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They tied the knot 10 years after interracial marriage became legal. Now they’re viral sensations for their love story

The couple initially started posting on the platform as a way to connect with family during the COVID-19 pandemic. Now, their videos have blossomed into one of the sweetest corners of TikTok.
Interracial couple Mike and Jeralyn Wirtz married 46 years
Mike and?Jeralyn Wirtz in the early years of their decades long relationship.TODAY Illustration / Courtesy Mike and Jeralyn Wirtz

On TikTok, where trends and sensations constantly come and go, Mike and Jeralyn Wirtz’s love story easily captivates viewers with every scroll and tap.

The couple began to share photos and videos of their life on TikTok to connect with their children and grandchildren during the pandemic. Now, users head to their page to watch their love story play out across various posts and videos, featuring old glossy printed photographs of their early days as a couple in the 70s to their lives throughout the decades as they welcomed children and took on new adventures.?

All the while, the Wirtzes' photos play over the nostalgic vocal harmonies of classics like Otis Redding and Mary Wells. The couple has carved out a small but impactful corner of TikTok, inviting viewers to share their love and learn what it means to foster a healthy long-term relationship.

The Wirtzes are also active on the platform in such a way that their followers feel comfortable asking them all sorts of questions and comments, including:

“Was (it) legal when y’all got married?”

That question unleashed more than 900 other responses.

Even in 2024, many of their followers on TikTok are interested in how their different races influenced their first meeting and their dynamic all these years later.?

Speaking to TODAY.com, the couple recalls what they noticed about each other the first time they caught glimpses of each other while gathered around a pool in their apartment complex.

“I had seen Jeri, and I knew that she was a girl that I could be interested in,” Mike Wirtz recalls.

“He was pretty attractive and very mature,” Jeralyn Wirtz adds before agreeing that race didn’t come to mind as a concern as they checked each other out.?

Interracial couple Mike and Jeralyn Wirtz married 46 years
Mike and Jeri Wirtz in an undated photo.Courtesy Mike and Jeralyn Wirtz

It was 1976 in California, thousands of miles away from Virginia, where in the late 1950s, Richard and Mildred Loving were criminally charged for violating a state ban on interracial marriage.?By 1968 — when the Wirtzes were in high school — the Supreme Court struck down state laws across the country banning marriage between individuals of different races in the famous Loving v. Virginia decision.

California has allowed interracial marriage since 1948.

Mike and Jeralyn Wirtz recall that by the time they met in 1976, they both had made meaningful friendships with people of other races.

“Maybe I was naive, but I didn’t think anything of that,” Mike Wirtz says. “I thought, ‘I like this girl, and she’s very attractive and I’m interested in her,’ and so we just started dating. Obviously, I realized it was an interracial type of situation. I didn’t feel overwhelmed by it, though, because I think one thing that helped was eventually when she met my parents, they welcomed her with open arms, and her family was the same way with me.”

Interracial couple Mike and Jeralyn Wirtz married 46 years
Their wedding day.Courtesy Mike and Jeralyn Wirtz

“We knew that prejudice was out there and people would probably be looking at us but we didn’t look for that,” Jeralyn Wirtz adds. “We didn’t, you know, engage in it.”

After all, there were more exciting things to focus on, they said.

Interracial couple Mike and Jeralyn Wirtz married 46 years
Mike and Jeralyn Wirtz share a moment on their wedding day.Courtesy Mike and Jeralyn Wirtz

Building a life

One year after meeting, Mike and Jeralyn Wirtz tied the knot in 1977. Soon after, they welcomed two children, Nicole and Ryan.

Interracial couple Mike and Jeralyn Wirtz married 46 years
The Wirtzes' two kids, Nicole and Ryan, are now adults.Courtesy Mike and Jeralyn Wirtz

The Wirtzes agree that they have more than lived up to their wedding vows. They supported and cherished each other throughout the years as they pursued careers and both dealt with illnesses. In June 2017, Jeryln Wirtz was diagnosed with breast cancer. A few years later, in August 2020, Mike Wirtz was diagnosed with prostate cancer.

Interracial couple Mike and Jeralyn Wirtz married 46 years
Mike and Jeri Wirtz.Courtesy Mike and Jeralyn Wirtz

“I give her all the credit in the world because I don’t know if it was me if I would be as determined as she is to just keep pressing forward,” Mike Wirtz says of his wife. “She goes through a lot. Anybody who’s gone through a serious battle with cancer knows what she’s gone through. And it’s it’s not easy.”

Jeralyn Wirtz has posted about her stage four breast cancer journey on social media too, most recently sharing on her Instagram page in January that she's "fought through chemo and radiation and I refuse to give up."

These days, the Wirtzes say their lives are all about enjoying retirement, their three grandchildren — whom they describe as their pride and joy — and, of course, whatever their newfound TikTok fandom throws their way.

“I’m not like Jeri. I don’t embrace it as much,” says Wirtz, a self-described introvert. “We’re doing something that we enjoy and we’re having fun at it. And I would have never in a million years guessed that other people would be interested and watching these videos.”

“I like it. I love it. I think it’s fun,” says Jeralyn Wirtz. “I get to tease my younger friends that are working on becoming influencers and don’t have a lot of followers. I’m like ‘I’m 72 years old and I’m a ‘YouTuber’ or an ‘influencer.’ It’s fun and funny for us.”

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