Jonathan Bennett, who became everyone’s favorite crush thanks to his break-out role in ‘Mean Girls,’ feared losing his legions of female fans when he came out.
Jonathan Bennett is proudly living his truth these days. He’s engaged to Jaymes Vaughan and the couple have teamed up with KAY Jewelers to design ‘Our Ring by Jaymes & Jonathan’, one of the first same-sex engagement / wedding ring offerings by a major retailer. But, for many years Jonathan lived in fear of coming out — and what it might do to his career as a Hollywood heartthrob.
“I was afraid that I would lose it all,” Jonathan, 39, told HollywoodLife EXCLUSIVELY while discussing his decision to come out in 2017. “I mean, for decades everyone tells you you’re going to lose all your teenage girl fans [if you come out] they’re all gonna hate you. And if you lose them, then no one will watch your movies, so no one will cast you. And that is the harsh truth of what you hear.”
Fortunately, that wasn’t the case for Jonathan. “To be honest quite the opposite happened,” he shared. “The girls that I have that are fans from Mean Girls just fell even more in love with me as a person, because they saw the real me. And when you see the real person, meaning their true authentic self, it’s hard not to love them.”
Not only did Jonathan’s fans become more loyal, sharing his truth actually led to more work, not less. “I got cast in the first gay storyline on Hallmark Channel, and started paving the way, and opening the doors for so many more people in those types of movies. You think you’re never going to work again, and actually they’re like, ‘oh, you are going to work, and you’re going to work more.'”
And, it’s not just Hollywood that Jonathan wants to make more inclusive. He and his fiancé Jaymes are determined to change the wedding industry for their LGBTQ+ community too.
“With the ring we’ve designed and being on the cover of The Knot we are trying to take away the ‘otherness’ of the LGBTQ+ community, and not only Christmas movies and Hallmark movies, but in wedding magazines and jewelers and engagement rings. We’re going after the major players, and taking away the ‘otherness’ of it.”
When Jaymes proposed to Jonathan last December he struggled to find the perfect ring — so he reached out to KAY Jewelers to create a custom design, with the hopes of eventually being able to offer it to everyone in the LGBTQ+ community. “That’s been my plan all along,” the 37-year-old T.V. host explained to HollywoodLife. “That’s why I first reached out to KAY when I was trying to find a ring to propose to Jonathan and I couldn’t find anything.”
“I knew, thanks to social media, that KAY is so incredibly inclusive and celebratory of our community, because I’ve seen them posting for years about stuff. And I decided that’s who I want to partner with in creating something that would exist beyond just for Jonathan and I, but that would exist for our community. And from the jump, I feel like I’ve had their support,” he raved.
The beautiful engagement and wedding band that Jaymes designed for his love Jonathan is the inspiration behind their collaboration with KAY. The brushed 14K white gold band has 1/2 carat of round cut diamonds adorning the profile on one side of the ring.
“This ring is your engagement ring and the diamonds face out. And then it flips at your wedding ceremony and then the wedding band faces out and the diamonds face you,” Jonathan explained. “As we’re planning our own path to our wedding we just wanted to do what we can to open doors up in the industry. Our whole goal in this is to change the industry and make it more inclusive.”
Now that Jonathan and Jaymes are engaged, they say Pride Month hits a little different. “It means that I live my life with my fiancé, as loudly and proudly as I can, to give hope and a representation of love for a younger versions of me,” said Jonathan.
Jaymes echoed the sentiment. “As you get older you realize more and more how important pride is because it’s about that visibility,” he shared. “It’s about giving hope to those who aren’t out yet, those who haven’t found themselves yet, those who are maybe out, but don’t have the hope.”
“It really is about hope, about going out there and living your life as loudly proudly, and doing it with pride. Pride is a celebration right, so to celebrate who we are and that is so important,” he added.
As HollywoodLife previously reported, in addition to planning their wedding the busy couple is also running their LGBTQ+ travel company, OUTbound Travel.
“Our Ring by Jaymes & Jonathan” is available now, exclusively on KAY.com.