It’s never too late to embrace your true self. No one embodies that more than when this grandfather comes out as gay. After living in secrecy 90 years, Kenneth Felts was ready to be his authentic self.
Grandfather Comes Out as Gay At 90 Years Old
At the age of 90, Kenneth, who lives in Colorado, decided to write his memoirs. As they tend to do, writing about his life brought up some emotional memories. For Kenneth, the most difficult of these were of his first love – with a man. (1)
Kenneth is gay and has known this for a very, very long time. His first love was with a man named Phillip. Their relationship was secret and could never thrive because of their fears of the anti-LGBTQ+ attitudes of the 50s and 60s. (1)
The lack of community for gay people and his fear of being ousted by his friends and family caused Kenneth to bury himself as deeply into the closet as he could. (1)
“I’ve been in the closet all my life – deep in the closet, behind rows and rows of clothing,” he explained to The Denver Post. “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.” (2)
He first came out in an emotional conversation with his daughter Rebecca, who identifies as a lesbian. She is extremely proud of him for finally making the decision to live the rest of his life fully as he is. (1)
“He’s just so brave and he doesn’t even realise that he is, but it’s extraordinary,” she says. (1)
Facing His Fears
After speaking with his daughter, Kenneth wrote an email to his friends and family, and then later published a lengthy post on his Facebook page informing the others in his life. In his post, he explained that he always felt as though he was two people: A straight man named Ken and a gay man named Larry. (1)
Over 50 years after ending his love affair out of fear of anti-gay repercussions, Kenneth was met with an outpouring of love and acceptance from his community. (1)
In the past, Kenneth was afraid to be open about who he was because there really wasn’t a community for gay people back then the way there is now. Where he lived, if you decided to come out you were largely on your own. He was terrified at the idea of losing the people closest to him. (1)
“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.” (1)
From Closeted to Activist
Since coming out, Kenneth has embraced himself and the LGBTQ+ community with gusto. Most of his photos on Facebook feature him wearing a rainbow hooded sweatshirt. He has become an active fundraiser for many LGBTQ+ charities and participated in the Denver Pride Virtual 5km walk. In that event, he raised $450 for the Center on Colfax, an LGBTQ+ organization in Colorado. (1)
Now, he encourages others who are afraid to come out to have the courage to live their lives as their authentic selves. His hope is that his story will inspire others to make the most of their lives and live them the way they want to while they still have it. (1)
What happened to his first love, Phillip?
If you’re wondering this, you’re not alone. This is why Kenneth recently addressed this in a Facebook post. You can see it below.
Happy Pride Month, everyone!