
“Having come out when I did has been the highlight of the rest of my life, I guess. I’ve never enjoyed so much love from unknown people all over the world,” expressed Felts, overwhelmed by the outpouring of support he received from every corner of the globe.
A Korean War veteran who was married in the past, Felts, now 90, was initially surprised by the widespread interest in his story. Humble and down-to-earth, he remarked, “I’m just an old guy who’s 90 who decided to get off the closet floor and walk out the door.”
As October unfolded, celebrated as LGBTQ History Month with National Coming Out Day within its embrace, Kenneth Felts became a symbol of resilience and authenticity. Data from the U.S. Census reveals a growing number of LGBTQ adults over 50, estimated at around 3 million presently and anticipated to reach 7 million by 2030. Yet, the challenges faced by elder LGBTQ individuals persist – higher likelihood of living alone, less likely to have children, and a history marred by discrimination and prejudice.
However, coming out at 90, though seemingly unusual, is not as rare as one might think. Reynaldo Mireles, director of elder services at The Center on Colfax, recognizes that the coming-out journey is personal and can happen at any stage of life. “I know that there are people who want to have relationships and may feel like they’re too old, but I believe you can find love at any moment in your life.”
Levi Teachey, a board member at PFLAG Denver, echoes this sentiment, emphasizing that the courage displayed by individuals like Kenneth Felts is admirable. He notes the increasing awareness and destigmatization of coming out, attributing it to the available resources and support networks.
Kenneth Felts, who realized his sexual orientation at the age of 12, had intended to carry his secret to the grave. However, a battle with cancer last year and the solitude imposed by the pandemic convinced him that it was time to embrace his authentic self.
“It’s the freedom of doing whatever I want to do without regard to what other people might think about me. So it’s really been a burden lifted off my shoulders. I’m free, free, free!” exclaims Felts, embodying the liberation that comes with embracing one’s true identity.
Last modified: January 29, 2024