At age 90, former counselor and supervisor for the state of Colorado, Kenneth Felts, chose a way to celebrate pride month that few of his peers probably could imagine by coming out of the closet publicly to his family and friends.
Felts says he’s known he was gay since he was 12, and decided to finally go public while trying to write his memoirs during the COVID-19 pandemic. He began to relive a romance he had in the 1950s with a man named Philip, whom he identifies as his one true love. Grappling with the memories of his relationship with Phillip finally pushed him to go public.
“Coming out in the ’50s, ’60s and ’70s was horrendous,” Felts told The Denver Post.
“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.”
Felts ended up splitting from Philip, and the two lost track of one another. Felts went on to marry a woman, have a child and then divorce. Ironically, Felts’ only child — a daughter named Rebecca — came out as a lesbian while in college. Naturally, she was the first person Kenneth came out to.
“I’ve been in the closet all my life — deep in the closet, behind rows and rows of clothing. I’m way back there,” Felts says.
“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.”
Rebecca and her wife, Tracie Mays, have both embraced Kenneth’s coming out with open arms, while also encouraging him to be a part of the LGBTQ community. Felts didn’t hesitate.
“He just really seemed to take it and run with it,” Mays says. “He seems to be making up for lost time and really is owning it, which is fantastic.”
Felts is now proudly donning his pride flag hoodie and attending senior coffee group meetings. He is also raising money for the LGBTQ community through charity events, such as an upcoming 5K. In addition to all of this, he also loves spending time with Rebecca, Tracie, and his two grandchildren.
Felts has one message: live out, proud, and without fear.
“Don’t underestimate your friends and family,” he urges. “You might be surprised at how they react if you were to decide to come out. Enjoy what you’ve got while you’ve got it because you’ve only got it once.”