After nearly eight decades in the closet, 90-year-old Colorado resident Kenneth Felts came out in a big way when penning his autobiography in quarantine reminded him of the love he had with another man when he was young, according to The Denver Post.
“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 told the Post. “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.”
Working on his autobiography in lockdown brought Felts’s emotions back to Phillip, a man he loved in California in the ’50s before he buried his identity and lived outwardly as a straight man. Felts shared with his daughter Rebecca Mayes, who came out as a lesbian 20 years ago and is now married to Tracie Mayes, that he regretted leaving Phillip and has since tried to find him to no avail.
Following his conversation with his daughter, Felts wrote emails to friends and also a Facebook post in which he explained that he always felt as though he had two identities — Ken, who is straight, and Larry who is gay.
He then got really involved. He bought a rainbow flag, a rainbow hoodie, and began organizing for LGBTQ+ causes, according to the Post.
“He just really seemed to take it and run with it,” Felts’s daughter-in-law Tracie Mayes said. “He seems to be making up for lost time and really is owning it, which is fantastic.”
Despite realizing he was gay as far back as age 12, Felts married a woman, and eventually, they were divorced. His daughter Rebecca Mayes is from his marriage.
Felts’s family, friends, and community have been overwhelmingly supportive of his coming-out, he said.
“Don’t underestimate your friends and family. You might be surprised at how they react if you were to decide to come out,” he said. “Enjoy what you’ve got while you’ve got it because you’ve only got it once.”