Jesse Tyler Ferguson met his husband at the gym — Equinox in West Hollywood — during the early days of “Modern Family.” “We were both in the locker room, fully clothed,” Ferguson clarifies. “I was leaving.” Justin Mikita, then a law student, had just seen the pilot for the ABC sitcom and stopped to chat with Ferguson about his groundbreaking character Mitch, a gay man in a monogamous relationship on network TV.
“I was taken by how handsome he was and how sweet,” Ferguson says. “I started asking questions about him, and I think he was sort of thrown off by that and ran away from me.”
They stayed in touch. “We started messaging on Twitter, and he was like, ‘Can I take you to dinner sometime?’” Mikita says.
“I was like, ‘Full disclosure: I’m in a relationship, but I’d love to get a drink with you as a friend.’ And he said, ‘I have enough friends,’ which I loved.” Ten months later, they ran into each other at the gym. By then, Mikita was single.
In late 2010 they started dating, as their lives and careers became intertwined. Mikita, who worked for the American Foundation for Equal Rights, enlisted Ferguson’s help to lobby for gay marriage. Together, in 2012, they launched the nonprofit Tie the Knot, which sold bow ties — and has expanded to cuff links and invitations — raising more than $1 million for LGBTQ causes.
After marriage equality passed, they were able to plan their own wedding in New York in 2013. Ferguson recalls the personal touches that were part of the ceremony: “Justin and I both walked down the aisle — basically two separate aisles — at the same time, being ushered by both our parents, and then met at the altar together, where Tony Kushner was standing to marry us, which was insane for me because he’s such an idol of mine.” Ferguson had reached out to Kushner on a lark, after meeting the “Angels in America” playwright at a Thanksgiving dinner party when Ferguson was a 21-year-old actor.
In time, Mikita found his own place in the arts, as a theater producer (“Torch Song,” “Oklahoma”). Ferguson was recently supposed to be on Broadway, in the revival of “Take Me Out,” which has been postponed due to the coronavirus. Instead, the couple spent the spring in their Los Angeles home, awaiting the birth of their first child. “We’re just really excited to meet this person and experience what fatherhood is like,” Mikita says. “We both have amazing fathers who we look up to very much, but it’s different when it’s you.”