Narrator: A few months into the COVID-19 pandemic, as social distancing and isolation began to set in, some people were finding new ways to stay in touch with loved ones and share the things that mattered most in their lives.
Like 90-year old Ken Felts, who spoke with his daughter using StoryCorps Connect earlier this year.
Kenneth Felts (KF): On March 13th we all went under quarantine. And being alone drug up all these memories from the past. And that’s when I came out to you.
Rebecca Felts (RF): Would you entertain having a boyfriend?
KF: Oh absolutely. Hopefully they will consider my age as only a number and not a date for the undertaker.
Narrator: After coming out, Ken also wanted to talk to the one person who inspired him the most… his personal trainer.
They first met in 2013, at Ken’s local rec. center in Colorado. Here they are speaking over StoryCorps Connect, remembering that time.
KF: I kind of thought you were gay from having seen you around the pool before. I was secretly really envying you to be able to be yourself.
David Smith (DS): You asked me, like, a lot of questions about my life. But I knew that you were not comfortable talking about your past.
KF: I wanted to talk to you about that, but I just couldn’t get myself to loosen up.
Most of my gay I had buried very deep and it wasn’t available at that time, even to me. I must have given you some hints, but we never really talked about it.
DS: I think you actually asked me what’s happening with, you know, my friends and the people I’m dating and so I knew that you were curious, and that’s when I started to kind of piece the puzzles together.
I didn’t want to kind of put you on the defense, but I wanted to help you learn more about who I was by us going to the kind of places that I enjoyed going to.
KF: Yeah. I was very nervous. I’d never been in any of the gay establishments along that street or any street for that matter. And I was afraid somebody might be hitting on me and I wouldn’t know what to do. (Laughs)
DS: I know you were nervous, kind of, before, but afterwards how did you feel?
KF: I kind of felt good in that I had successfully ventured into another world and I felt gratitude to you for having done it; because I knew I couldn’t do it on my own.
DS: That’s when, ya know, we kinda got close and started really chatting more. And when you came out, you know, I thought that was really powerful. Everybody fights their own battles…and everybody kind of has their own mountains to climb.
And I think that’s the biggest lesson that you taught me.
KF: David, I think you may know that you’re really my rock.
DS: You’re probably one of the strongest friendships I’ve ever had.
KF: I get emotional when I think of our friendship. But it was very meaningful to me and still is and will always be.