Actor and TV host Jonathan Bennett is currently busy promoting his appearance on Hallmark’s holiday movie, The Christmas House 2: Deck Those Halls.
Bennett, who first found fame in the movie Mean Girls, plays gay character Brandon in The Christmas House 2. He’s married to Jake (played by Brad Harder), and they’re raising two young kids.
Related: Jonathan Bennett and Jaymes Vaughan just made history with this magazine cover
On Instagram, Bennett praised Hallmark for making the movie and its representation of a same-sex couple. He also took the opportunity to reflect on his career in Hollywood over the last 20 years, and the pressure so many gay men put themselves under to overachieve or appear perfect.
Many mental health experts believe this is because gay people receive messages when younger that they are “less than” or “wrong”, leading to overcompensating behavior.
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“Brandon and Jake talk about a lot of things,” Bennett said, “but as a gay man, the part of their story I identified with the most, was the desire to have to be perfect.
“I think a lot of LGBTQ+ people will see themselves in these characters. The truth is, there is a lot of internal pressure that many queer people experience to be perfect. The perfect parents, or perfect partner, or neighbor. To quote my character, ‘Because the second we’re not, the second, you can feel the looks.’
“That line really hit home for me, because being a gay actor in Hollywood for 20 years, has been beyond a mental challenge, it feels like I’ve been running a 10,000-mile marathon that’s completely uphill. Going into rooms and auditioning, is one of the most vulnerable moments you can have.
“As a leading man, instead of focusing on my work in the scene, the voice in my head becomes, ‘Do they know I’m gay? Will they still cast me? Don’t use your hands too much when you talk, stand straight, deepen your voice.’
“The only way I felt I could compensate for all these things, was to be perfect and try to overachieve.
“I can tell you it is the most exhausting existence that takes you to a very dark place. But, it is a reality so many of us queer people deal with.
“I want to applaud the people at @hallmarkchannel and creators of The Christmas House. I don’t think you understand how much these stories matter. It is an honor to get to be the vessel for this one. And to be an OUT and proud gay man that no longer walks into rooms scared he’s not good enough but walks in knowing he’s celebrated for being himself, and for Hallmark Channel to lead by example, and show the world, this is ALSO what a LEADING MAN looks like, leaves me speechless.”
He invited others to share their own stories if his words resonated with them, before reminding them: “You’re never too much, and you’re always enough.”
Related: Jonathan Bennett details the extreme homophobia that made him develop ulcers
One commentator said, “This was the exact conversation I just had with my therapist. I’ve always tried to be the perfect son or employee to prove my worth to others. This has been so damaging to my mental health, so it warms my heart to see that message shared on such a large platform. We need this representation so other queer youth can learn that they are enough.”
Another said they identified with “always trying to be the perfect son, worker, friend and even the perfect gay men to other gay men, because there’s a lot of pressures and insanely high standards in the GBTQ men community, the way you have to look, the way you have to behave, the way you have to talk, the way you have to dress.”
Besides playing a husband in The Christmas House, in real life, Bennett is engaged to Jaymes Vaughan (The Amazing Race, Celebrity Page). The couple met in 2016 and confirmed their engagement in November 2020.
The Christmas House 2: Deck Those Halls premieres on Saturday (Dec 18).
Unfortunately overachieving is not one of my vices.
There are different ways in which to be “perfect”. Some try to be perfect by appealing to what others may think (gym, hive-mind politics, consumerism, etc….) Other’s seek personal perfection – which I see as ideal (honesty, truth, logic).
Think through ideas for yourself – examine all the sides of an issue including the side with which you disagree. Don’t just parrot your parents, your loved ones, your political party. I often intentionally play the Devil’s Advocate because it’s important and necessary to understand WHY others think the way that they do; there is an underlying reason… not always just “bigots” and “racists”. Poverty, ignorance and powerlessness are the foundation driving most hate and fear.
Weird, did your trying to rehabilitate your other screename “openminded” not work, so now you’re coming on here to try to defend this screename and it’s regular defense of bigots?
Sure. Almost everyone strives for perfection, but no one has achieved it yet, and nobody ever will because we are all flawed in some way, and can never achieve perfection in this life. The best thing to do is to own, and admit your flaws, and do the best you can with what you have to work with, and trying to improve yourself. That includes educating yourself to rid yourself of ignorance, being both empathetic and sympathetic to/of others (easier for some to do, but not impossible), and maintaining your health. We can never achieve total perfection, but if we work at it, we can come close.
