The year 2020 marks the 30th anniversary of the International Day of Older Persons on 1 October.
The composition of the world population has changed dramatically in recent decades. Between 1950 and 2010, life expectancy worldwide rose from 46 to 68 years. Globally there were 703 million persons aged 65 or over in 2019. Over the next three decades, the number of older persons worldwide is projected to more than double, reaching more than 1.5 billion persons in 2050.
Greater Manchester is already the UK’s first Age-Friendly city region according to the World Health Organisation. The Mayor of Greater Manchester, Andy Burnham, has issued an Age-Friendly challenge to make Greater Manchester the best place in the UK to grow older.
Talking About My Generation have produced a video for Andy Burnham’s “Ageing Narrative” campaign:
Here are some stories to celebrate older persons:
Kenneth Felts is gay, out, free and 90 years of age!
This is a story that says: “It is never too late”
Kenneth Felts didn’t plan on coming out to the world. In fact, he didn’t plan on coming out to anyone until the coronavirus pandemic struck.
Kenneth had kept his sexuality hidden all his life, but that changed when memories of his first love flooded back as he sat down to write a memoir earlier this year.
Kenneth knew he was gay since he was 12 years old, and despite a few brief flings during his adolescence and young adulthood, he kept it hidden because of his Christian upbringing. It wasn’t until meeting Phillip – the love of his life – nearly 60 years ago that he briefly lived out his life as an out gay man.
“The only thing I could do was just hide it, and I hid it deep and dark, and I stayed in that basement for the rest of my life practically,” he said. “I just denied it and ignored it.”
The way Kenneth tells it, he planned on sending a message to his close friends and family – and, by accident or fate, shared it as a public Facebook post. He has since gained international notoriety.
With the help of a kind stranger on Facebook by the name of Tina Wood, he was able to track down his long lost love – Phillip Allen Jones – only to find that he had died just a few years ago.
Kenneth spoke from his home in Arvada, Colorado, USA about his first Pride celebration in quarantine, the search for his first love and his advice for people who are struggling to come out.
Would you walk me through your decision to come out this year?
Back in April, Colorado, like other places, went under the pandemic and lockdown. And, so here I was at home – and I live alone … I thought, OK, I think this is the time that I should write my memoirs. It really got back to some old, old memories of my time in the past and I wrote them down. And one of them was about my first love, Phillip.
A little later about in late May, early June, I was talking to my daughter one day and I just said to her out of the blue, I said, “I wish I had never left Phillip.” And she had never heard of Phillip before, and so I thought, well, I’m going to have to explain this one. So I did; I told her what it was and she was very accepting.
And from that, then I thought, well, she did very good at taking that, better than I expected. So I think I’m going to have to just let everybody know. And I decided to send emails to my friends, which I did, but I sent the same email as a Facebook (post publicly) which I did not really intend to do, but it did. And it went everywhere and I started getting replies real quick. … That’s how I came out, it was totally unintentional. I had really planned on taking it to the grave with me and never, never being anything other than straight.
By the time your story reached national headlines, it coincided with Pride in June. How did you celebrate your first Pride as an out gay man?
My daughter came out 20 years ago to me. So for 20 years then we’d been living with a gay daughter, but a straight father who was really gay. In support of her, I had been attending the (Denver) Pride Fest as a volunteer and helping them with some of the work that goes on there. I did that until I couldn’t walk down there anymore.
This year being the first year as an out (gay man) for the virtual Pride Fest, I did the 5K race. I did it with a walker and I did it for one half-mile in 22 minutes. We picked a very nice city park near here, and I walked on the sidewalk around that for my portion of the thing. And it was nice to be wearing my rainbow hoodie out in public, where people could see it and me. … I’ve never felt so free. Not having to judge everything I do on the basis of, “Will this out me?”
What was the process of meeting Phillip, and what that was like for you?
I finished high school and two years of college, then I joined the Navy and spent four years on a minesweeper.
When I got out of college, I went home and finished my bachelor’s degree. Then I decided to go back to California, where I really had loved the land out there when I was in the Navy. I went to work for a place in Long Beach called Retail Credit Company. We do investigations of insurance applications in the morning, and in the afternoon we write up reports.
As a new person, I was struggling getting those reports written when Phillip, another agent, came over to help me. We hit it off real good, started going out for coffee, and then we started dating. And then eventually I moved up to his house in Bellflower, where we lived with his sister and her daughter. So I was there from, for about nine or ten months, really. And Phillip and I, we’re living there together. Every weekend, we’d go out on excursions to the area, to ghost towns, to the cactus bloom, down to the seashore, things like that. So we were constantly together there.
