Kenneth Felts firmly believed he was destined for hell and kept his homosexuality as secret for the best past of his life
BROUGHT up in a devout Christian family, Felts, above, was taught that that homosexuality was a sin and he was convinced that that, ‘ if I were to come out as gay, I would probably go to hell.’
So for decades Felts kept his homosexuality a secret – until he decided to use COVID-19 lockdown time to write a memoir in which he revealed a secret he had kept hidden his entire life: His true sexuality.
Felts, who now lives in Arvada, Colorado, told CNN that he’s known he was gay since he was 12. But he said he made the choice to conceal his sexuality, because he grew up during a time when homosexuality was both frowned upon and illegal.
Felts said his memoir couldn’t go on without writing about his one true love, Phillip. So at age 90, he finally came out to his daughter and then to the rest of his friends and family through a Facebook post that said:
I am gay, I am out, and I am free.
Since then, Felts has a become media star, giving interviews and garnering good wishes from around the globe.
Felts told CNN:
I just knew that if I were to come out as gay, I would probably go to hell. I was going to the grave with (my secret).
So throughout his young adult years, including his deployment to Korea with the US Navy during the Korean War, and his following years in college, Felts lived as a straight man.
In the late 1950s, he moved to Long Beach, California, to work at a retail credit company. And it was there he met Phillip Jones. For over a year, they lived as a happy, albeit secret, gay couple.
When I was living with Phillip in California, homosexuality itself was illegal. It was a felony, we couldn’t hold hands or anything like that. You would be arrested on exhibition of such behavior. Once you go to court, your information is spread all around town and you lose your friends, your family.
California’s sodomy law wasn’t repealed until 1975.
Ultimately, the burden of being gay in a society where it was considered a crime became too much for Felts, and he decided to break it off with Jones.
I will die always regretting having left Phillip but hopefully he forgave me.
Societal pressure forced Felts into marriage. He met a woman at his church’s youth group. They got married and had a daughter, but they divorced in 1980. Even then he didn’t dare to come out as he was scared he could lose custody of his daughter, Rebecca Mayes.
Mayes, 48, knew that her father had some regrets in life. She had always thought that they were related to her mother, but she finally learned in May during the pandemic the source of her father’s pain.
We were on the phone and he told me that he missed out on the one true love of his life. He didn’t say male or female.
Later that day, Felts revealed to Mayes in an email that his one true love was indeed Phillip Jones.
Mayes said she was surprised to hear that her father was gay, considering the fact that he reacted to her coming out as lesbian 25 years ago with dismay.
But she said her father quickly came around and became her and her wife’s biggest supporter. Said Mayes, who now has two children:
I think he had the same fears for me that he had himself about what a tough life it could be, everything from not being able to have children to societal issues.
After coming out to his daughter, Felts soon revealed his truth to the rest of the world in a Facebook post that was met with overwhelming support and love, he said. He even shared the story about Phillip Jones in hopes that someone could help find him. He then learned that Jones had died in 2013.
Felts said his coming out and his celebration of his true nature was prompted by Jones.
I loved him till the end and I’m doing this all for him.
Mayes said her father is more outgoing and confident than ever.
Felts said he hopes his story will give others the courage to embrace their sexuality as well.
There’s a whole world out there that will accept you and love you for who you are.
He’s right … to a point. But there are a lot of ruthless faith-based “gay cure” organisations like the Core Issues Trust – led by the despicable “ex-gay” Mike Davidson, above – who’d jump at the chance to drive him back into the closet and destroy what remains of his life.
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