Kenneth Felts, from Colorado, started reflecting on his life during quarantine and decided to begin work on an autobiography in order to tell his story.
Writing his autobiography triggered old memories and emotions to come up to the surface, and after one long day of writing, he accidentally made reference to the secret that he’d held for the better part of a century.
Kenneth was talking to his daughter, Rebecca Mayes, who he shares with his ex-wife when he let slip something about how he wished he’d ‘never left Phillip’.
Kenneth said in the Good Morning America that Rebecca previously had no idea who Phillip was, but ‘all of a sudden she knew’
Phillip was a man Kenneth had fallen in love within the 1950s, but the latter adopted a straight persona because he did not think he had another choice.
“For a long time, the truth was buried deep down in my soul… I would’ve had to contend with all the scorn from society, be labeled a pervert or deviant. But people are much more accepting today and I felt I had to find the courage.” Kenneth said.
Twenty years ago, Rebecca told her father that she was a lesbian, and while Rebecca was delighted to learn that Kenneth can now ‘finally be himself’, she said she also felt a ‘terrible sadness’ that her father had lost his relationship with the man he loved and that he had to keep his true self a secret for so long.
Kenneth went on to come out to the rest of his family and friends, and in May he took to Facebook to share his news with the world.
He posted a picture of himself wearing a rainbow hoodie, the 90-year-old captioned: ’I am free, I am gay and I am out.’
Kenneth’s friends and family have rallied around him in the wake of the revelation and strangers have celebrated his news on social media, with messages of support flooding in.
“It’s been absolutely overwhelming. The positive response from people all over the country and world, they’re just wonderful and I feel responsible to respond to everyone that comes in,” Kenneth explained.
“I’ve had several people say they were on the verge of making this decision, and my story has helped them. I just hope people understand they’ll be accepted and it’ll be much more positive than they might assume. Certainly, that was the case for me.”
One woman offered to help Kenneth to track down Phillip, unfortunately, it appeared Phillip passed away two years ago. Kenneth said he appreciated the help, adding: ‘The loving memory of him is now living on through all of us.’
“The sand in my hourglass is running low and I had very little left to risk when I finally came out. But it was still scary. You who preceded me in coming out and are responding to my newfound freedom are the brave ones and I want to compliment you for your bravery,” Kenneth added.
The grandfather is now enjoying embracing the LGBTQ+ community and is working to raise money for related events.