And then one Sunday morning, he sang in the choir. He came from the Church of God, went to a four-year college of the Church of God in Anderson, Indiana. I sat in the pews watching the goings-on, and as I, sat there, my old Christian values started popping up and just swept over me like a windstorm. I had this conflict right then and there. We lasted about another month before I just couldn’t take it any longer. And I left and have actually been kind of looking for Phillip ever since then.
What was your life like after losing Phillip?
Because of that, I had to make the decision: straight or gay. And since I had said, I can’t do this with Phillip, then I can’t do it with anybody. So at that point, it was to go straight.
I went back home to Dodge City, met an old friend who had a floral shop in Colorado Springs that he wanted me to manage. I went out there as the manager. I joined the Methodist Church. I became a member of the staff. I met a young lady in the adult youth group and we started dating and I married her on 1 June 1963. In 1972, we had a daughter. In 1980, we got divorced. And I had been absolutely straight that entire time, but the minute we got divorced, I tried to find Phillip again, went through the phone books in the library because there was no internet in those days. Never found Phillip, but could not come out because if I had, I would not have custody of my daughter. The state would not allow me to be a gay man and keep my daughter at home so I could not come out then.
And so I just had to stay straight until she was out of school, but then it was too late. It didn’t matter. She came out to me over 20 years ago, which rather surprised me because she says I’m gay and what do I say? Well, I can’t say I’m gay also.
That’s when I started deciding that gay was okay to be out, but I wasn’t out. I didn’t, I just didn’t do it. And then when I wrote my memoirs … a lady on the East Coast who does searching for parents of children who are adopted, wrote me and said that she’d be glad to look for Phillip for me. And within a week she had found first, she thought he was still alive. And I was really overjoyed when she sent me that memo. But then the next one was no, he died a few years ago. So then I was able to get ahold of Phillip’s niece who sent me some pictures of his and told me a little bit about him. So I missed out by a few years. But at least I, I know where he is.
What advice would you have for anybody young or old about living your life to the fullest and being out and proud?
I know I’m in an unusual position and I just came out just like that. I hadn’t even planned on it or no, nothing, but I would think that if a person is contemplating coming out, they first need to check on what support systems are available to them.
When I came out there was. I wasn’t looking for anything and I, I have found it and I’m utilising it. Back when I thought about coming out, there were no support groups.
The other thing they will find when they come out, what I found, it’s amazing how much love there is out in the community. And they’re going to share it with you. They’re going to pour it on you by the bucket full. I get memo after memo telling me how they are supporting me and they love me. Never expected that. I didn’t expect any kind of response like I’ve been getting. And so I think other people will kind of have the same experience that they might be surprised just how many people support them. It’s never too late to come out.
This is another story that says: “It is never too late”. Although it dates back to September 2014, it’s a very heart warming story.
Lesbian couple in their nineties sit next to each other as they finally marry after 72 years together.
Vivian Boyack, 91, and Alice ‘Nonie’ Dubes, 90, finally tied the knot at First Christian Church in Davenport, Iowa, USA after 72 years together.
Nonie said the two have enjoyed their life together and over the years they have travelled to all 50 states, all the provinces of Canada, and to England twice.
“We’ve had a good time,” Nonie said.
Vivian said it takes a lot of love and work to keep a relationship going for 72 years.
Long time friend Jerry Yeast, 73, said he got to know the couple when he worked in their yard as a teenager. “I’ve known these two women all my life, and I can tell you, they are special,” Jerry said.
Iowa began allowing gay marriage in 2009.
The two women say it is never too late for a new chapter in life.
Axel Axgil (3 April 1915 – 29 October 2011) and Eigil Axgil (24 April 1922 – 22 September 1995) were Danish gay activists and a longtime couple. They were the first gay couple to enter into a registered partnership anywhere in the world following Denmark’s legalisation of same-sex partnership registration in 1989, a landmark legislation which they were instrumental in bringing about.
They adopted the shared surname, Axgil, a combination of their given names, as an expression of their commitment.
3 thoughts on “Pride of Manchester – Lifetime Achievement Award … International Day of Older Persons”
Thank you Tony, that brought tears to my eyes… so many powerful stories and images
Luchia is a true gem one of life’s wonderful people.
Hello Tony your good work continues and so very interesting these are the facts bigots need to know. We have an history. Thank you king regards Helen x
Thanks Tony. Lovely, moving stories.