ARVADA, Colo. (KDVR) – While we were all staying in during the coronavirus pandemic, Kenneth Felts was coming out.
After concealing his sexuality for 90 years, the Arvada father and grandfather used his time in COVID-19 isolation to write his memoir. On its pages, he revealed for the first time that he is gay. Once he delivered the news to his daughter, he shared it with the world in a Facebook post that has since gone viral. The story has been picked up by news agencies around the globe, and Felts has appeared on the BBC, Australian television and several programs in the United States.
“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,” Felts told FOX31.
He continues to receive messages of support on Facebook from well-wishers all around the globe.
Felts, a Korean War veteran who was married years ago, was initially perplexed by all of the interest in his story.
“I’m just an old guy who’s 90 who decided to get off the closet floor and walk out the door,” Felts joked.
October is LGBTQ History Month, which includes National Coming Out Day. Data from the U.S. Census estimates that about there are about 3 million LGBTQ adults over age 50 living in the US, and that number is expected to grow to around 7 million by 2030. But elder members of the LGBTQ community are twice as likely to be single and live alone, four times less likely to have children, and far more likely than heterosexuals to have faced discrimination, social stigma and prejudice.
Still, coming out of the closet at age 90 is not as unusual as you might think.
“Some folks may come out after their spouse has passed away. I believe coming out is a process,” said Reynaldo Mireles, director of elder services at The Center on Colfax.
“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,” Mireles added.
“People are realizing this is a lot more common than they thought. It’s not as stigmatized because of the resources available to people,” said Levi Teachey, board member at PFLAG Denver, a support organization for the gay community.
“I admire all the courage and strength it took to do this. We’re here for people like Ken, who need resources and need to know that there’s somebody who’s got their back,” Teachey added.
Felts says he’s known he as gay since age 12, and had planned to take his sexuality with him to the grave. But a bout with cancer last year, coupled with his time in lockdown from the coronavirus, convinced him it was time to be his true 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!” Felts said.