A Decade of Transformation: The Stories of Johnny Javier Hau Dzib and Kenneth Wayne Felts
A Nighttime Drive: A Journey to Hope
A decade ago, Johnny Javier Hau Dzib found himself driving aimlessly through his Denver neighborhood, consumed by dark thoughts of suicide. However, as time passed, things began to change for the better. Similarly, Kenneth Wayne Felts, years later and in a different city, contemplated death while undergoing chemotherapy for Hodgkin’s lymphoma. Fed up with the toll it was taking on his quality of life, Felts made the brave decision to end his treatments. When the two men crossed paths later that year, both had made significant progress in overcoming their personal struggles. Mr. Felts, a Navy veteran who had recently come out as gay, inspired Mr. Hau, an IT specialist, to follow his lead on a journey of self-discovery.
An Extraordinary Age Gap: Love Finds a Way
At 34 years old, Mr. Hau met Mr. Felts, who was a remarkable 93 years old. Born in 1930 during the Great Depression in Dodge City, Kansas, Felts had grown up in a deeply religious household, which led to profound guilt and secrecy regarding his romantic relationships with male schoolmates. As a member of the Navy in the 1950s, when homosexuality was strictly frowned upon, Felts lived in fear of being exposed and dishonorably discharged. In an attempt to avoid suspicion, he distanced himself from fellow gay individuals. Despite his efforts to conform to societal expectations, Felts had a secret love affair with a co-worker named Phillip Jones. However, his guilt ultimately drove him away from California and the love of his life, and he spent years searching for Jones to no avail.
A Life of Secrecy: Soul-Searching and Acceptance
Continuing to live as a straight man, Felts moved to Colorado Springs in the 1960s and married Mary Guinn, with whom he had a daughter named Rebecca. Even when Rebecca came out as gay, Felts remained convinced the relationship wouldn’t last. However, in a surprising twist, Rebecca married her girlfriend in defiance of her father’s prediction. Over time, Felts realized the contradictions and regrets that plagued him. During the pandemic, while writing his memoir, he couldn’t escape the memories of Phillip Jones and the pain associated with his lost love. Sharing his secret with Rebecca brought both sadness and relief, as she grew up understanding the struggles and challenges he faced as a gay man in a less accepting era.
Embracing Authenticity: A Journey Towards Love
Felts knew he couldn’t live with secrecy and regret any longer. In June 2020, he bravely shared his story with the world through a Facebook post, which garnered widespread attention. Messages from people all over the globe poured in, thanking him for his courage. Among the many admirers was Johnny Javier Hau, who, like Felts, had been wrestling with his own inner conflict over his sexuality. Growing up Catholic, Hau had always felt shame and guilt for being gay. However, during a chance encounter with an older man who became his mentor, Hau gained the strength to accept himself. His friendship with Felts, initiated through a Facebook message, eventually led to a life-changing meeting at a Japanese restaurant in Denver. This encounter solidified their bond and provided the impetus for Hau to embrace his attraction to older men. Their connection blossomed, leading them to move in together and embark on plans for marriage.
A Future Built on Love: Defying Obstacles
Although the couple faced obstacles, such as the cost of legal fees and the uncertainty of gay marriage rights due to the Supreme Court’s recent ruling, their love prevailed. On May 20th, Mr. Hau proposed to Mr. Felts in the comfort of their living room. Their decision to marry symbolizes their determination to defy societal norms and live authentically. As their love story spreads, it continues to inspire and touch the hearts of people worldwide.