DENVER — At 90 years old, Kenneth Felts realized he'd die one day without most people truly knowing who he was.
"I was going to go to the grave as a straight person," Felts said.
That's why, as he wrote a memoir after beating cancer, Felts decided to come out as gay, first to his daughter last year and then to his friends on social media.
“Didn't mean to, but I put it on a public Facebook and wham! I started getting memos, letters, and everything else,” Felts said. “It's a freedom that I received from coming out that made it possible to really start enjoying life."
Felts is just one example of an elder who has found connection through The Center on Colfax's virtual elder program.
The Center on Colfax — the largest LGBTQ+ community center in the Rocky Mountain region, headquartered on Colfax Avenue in Denver — organized the virtual get-togethers as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, as Felts and other elder Coloradans were forced to stay isolated.
“What we do here is offer a safe space for people to be themselves,” said Joe Foster, the vice president of development and communication for The Center on Colfax. "Our main focus was to make sure that our community felt safe and that they weren't isolated."
Felts called the virtual program a lifeline — especially after an emotional couple years.
He was diagnosed with cancer in 2019.
Doctors prescribed 10 treatments of chemotherapy. Felts said he couldn't take it anymore after the fifth treatment.
"I don't want it," he recalled saying. "I"ll die instead."
Thankfully, the chemotherapy began working. But as Felts healed, the pandemic hit, leaving him isolated.
"I had no idea what I was going to do to keep myself alive," Felts said.
Then he got an idea from his personal trainer, who lit a spark in Felts to write a memoir of his life.
Felts began reliving his life and realized that most people didn't know who he was: A gay man who had lived his life as straight.
He came out to his daughter. And in his memoir, he recounted a relationship he had in the 1950s with a man named Phillip.
After telling his friends on Facebook, he found acceptance he had never known. The virtual program through The Center on Colfax was just a continuation of that connection he discovered online.
"It gave me something to look forward to,” Felts said with a smile. “Coming out at 90, it's never too late to find out who loves you, who doesn’t, and to let yourself love."
For more information on this year’s hybrid Pride celebration in Denver, click HERE.