Out Actor Jonathan Bennett Posts about Common LGBTQ+ Mental Health Challenge

by Kilian Melloy

EDGE Staff Reporter

Friday December 17, 2021

Posting about his new LGTBQ+-themed Hallmark Christmas movie, Jonathan Bennett discussed a mental health challenge faced by many sexual minorities.

Bennett has posted multiple times recently about his castmates and experiences making the upcoming film "The Christmas House 2: Deck Those Halls." In a Dec. 15 post, he took time to reflect on how his character, Brandon, is true to life when it comes to something Bennett opined is a common mental health issue for LGBTQ+ people.

The "Mean Girls" star zeroed in on one trait he personally identifies with: "the desire to have to be perfect."

Bennett continued to explain how LGBTQ+ people feel a need to overcompensate just because they are not heterosexual or cisgender.

"The truth is, there is a lot of internal pressure that many queer people experience to be perfect," Bennett posted. "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,'" Bennett said.

"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.'"

This sort of self-conscious monitoring of himself, Bennett wrote, stems from a perceived need to make up for being gay.

"The only way I felt I could compensate for all these things, was to be perfect and try to overachieve," Bennett posted. "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."

"The Christmas House 2" is the sequel to last year's "The Christmas House," in which Bennett and Brad Harder appeared as the son, and the son-in-law, of an older married couple whose annual holiday tradition is to decorate their house to an unusual degree. The film was the first on the Hallmark Channel to feature a same-sex couple in a central role.

As previously reported at EDGE, Bennett spoke out, prior to the first movie's premiere, on the significance of a same-sex couple being portrayed in a holiday film: "To see a movie like that, where you see yourself on screen is so important, and I think this Christmas, younger me is going to be a little bit less scared and feel a little more seen."

In his Instagram post, Bennett reiterated that notion, and expressed his gratitude to the Hallmark Channel for making both movies.

"I don't think you understand how much these stories matter," the actor wrote. "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."

Kilian Melloy serves as EDGE Media Network's Associate Arts Editor and Staff Contributor. His professional memberships include the National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association, the Boston Online Film Critics Association, The Gay and Lesbian Entertainment Critics Association, and the Boston Theater Critics Association's Elliot Norton Awards Committee.