Ken Fells | Wisconsin Gazette | 14363
Gay Activist congratulates Ken Fells who recently celebrated his 100th birthday. The oldest known living gay man in Milwaukee, he contacted SAGE Milwaukee, and they connected him to an LGBT community that didn’t existed for the vast majority of his life. At a July 28 SAGE ice cream social and garden party, Mr Fells recounted how he wasn’t aware of any gay life in Milwaukee when he was a young man. He always hoped to move to Chicago, where there was more freedom, but it never worked out. He remembers the house he grew up in on Milwaukee’s South Side – he even recalls the address. It’s in the vicinity of what is now the gay nightclub La Cage.
Fells does not feel safe being out in the long-term care facility where he resides due to the number of fundamentalist Christian residents. He has a couple of friends there, but the connections are nothing like those he feels with fellow SAGE members. He requires a walker to move about and his mind is slowing down. His memories are mostly dim and only recalled with effort. His speech is slow, soft and child-like.
Most of his memories are from childhood. He doesn’t remember much about his work life, which was in blue-collar jobs. Fells’ fondest recollection is of riding on the engine of a steam locomotive from West Bent to Milwaukee. Despite living in the closet and never making that move to Chicago that he dreamed of, Fells said he looks back on his century on the planet without regret. “I think I’ve had a pretty interesting life,” he said. “And when I go to parties and things like today, it makes me happy.”