It’s never too late to be who you are.
At the age of 90 years old, Kenneth Felts came out to his friends and family.
After pretending to be straight his whole life, he is now finally able to be himself. Felts hid his true feelings and desires for almost a century. He has suffered so much pain over the years quietly and without complaint.
Felts told The Know that he never actually planned on coming out of the closet. His sexuality was just something he always hid and he never planned to tell anyone.
However, the truth came out when he started writing an autobiography.
In his quest to write an autobiography, Felts reminisced on his true love: a man named Phillip. Felts recalled falling in love with Phillip in California in the 1950s.
Felts first realized that he was gay when he was 12 years old. But he did not feel like he could live his life as a gay man, unfortunately. So, he let his soulmate go and lived his life as a straight man.
In a Facebook post, Felts told the story about meeting Philip.
“I was still horribly conflicted by opposing emotions. What was so right was really wrong, and what was wrong felt so terribly right. I never shared this battle with Phillip,” Felts wrote, describing the guilt he felt as a Christian to also have feelings for a man. “While I had no shame about our physical union, guilt had arrived like an express train. Like the wind, without form, but exceedingly destructive and all-consuming.”
He ended up marrying and having a child before eventually getting divorced.
He does not regret marrying a woman because without doing so, he would not have his daughter in his life. She is his whole world, which he frequently reminds her of since he came out as being gay.
He recently let it slip to his daughter that his biggest regret was leaving Phillip. This was the first time he has ever spoken about being gay to anyone.
His daughter, Rebecca Mayes said, “He’s just so brave and he doesn’t even realize that he is, but it’s extraordinary.”
After he came out to his daughter, he decided that he had to let everyone know he was gay. He wasn’t hiding anymore. He put that he was gay on Facebook and sent emails out explaining that he always felt that he was two different people because he always suppressed one side of himself. But now, he doesn’t want to hide his gayness anymore.
He received an outpouring of support from everyone in his life. Felts received countless, positive comments on Facebook, which helped him feel relieved.
He was so afraid of what people would say, but he posted and sent the messages anyway.
Felts said, “I’ve been in the closet all my life — deep in the closet, behind rows and rows of clothing. I’m way back here. 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.”
Now, since he is out of the closet, he has embraced the whole lifestyle.
His daughter-in-law Tracie Mayes said, “He just really seemed to take it and run with it. He seems to be making up for lost time and really is owning it, which is fantastic.”
He bought a rainbow flag that he hung up to have behind him when he called into his virtual LGBTQ senior coffee group meeting.
He wears his fashionable rainbow hoodie pretty much every day.
He also is taking steps to raise money and participate and events that support the LGBTQ community.
As for his short life with Philip, Felts’ Facebook post reveals that he still thinks about it often.
“I never talked with Phillip again although he wrote several letters to me. In his last message he told me if I did not reply, he would not bother me again. I had not replied to his previous letters and again, I did not respon[d],” Felts wrote. “That was a decision that I have long regretted and even now, I still do.”
Felts is so thankful that the world has become so much more tolerant and accepting of the LGBTQ community. There are so many more resources available now than he would have had sixty years ago.
Because gays were not as widely accepted when he was younger, he said, “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 on their own, without support. And I guess I didn’t have the courage to face society at that time, so I just went heat and buried it.
Overall, he is hoping his story will inspire others to let themselves be their true self.
Even though he is 90 years old, he still has the attitude of it’s better late than never taking a risk to find his whole happiness.
He never wants anyone to have to suffer and pretend to be someone else for their whole life because they are afraid of what society might think.
Felts also wants to convey to those specifically who are hiding who you are, “Don’t underestimate your friends and family. 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.”
If you are in a similar situation, look to felts as an example of how your fears are most likely blown out of proportion. Take a chance and use your courage to just blurt it out and if the people in your life truly love you, they will accept you for exactly who you are.
Emily Francos is a writer who covers astrology, pop culture, and relationship topics.