'I Found Love At 90 With A 31-Year-Old—After Finally Coming Out'

For the first half of 2020, I had been isolating alone for some time because of treatment for cancer and the COVID-19 pandemic. I started writing my memoirs and eventually I told my daughter about a relationship I had had long ago, with a man named Phillip. I came out to her, and then publicly on Facebook, on June 5, 2020, at the age of 90.

I began to receive up to 200 messages a day on Facebook, but I wasn't able to look at all of them because I just didn't have the time. In October 2020, I found a month-old message from a man named John and decided to open it. I was very surprised to see that he was a local person—also living in Denver, Colorado—who was asking to meet and talk with me. I had never met up with anyone who had messaged me before, but I liked his picture so I said OK. I called him on the phone and we set up blind date at a restaurant for Friday, October 16, 2020.

It had been a while since I'd been on a date so I was really anxious about how he would react to me. I'm old and everybody knows that, and I wondered what he would think when he saw my face.

When he arrived, John was dressed in black with his black mask. We actually both had our masks on right up until the salad course was brought out. That was the first time we actually saw each other. We got talking and soon found that we had lots in common. Neither one of us smokes or drinks and neither of us uses foul language. We talked about shows that we liked and things we both enjoy around town; we both really like Asian food.

After a while, the place began to get busy and noisy. At first I thought I would just say goodnight and go home, but I suggested we go out to my car and sit there to talk. Right after we got into the car John reached over and took my hand. I remember thinking, "Oh my!" and I did not pull my hand back.

When we finally said goodbye, John started towards his car, but then he came back and opened my car door: he'd forgotten his phone. He then asked if he should follow me home in his car, to spend more time together, and I couldn't turn him down. We talked and kissed and he finally left just as the sun was about to come up.

John came back over the same afternoon and we've been going together ever since then. It's now been eight months. John works full time as a computer technician—he's a bit of a computer geek and he's helped me a lot with my computer—and after that first weekend, he started coming over on Fridays after work to spend the weekend with me. He had three roommates so I didn't visit him as it would have been less comfortable for us. For six or seven months that's what we did—just getting to know each other.

It began to get more serious and John's work contract at a local school was coming to an end because of the summer holidays. A few weeks ago, he was going to take a vacation, and we thought that would be a good time for him to try out living with me full time. So that's what we did.

We shop together and although I love to cook, John doesn't so he's getting used to my cooking. So far he says it's very good. I'm having a bit of a problem because he likes spicy food and I don't. I'm learning to eat a bit of spice though, and we're trying all kinds of new foods together.

We've been to the local botanic gardens and seen all the beautiful flowers there and we're planning to visit the Denver Museum of Nature & Science before long. We walk in the park together so I can get my 3,000 steps a day, with John's encouragement.

John is originally from Mexico, where there are plenty of tarantulas, but he's afraid of them. There's a place in town called the Butterfly Pavilion where there is a tarantula called Rosie you can hold. We went there recently so John could hold Rosie and see if he could overcome a bit of his fear. He did well!

Kenneth and John at Denver Botanic Gardens
Kenneth W. Felts and his partner John have been together for eight months. Kenneth W. Felts

John's birthday is May 16 and mine is May 20, so we celebrated our birthdays together this year. I turned 91 and he turned 32. We've talked a lot about the age difference between us. John prefers older men and he's happy. His age has never bothered me at all. It may bother other people but that's their business. My problem is getting enough of him, I miss him when he's gone!

Most of our friends now are also gay, and a number of them are in younger/older unions or marriages. It really doesn't come up, nobody says anything about it because we're two people who are happy together. That's all our friends care about. Whenever it comes up in Facebook comments—and it does come up—I say that age is just a number. Of course it is an important number, but it is just a number.

We know that some people are going to think that perhaps John is taking advantage of me, with him being a younger person and me an older person. A few people have commented on that but I keep saying, my daughter has met John many times, he even joined us for our family Christmas, and she is not at all concerned.

My daughter is actually the first person I told about John and she will tell anyone that she's never seen me so happy. I have another friend I have known for many years who tells me that I seem 15 years younger since I met John.

It is such a happy relationship. We have little differences now and then but we work them right through; we're open with each other. We've said I love you over and over. His birthday card to me says: "I will love you forever."

And I love him, that's all there is to it. It came out of the blue; a realization that this is a really nice guy who I'd like to know much better. Moving from holding hands to intimacy was an easy step because he's such a wonderful guy, and I think he thinks pretty much the same about me.

Kenneth and John celebrating Christmas together
Kenneth W. Felts and his partner John celebrated Christmas together, along with John's daughter, Rebecca. Kenneth W. Felts

I've had two great loves in my life. At the beginning of my life I had a year long relationship with a man called Phillip. That was great, I'll never forget it and nothing will replace it.

But we were both very naive and it was our first time in a relationship. Phillip was also five years younger than me; he was 23 and I was 27. We were living in California which was very homophobic at the time and we had nobody but ourselves. We were experimenting and finding out what it was like to be gay. It was a step at a time with Phillip and we had our entire relationship in secret. I left him without saying goodbye and I regretted that for a long time.

Now at the end of my life, I have this love with John. It's much more mature. Having been with Phillip I knew what I wanted, so it was easier. It's different but it's just as wonderful. I'm so fortunate that I've had two wonderful people that I've been able to get close to.

For a long time, one of the big wishes I had was to find Phillip. My dream was reuniting with him. That's the only thing I was looking at until I came out. After I came out, someone found Phillip but unfortunately he had passed away. In a sense, that was the first time that I felt I was free of Phillip. I can no longer ask his forgiveness, I can just hope that he did forgive me for leaving.

But I am free now. That freedom is tangible, I can almost feel it. Phillip wasn't standing in the way when I met John. I had let go of the past and I was ready for something new. We may get married in the future but it's still under discussion. After all, I could die tomorrow. We're just taking it one day at a time.

A year and a half ago, when I had cancer, I was ready to die. I told the surgeon that I didn't want any more treatment because I had given up on everything.

Then I came out, and from that point forward, my life started getting jolly again. Life is completely different from even a year ago. I want to live it now, I don't want to die.

Kenneth W. Felts lives in Arvada, Colorado with his partner John. He came out to friends and family in 2020 at the age of 90.

All views expressed in this piece are the writer's own.

As told to Jenny Haward.

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