90-Year-Old Man Reveals What Happened To The Man Who Inspired Him To Come Out As Gay After Living Almost A Century In The Closet

It's never too late to be who you are.

older man sitting on a bench reading a book Branislav Nenin via Shutterstock / Olena Kiyan via Canva

Though acceptance of LGBTQ+ people reached an all-time high in 2022, older members of the community know all too well that it wasn't so long ago that it was largely necessary to hide that part of yourself to remain safe.

This is why, despite realizing that he was gay at the age of 12, 90-year-old Kenneth Felts suppressed his true self.

Felts told The Denver Post that he never actually planned on coming out of the closet. 


“Coming out in the ’50s, ’60s and ’70s was horrendous,” Felts said. “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.”

However, the truth came out when he started writing his autobiography in 2020, during which time he reminisced on his true love: a man named Phillip.

RELATED: Husband's Response To His Wife Coming Out As Gay Is Receiving Mixed Reactions — 'The Pain In His Eyes'


Felts recalled falling in love with Phillip in the 1950s.

"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 in a Facebook post, 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," Felts explained.

Felts wrested with these conflicting feelings before finally leaving Phillip behind.


"I don’t remember what I told Phillip about the reason for my leaving," Felts wrote. "Whatever it was, it was not the truth."

Felts ended up marrying and having a child before eventually getting divorced.

At 90 years old, Felts let it slip to his daughter that his biggest regret was leaving Phillip — the first time he had ever spoken about being gay to anyone. 

"He's just so brave and he doesn't even realize that he is, but it's extraordinary," his daughter, Rebecca Mayes, told The Denver Post.

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. 


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." 

He received an outpouring of support from everyone in his life. Felts received countless, positive comments on Facebook, which helped him feel relieved.

RELATED: After Overhearing A Private Phone Call, A Dad Writes A Note To His Gay Son Who Hadn't Come Out Yet

Now that he is out of the closet, he has embraced his true self and hopes to inspire others to do the same. 

"He just really seemed to take it and run with it," his daughter-in-law Tracie Mayes told The Denver Post. "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. 

Even though he is 90 years old, he still has the 'it's better late than never' attitude, 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. 

As for his short life with Phillip, Felts' Facebook post revealed 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."


Despite never reconnecting with Phillip, it appears Felts has found true love once more. He married a man named Johnnie in 2023 and regularly posts pictures of their life together.

Felts also wants to encourage those who feel as though they have to hide a part of themselves to reconsider.

"Don't underestimate your friends and family. You might be surprised at how they react if you were to decide to come out," he told The Denver Post. "Enjoy what you've got while you've got it because you've only got it once." 


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Emily Francos is a writer who covers astrology, pop culture, and relationship topics.