After nearly a century of hiding his true sexuality, a ninety-year-old man has finally come out as gay.
Keep scrolling to read Kenneth’s remarkable story, and to hear why he’s chosen to come out after all these years…
June has, for years now, been the month of Pride.
People across the globe use this month to celebrate the impact that the LGBTQ community has had on the world.
People from all walks of life, who have faced prejudice at home and in their day-to-day lives, join in with the month-long celebration.
Pride month was initially created to commemorate the Stonewall riots, which saw members of New York’s gay community protest and fight for their rights.
At that time, Americans were living under an anti-gay legal system. On the morning of June 28, 1969, police raided the Stonewall Inn, which catered for LGBTQ and other minority groups at the time.
The modern fight for LGBTQ rights in the US began with this riot.
Within 6 months, 2 gay activist organizations were formed in New York and, within just a few years, gay rights organizations were founded across the US and the rest of the world.
And every year, we see huge parties and parades from all over the world.
But sadly, there are still people out there who don’t feel comfortable or safe with coming out as gay.
There is still a feeling of fear amongst the community.
An overwhelming majority – ninety-two percent, to be precise – of America’s gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender community say they feel more accepted today than ten years ago; however, fifty-three percent still feel that discrimination exists, a 2013 survey claimed.
And, sadly, some will never officially come out, out of the fear of rejection and discrimination from their family and friends.
Kenneth Felts, from Colorado, is the latest addition to the LGBTQ+ community… At the ripe age of ninety.
But now, he’s out and he’s prouder than ever before.
And, from her, he has 2 grandchildren.
However, despite marrying a woman all those years ago, Kenneth has always known he was gay.
Kenneth started writing down his life story while isolating at home, and that’s when he started thinking about Phillip, a man he fell in love with back in the 1950s.
“Coming out in the 50s, 60s, and 70s was horrendous,” Kenneth explained when discussing his feelings at the time. “That was part of the reason I didn’t ever consider coming out.”
“I guess I didn’t have the courage to face society at that time, so I just went ahead and buried it.”
It was the first time he’d ever told anyone he was gay.
“I’ve been in the closet all my life, deep in the closet,” he said. “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.”
So he did.
Kenneth updated his Facebook profile picture to a photo of him wearing a hoodie emblazoned with the pride flag, and his family are simply thrilled to see him embracing his true identity after years of quiet pain and suffering.
“He’s just so brave and he doesn’t even realize that he is, but it’s extraordinary,” said his daughter, Rebecca Mayes.
Kenneth explained how Phillip, whom he had met in the church, was more open to being gay than he was, as he was still deeply invested in his Christian values at the time.
“I have always hoped Phillip found the peace and comforting love which he deserved and which I would never again attain.”
But, heartbreakingly, he recently found out that he had passed away.
Sharing a photo of his love onto Facebook, he wrote:
“Phillip Allen Jones was the love of my life. I have a very sad and lonely heart today. My first and greatest love has passed away.”
About what he had learned about Phillip’s later life, Kenneth wrote:
“He lived a full and happy life I am told by his niece. His partner of many years passed just a few years ago and Phillip remained alone for the rest of his life. I feel I shared with him the best years of his youth and he certainly made mine memorable and I will always remember and appreciate that.”
It is uncertain as to whether Phillip had ever come out as gay.
He recently participated in a 5K walk to raise money for Denver Pride, and he regularly attends a virtual LGBTQ senior coffee group in his area.
“He just really seemed to take it and run with it,” his daughter’s wife, Tracie, said. “He seems to be making up for the lost time and really is owning it, which is fantastic.”
Kenneth, you’re amazing!