90-Year-Old Colorado Man Finally Tells Family He’s Gay In Time For Pride Month
After keeping his true self secret for 90 years, a grandfather from Colorado came out as gay to his friends and family in time for Pride Month.
Father and grandfather Kenneth Felts started reflecting on his life during quarantine, and decided to begin work on an autobiography in order to tell his story.
Writing his book prompted old memories and emotions to come to the surface, and after one long day of writing he accidentally made reference to the secret that he’d held for the better part of a century.
Kenneth was chatting to his daughter, Rebecca Mayes, who he shares with his ex-wife, when he let slip something about how he wished he’d ‘never left Phillip’.
Rebecca previously had no idea who Phillip was, but ‘all of a sudden she knew’, Kenneth told Good Morning America.
Phillip was a man Kenneth had fallen in love with in the 1950s, but Kenneth ‘adopted a straight persona because [he] did not think [he] had another choice’.
For a long time, the truth was buried deep down in my soul… I would’ve had to contend with all the scorn from society, be labelled a pervert or deviant. But people are much more accepting today and I felt I had to find the courage.
Two decades ago, Rebecca told her father she was a lesbian, and while she was delighted to learn that Kenneth can now ‘finally be himself’, she said she also felt a ‘terrible sadness’ that her father had lost his relationship with the man he loved, and that he’d had to keep his true self a secret for so long.
Kenneth went on to come out to the rest of his friends and family, and in May he took to Facebook to share his news with the wider world.
Posting a picture of himself wearing a rainbow hoodie, the 90-year-old said: ‘I am free, I am gay and I am out.’
Kenneth’s friends and family have rallied around him in the wake of the revelation and strangers have celebrated his news on social media, with messages of support flooding in.
Speaking of the response, Kenneth said:
It’s been absolutely overwhelming. The positive response from people all over the country and world, they’re just wonderful and I feel responsible to respond to every one that comes in.
I’ve had several people say they were on the verge of making this decision, and my story has helped them. I just hope people understand they’ll be accepted and it’ll be much more positive than they might assume. Certainly, that was the case for me.
One woman offered to help Kenneth track down Phillip, but sadly it emerged that the grandfather’s former love passed away two years ago. Kenneth said he appreciated the help, adding: ‘The loving memory of him is now living on through all of us.’
The grandfather is now enjoying embracing the LGBTQ+ community and is working to raise money for related events.
Though many have commended Kenneth for his bravery, he said that the term should be used instead on ‘the so many that preceded [him] and came out when it was a truly brave action in the face of our society’.
The sand in my hourglass is running low and I had very little left to risk when I finally came out. But it was still scary. You who preceded me in coming out and are responding to my newfound freedom are the brave ones and I want to compliment you for your bravery.
Kenneth’s story will no doubt inspire countless people to embrace who they are.
If you’ve been affected by any of these issues and want to speak to someone in confidence, contact the LGBT Foundation on 0345 3 30 30 30, 10am–6pm Monday to Friday, or email [email protected].
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CreditsKenneth Felts/Facebook and 1 other
Good Morning America