Episode 23: With Jonny B Mitchell (On Searching, Writing and Creativity, Self-Acceptance and Equality)

Meet Jonny. A fantasy writer, a cat lover, a Gay Black Jewish man, a kind soul.

Jonny has worked many jobs. In 2007, we met at an office job in San Francisco. I was a temp. Jonny was permanent, though it turned out he was temporary, in that he now lives in Southern California. Jonny misses the people at that job.


Complexity of Identity

Jonny has gone through many stages of identity formation. He now loves who he is, and has earned that love through so many stages of his early life.

Growing Up: Newport News, Virginia

Jonny grew up in the 1990s and early 2000s.

Two Different Coming Outs

My friends and extended family knew who I was, but my immediate family, mom and dad did not.

Two High Schools

After a difficult 9th grade experience, being bullied, Jonny’s family moved. He had to start all over again in the new school.

Week-Long Retreat for 10th/11th Graders: Gradual Acceptance

In 11th grade, Jonny attended a powerful week-long retreat in the mountains of Virginia. Everyone was allowed to be who they were. During final projects, the whole group was broken up into small groups for a project. Jonny raised his hand and asked to start a “Gay and Lesbian” subgroup. He was moved when four others raised their hands to join him.

As a senior, Jonny became accepted and didn’t fully realize it until graduation day. As he walked across the stage, he was given big applause by the student body.


After High School: Jonny’s Journey

Jonny was on the move after high school, working various jobs and living all over the country. Newport News to Richmond, VA to Oakland, CA to Texas to Baltimore to nearly joining the military to Miami then stopping and settling in the Bay Area. All of this between ages 18 and 22. Today, he’s in Southern California.

Both sides of his family is full of military. Very strict, religious and all about hierarchy growing up.

Jonny lived in Miami. In a three-bedroom townhouse. Jonny lived with two escorts, while he worked in a warehouse. Jonny drove all over South Florida.


Family Complications

Jonny had been through a sexual assault during that time, Jonny was on the edge of homelessness at that time. Jonny was working through his mother’s inability to deal with Jonny coming out. She wouldn’t talk to him for several years. Her religion told her it was a sinful lifestyle. Her church was the center of everything for her. Jonny’s dad was raised Jewish, but never practiced it with Jonny and his family. Parents met in the military — and they lived in Germany when Jonny was very young.

Jonah and Jonny met in 2007 working in San Francisco.


The Collection: 1st Chronicle — Jonny B. Mitchell

“Noah’s Arc meets Ender’s Game meets Final Fantasy”

Noah’s Arc: the gay, black version of Sex and the City

Jonny wrote the beginning of the novel during his long commute back-and-forth from Vallejo to work in San Francisco.

Self-publishing via Amazon. Kindle-Direct-Publishing (KDP).

After years of feeling stuck, Jonny got back into the writing through a writing class at Sacramento City College.


Contracting HIV and Dealing

When Jonny learned he was HIV+, the doctor delivered the news by saying he would not live past age 25. It threw Jonny into a deep denial, he knew he needed to get out of Virginia. Jonny started medication when he arrived in California — -because of the environment of health support around being HIV positive.


Race, Minimum Wage and Needed Conversations

Reflecting on power structures: Those who are white, male and heterosexual have a responsibility to discuss and take action around privilege and power structures with other whites in order to not be complicit in perpetuating the inequality.

Representation in culture as a starting point for conversations.

Economic equality: Fight for $15 as unions have dwindled and wage growth has stagnated for decades.


Open Racism in the Oval Office

Growing up in southern Virginia, Jonny experienced racism and knew about the racism of rural Virginia. We discuss how Trump came to power and how huge portions of the U.S. population became openly racist, xenophobic, etc. in the last four years.

Trust in Government: How De We Get it Back?

(warning: Jonah goes into Preacher Mode for a few minutes)

30,573 lies over Four Years

Democrats and Joe Manchin

With only 50 Democratic sentators, we are stuck with convincing Joe Manchin (WV) and Krysten Sinema (AZ) to go along with legislation. When will our government finally represent our actual population (330 million Americans)? We have 4 senators from the Dakotas and 2 senators from California.

Mis-Representative Democracy (via Ian Millhiser at Vox)


Writing a Scene About Politics

Jonny wrote a scene in his novel that was about an explosive fight among friends that started at a dinner party.

Listening and Meditation

Future Fatherhood

Uncle Jon — Jonny helped his best friend get pregnant by donating sperm and he’s now an Uncle to an eleven year-old girl. He hopes to have his own child one day soon.



Jonny has six cats, loves WandaVision, and prefers laundry to dishes.

Check out Jonny’s site:

Thanks for Listening.

Stay Safe,


Jonah Hall makes Jonah Asks, a podcast about being human. Conversation-interviews with friends and friends of friends about how to live on Earth in 2020.