Now that marriage equality has become a reality for gay and lesbian couples in Washington, D.C. the addition of Mike & Jon, two D.C. residents and our newest couple to participate in our popular Coupled Up series is really special.
Washington D.C. boasts one of the largest black gay communities in the U.S. next to Atlanta, yet stories reflecting the lives of black same gender loving people in the district or political activism on behalf of this minority group is scarce.
Mike & Jon made headlines earlier this month when they walked out of the notoriously homophobic Greater Mt. Calvary Church in DC after being subjected to an anti-gay sermon condemning marriage equality.
On loldarian.com we celebrate this couple’s courage to live authentically and to love each other fiercely. This is Mike & Jon’s Coupled Up.
Mike & Jon on how they met:
Mike: I knew of Jon for about year or so prior to meeting him since he was on my yahoo messenger list and we were both members of a yahoo group called Brothaz United (BU); I was more of an active member, where as Jon more or less just read the e-mails. Jon and I both attended a BU bowling event, and I initially thought he was attractive but extremely quiet so I didn’t pursue him.
Jon: I got a new job and I was working with one of the moderators of the group; he invited me to several functions but I kept blowing him off, I eventually went to a bowling party they had and I saw Mike; we said hello and that was about it. A few weeks later I saw Mike at a bar in DC and we talked a little bit, exchanged numbers and would text each other once in a while. We eventually hung out and hit it off. We’ve been in a relationship almost 2 years.
Mike & Jon on whether or not they imagined this relationship would be long term:
Mike: When I met Jon he was so quiet, and by his mannerisms I assumed he was the type of gay man that was hyper masculine and would think I was too effeminate for him. But after our first date I knew he was the one for me. We talked all night and we had so many things in common like our military background, family life, tattoos, and future goals. That very night I knew I had found my soul mate.
Jon: Honestly I thought Mike would come over to my place we'd talk a little bit, have sex and that would be pretty much it; a lot of times that's what happens with gay men. I was ready for a relationship, but I had given up on it ever happening. Once he came over and we started talking it felt like I had known him my entire life. I knew that night Mike was the one for me and I wanted him to be my life partner/husband.
Mike & Jon on their courtship: Proceeding with caution vs jumping in:
Mike: They say that gay relationships move at the speed of lightening and fall apart even quicker. So in the beginning I knew that Jon was going to be in my life for the long haul, but I was unsure if he felt the same way. So in the beginning I just took it day by day, and after two months we moved in together. I know some people may say that we moved too fast, but in my heart I just knew that he was the one for me. I’ve been in relationships before but I never had the feelings that I have for Jon. It’s hard to put it in to words. We just really clicked on so many different levels.
Jon: I knew the first night Mike was the one for me, and I think he felt the same way. We proceeded with caution because neither one of us wanted to put ourselves out there and end up being hurt. After about the second month we both knew the relationship was serious. I was always at Mikes place and I eventfully moved in with him, that was a big step because I gave up my place and independence for the man I love; but I haven't regretted it at all.
Mike & Jon on the reaction of family & friends when coming out individually & as a couple:
Mike: Jon first met my relatives at a family cook out, I know it was probably overwhelming for him but he had a good time and my family loved him. Some of my friends were really supportive and happy that I had met someone, especially since a lot of gay relationships do not last past the first week. Others were kind of pessimistic and tried to put their own negative issues onto me. But as you can see I did not let those friends influence my relationship.
Jon: Some friends were genuinely happy that I had found someone who I loved and wanted to be with, and some friends were jealous because we didn't hang out or talk as much as we used to. My family embraced Mike as their son in-law as soon as they met him. They have only met one other person I was in a relationship with, so for me to bring Mike home to meet them
they knew the relationship was serious.
Mike & Jon on the myth that committed black gay couples are non-existent & success depends on dating another race:
Unfortunately, as black men a lot of us have grown up in broken homes and have not been able to witness a strong healthy relationship (gay/straight). So in turn we grow up believing that relationships don’t last, so we don’t put forth the effort to maintain one.
Luckily, Jon and I were both reared in families where we were able to see how a healthy relationship works. We both understand that there are going to be good time and bad times; and with that mind set if we have an argument we focus on the issue, we don’t hit below the belt or resort to name calling. And in any relationship you must have trust and respect for each other. We would never do anything to cause hurt and harm to each other.
Jon: I think in gay black relationships a lot of times couples are too quick to throw in the towel and give up instead of working things out; where as a gay white couple will try and work things out, even if that means going to counseling. Me and Mike made a vow in the beginning of our relationship to be committed to stay together, and to work out any and every issue together.
Mike & Jon on the obstacles of maintaining a healthy relationship as SGL men of color:
Mike: A major obstacle that I’ve noticed is that many gay men have too many people involved in their relationship. A lot of men tend to tell their friends and the world if they’re having problems in their relationship versus talking out the problems with their partner. And some men fail to realize that everyone that you call your friend is not really your “friend” and may not have your best interest at heart.
Jon: Not being willing to compromise: With me and Mike we are both willing to compromise on any and everything; sometimes you have to know when to back down and to pick and choose your battles. I think sometimes we as black men are confrontational and have an attitude.
Communication: You should be able to talk to your partner about anything.
Support from friends and family: I think it's best to surround yourself with positive people who respect and nurture your relationship, not people who are jealous and want to see you single and bitter like they are; it's also best not to tell people anything personal that's going on in your relationship. Trying to mimic heterosexual relationships: A lot of times gay men think because one person is a top (the man) they should do certain things and if someone is a bottom (the woman) they should do certain things, not realizing that you are both men and regardless of what you do in the bedroom you're still a man.
Mike & Jon on marriage & the importance of legal recognition:
Mike: Jon proposed to me last year!!! Once the law passes through Congress we plan to get married in DC.
Jon: Yes, we plan on getting married here in DC as soon as it passes through the congressional review. It's very important to have legal recognition, we want the same rights as heterosexual couples.
Jon on the proposal:
Jon: It was my idea to get married; I proposed to Mike last November. I told Mike I wanted to show him something down at the Jefferson Memorial (we went walking down near the Jefferson Memorial on our first date). We got down to The Memorial and he kept "asking what were we doing down here"? I told him to close his eyes and when he did I got on my knee and asked
him to be my husband.
Mike & Jon on starting a family:
Mike: We are currently going through the adoption process. I’m so excited about this step in our lives, because I never thought that I would be a parent.
Jon: We just finished going through adoption classes and are now in the process of having our home study done to make sure our home is ready for a child. We want a little boy between 4 and 10 years old. If siblings are available we would like siblings as well or a little girl. I'm excited because I never thought I'd ever be a parent.
Jon on keeping the flame burning in their relationship:
We have a date night once a week, we take mini trips often, we work as a team with everything, we are both equally yoked, we're open and honest about everything, and we remember at the end of the day we both love each other and any problem/situation can be worked out.
Many thanks to Mike & Jon for sharing their love with us.