Just taking an opposing view is not thinking for yourself. It is often just being contrary. Sometimes the best thing one can do is not to understand why someone else is so messed up and defend them for their”reasons” but to stand up for what you think in right.
Oh Cam, I see you have missed me lately. Now go F yourself please.
@Cam As everyone knows, I am Ronbo AND I am Cam; we suffer multiple personality syndrome. At one point we also thought that we were a chicken. Yes, we were a big family (with all those personalities) and quite poor. Mom didn’t even tell us about the chicken, she said we needed the eggs.
@SFHarry True; but, without knowing why others feel how they do, we lack empathy and just become Republican light. Without empathy, we are less than human.
@Openminded Be nice to my personality Cam. He’s the Eric Trump of my clan.
I LOVE that you did that under this screename, because you’ve done it under your others as well. Thank you for exposing yourself as another troll.
And @Openminded, how nice of you to do exactly the same.
Now that you’ve torched these two screenames I can’t wait to see what new ones you come up with to continue to post your right wing, anti- LGBTQ B.S.
@Cam. “Rehabilitate” my screen name? We have different opinions; that is all. You aren’t superior; just much more arrogant.
And about 17 people here KNOW you are a liar; that’s the number of people you claim are commenting as someone else. Is this a persecution complex or is everyone who isn’t Cam to be called a “troll”?
Ignore my comments instead of lying with false accusations in a fury of name calling and insults.
I thought it was fisting so I guess I got that one way, way, way wrong.
Mean girls came out in 2004
so how much is the tea in China?
the voice in your head thing we ALL live with.
the rest is just being an actor
and you all get paid to look perfect
This is actually a well known issue, a book from years ago dealt with it “The Best Little Boy In The World”.
The idea of , if you’re perfect, then they can’t hate you if they discover you’re gay, etc.
I am lightly shivering that you mentioned this book. I’ve not even mentioned the title in years. I was talking with one of my best friends two nights ago. We were talking about how I used to read a lot when I was younger. He said, “I think the only book I’ve ever read was “THE BEST LITTLE BOY IN THE WORLD”.
Now I need to read it.
Happy holidays to you Cam
exactly right. and we learned how wrong this turned out to be …
Interesting you should mention this book. I’m guessing a lot of gay guys read it decades ago, when it first came out. I read it just last week, after I randomly came across a copy. So I feel compelled to issue a warning to anyone who decides to read it now. The book has not aged well. Many (actually most) of the attitudes and values of the author may have seemed more relatable and sympathetic at a time where being deeply closeted was the norm and everything was filtered through the demands of staying closeted, at all costs. So – I’m being generous here – maybe the book is a snapshot of its time for a certain type of gay gay, and that would be the ultra-privileged white, WASP, career-oriented professional. But it has to be said that The Best Little Boy in the World today is such a total asshole that he’s impossible to like, and increasingly hard to relate to the further you get into his narcissistic, narrow-minded and increasingly sexist and racist rant.
You beat me to it! That was my initial thought upon reading this.
I was thinking his statement of enlightenment was going to be groundbreaking, useful & less narrowly focused & beneficial to the whole community but sadly not. You can only say the same thing so many ways to the same group of people. ?
so how much is the tea in China?
How can you feel you are attempting to be perfect if you identify as a pervert or deviant (which are the meanings of the word “queer”)?
Never fails, the right wing troll will ALWAYS try to wreck a thread about a happy out of the closet LGBTQ person.
What a sad comment. You must have no friends.
Oh great, so I was ahead of the curve when I was closeted for 35 years and did not care about fashion or weightlifting?
So, that’s why I attract chasers and men who love bear bottoms.
Fun fact : many out gay men don’t care for fashion or weightlifting, nor about circuit parties, drugs, cone-looking, Lady Gaga, or a million other things “everyone” says we “should”.
My motto, even before I found one, has always been, “I am what I am, and what I am needs no excuses.”
