We didn’t discuss homosexuality in my house growing up.  In fact, the first time I even heard the term was because of Jodie Dallas, a gay character played by Billy Crystal on the TV show “Soap.”  And although he seemed normal enough, he liked intercourse with men rather than women – and, well, that was kind of gross. So yeah, I understood why we didn’t talk about homosexuality in our house. Besides, there weren’t any gay people in our neighborhood.

When I joined the Air Force at 18, I had a fear of being in the shower with a gay man during basic training. After all, everyone knew that gay people couldn’t control themselves and had to have sex whenever other nude people of the same sex were present. Let’s just say I never dropped the soap. As it turned out, my fears were for naught – as I later learned that there were no gay people in the military.

Years later, I finally encountered a gay man. He was a friend, actually. A really nice guy. Good looking. Great dresser. And I had no idea he was gay. But one night, after we’d hit a few (straight) clubs,  we were at his apartment drinking beer when he told me that he was extremely attracted to me and really wanted to have sex. He then began to cry because he knew that I was straight and that there was no way I was coming over to his side. And there wasn’t. In fact, I was so freaked out by the whole scene that I left his apartment and never talked to him again. And despite my ignorance for another person’s feelings, I learned something valuable that night – that gay people weren’t monsters.

And so things began to change for me after that experience, as acceptance started to replace fear.

Today, my wife and I joke that we have more gay friends than straight. Our daughters have classmates raised by gay couples. To us, gay people are no different than we are other than they fall in love with people of the same sex. They’re subject to the same fallibilities and emotions as every other human on the planet. Things like cancer and alcoholism, fear and love. Universals like these don’t discriminate because of sexual orientation.

Which brings me to a new campaign supporting the legalization of gay marriage, Let Love Reign.

Last year my friend Crystal Dempsey introduced me to Catalina Kulczar-Marin, a talented photographer gifted in capturing the emotion of her subjects that live just below the surface.  It turned out that Catalina was fed up with the inequities of the law concerning gay marriage, and facilitated a photoshoot featuring gay couples in various forms of normal, loving interaction. She asked if I’d be willing to help create a campaign supporting the legalization of gay marriage. I immediately agreed. After many months, and the help of many people, today the campaign officially kicked off with the launch of LetLoveReign.org.

I don’t know if gay marriage will ever be legalized in America. But I do know from personal experience that enlightenment goes a long way in overcoming fear. I encourage you to visit LetLoveReign.org to learn more about the campaign, to take action for the legalization of gay marriage and for a better understanding of what it must be like to be completely in love with another person, but forbidden to marry them.

Love is love. It doesn’t discriminate.



Jim Mitchem

How I Used an Onion to Break into Advertising

Jim Mitchem

Writer. Father to daughters. Husband. Ad man. Raised by wolves. @jmitchem on twitter. First novel, Minor King, out now.