Amen. When I was in college, all the gay boys on my floor ( because I decided I wanted a gay roomie so I moved to the gay floor and bunked with a guy I’d met through a friend ), were all twinks with skinny bods and though I wasn’t mordbily obese or anything, I was definitely wearing an XL in the shirt department and 38 inch waist. And the phrase ” I wish I looked like I did when I THOUGHT I was fat ” applies now. But if I’d had some bears around ,hell or anyone who didn’t look like them around,and if the gay culture in movies and media at that time wasn’t so centered on them. For instance, the only movie I remember coming out that year which had a gay man who wasn’t picture perfect was LOVE VALOUR COMPASSION.And the guy was Jason Alexander, who we knew was straight and was playing a caricature. Which was Not very inspiring and made me as a bear think we were all supposed to be funny and loud. Still, if I’d had a few role models who didn’t look like abercrombie boys or were slim and toned maybe I’d had a little pride in myself and saw that I was fine the way I was. And I don’t mean that there weren’t other guys my age that were gay and had similar bodies. I’m just saying we all saw that the ones on campus who got all the action and the attention and ruled the roost were ” those types “, and we were expected to be tragic and quiet. I’m sorry, I’m sure this isn’t making any sense.
i get what he’s saying.
that aside, they seem like the MOST boring couple around. zzzzzzz
So yeah, you kind of just made his point. We don’t have to be spectacular to be a success – boring is ok.
You seem jealous as hell. Stop hating because you don’t have a man or anyone for that matter who loves you.
When I was 12 years old I would get up at 5:00 A. M. to go on my paper route and would see my dad sitting at his desk doing paper work as he was an accountant. After being a Navy Musician, playing the flute, called a sissy instrument, I went into the computer business and worked hard. I met my lifetime partner of 57 years while I was in the Navy and never stopped doing my best. I still do website work in my over 55 community. This article may explain why I worked so hard and succeeded.
Congratulations on your success and commitment to your partner. Here’s wishing you many more years together, filled with love and laughter.
Who is this person?
Yeah, believe it or not, he is a thing. He’s been around for a while.
I was wondering that also. I have no clue but he is handsome. I’m gonna look him up.
Your question says more about you than him.
Gay people are not the only people trying hard to be “perfect.” Anyone who is a high achiever tries hard. For some this causes problems and for others it doesn’t. Complaining about your problems is just boring. He should be happy that he has managed to earn a living in Hollywood, of all places, for 20 years. Not a lot of people, gay or straight, have done that.
And Essie misses the point.
Self-denial is a common form, when parents or friends look down on gay people.
My parents put me into Arthur Murray Dance studio as a teen, to learn ballroom dancing since they saw dancing as a common way to meet girls.
A high school classmate, a girl my age, was also sent to that same dance studio, that still exists in Syracuse NY.
She and I became school celebrities at dances when we’d dance with the older generation to dance music before the dance changed to play rock music.
When she groped me and sought more, I deflected her attentions to my best friend in school. We stayed friends, though they’d set me up with blind dates all the time. My parents kept after me to give them grandchildren, but sent me to an all-men’s college, where I discretely enjoyed liaisons.
It bothers me that apparently a lot of gay men think perfection is being like a hard working hetero male. Who says perfection isn’t simply being your true and honest self, over achiever or not?
That’s kind of the point of what he’s talking about. It’s not something people do consciously.
I can’t think of any gay men I’ve EVER known over the decades who fit the description. Not one. This must be some sort of upper-middle-class “syndrome” that I wouldn’t encounter in my lowly social circles. Or maybe a lot of guys THINK of themselves as trying to be “perfect,” but they’re so bad at it I didn’t even notice!
…damn, thought he was going to talk about rimming. ….still a fair article.
I am a pastor’s son, and perfection was expected. In hindsight, I think I put more pressure on myself than my parents did, but still felt the need to set the example for the other kids in the church. Coming out was not an option, because it was admitting to something that was absolutely forbidden. I recently had a conversation with my parents about this…that being gay was the absolute worst thing that could possibly be. Yet I told them I think I turned out pretty damn well despite that. And they agreed with me.
It’s a cute movie. It’s completely Hallmark, but on the Hallmark level it’s one of the best.
Best Little Boy In The World syndrome.
The whole thing is so offensive on so many levels.
Dammit men, I’m perfect and if you don’t believe me ask my mother!
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