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Hallmark Channel's Jonathan Bennett and Hubby Jaymes Vaughan on Love & Travel

Hallmark Hunk Jonathan Bennett and Hubby Jaymes Vaughan on Love & Travel

Jaymes Vaughan and Jonathan Bennett lounge in robes.
Wes and Alex Photography

The Out Traveler cover stars share about their relationship and founding the LGBTQ+ cruise company OUTbound.

Jonathan Bennett and Jaymes Vaughan chafed at the confinement of lockdown. Like many of us who love to travel, the couple dreamt of places they wanted to visit. They also decided that the next time they traveled they didn’t want to go alone.

Bennett is forever remembered for his performance as Aaron Samuels in Tina Fey’s 2004 cult classic, Mean Girls. But he’s also hosted Cake Wars and Cupcake Wars on Food Network, broke boundaries as the first gay lead in a Hallmark Channel holiday movie (2020’s The Christmas House), and was named to Out magazine’s Out100 list the same year. He has since starred in other Hallmark films and the comedic film Potato Dreams of America.

Vaughan is a television host who competed on The Amazing Race 21 with fellow Chippendale, James Davis. The duo came in second to The Fabulous Beekman Boys stars and partners Josh Kilmer-Purcell and Brent Ridge (the last gay couple to win until 2020’s Will Jardell and James Wallington). Vaughan also hosted Celebrity Page and American Music Awards’ Red Carpet Live, and recently filmed MTV's The Real Friends of WeHo with other LGBTQ+ stars.


Jonathan Bennett in pink suit and Jaymes Vaughan in blue suit on the cover of Out Traveler Winter 2023.Wes and Alex Photography


The gay couple admitted they felt a little claustrophobic and alone during the pandemic. Travel beckoned, but so did the need for community.

“We were sitting around the house and itching to go somewhere,” Bennett recalls. “We really wanted to see the world, but we wanted to do it with people that are part of the LGBTQ+ community. We went down this road and OUTbound was born.”

They launched their travel company before most countries reopened to visitors but found doing so wasn’t a barrier to generating future bookings, particularly among LGBTQ+ people looking for safe travel options.

“That’s why we created OUTbound along with our travel expert friend Eric Hodgson… to create a queer safe space for people to travel and see the world, and do these amazing international things.”

Jaymes Vaughan and Jonathan Bennett in swimsuits.Wes and Alex Photography


OUTbound (iamoutbound.com) creates custom-designed adventures for LGBTQ+ travelers. It takes over entire ships and resorts to create a sense of community, and partners with local (often LGBTQ+) tour operators to explore a destination’s queer culture, history, and hot spots.

Vaughan describes OUTbound as “community." He adds, "It's gay cruising that's not a circuit party. We are fun. We are a safe space. We are these dream destinations that you want to go to. We do it all together as a family. Queer safe spaces are very important to us," Vaughan explains. “It feels like our chosen family is doing this stuff with us, which is one of the most special things about being a queer person. People show up exactly for who they are. I can’t think of anything more special than that.”

They own the company, but it’s more than a business for these two. When you embark on an OUTbound cruise, you are booking time with Bennett and Vaughan themselves.

“Of course we’re going on the trips!” Bennett assures. “OUTbound isn’t just about the trips, it’s about the family onboard. It’s a safe floating Pride party that travels around the world, celebrating all the different colors of the LGBTQ+ rainbow.”


Jonathan Bennett and husband Jaymes Vaughan.Wes and Alex Photography


While the travel business is a new venture for the couple, Vaughan, in particular, had quite a bit of experience traveling after his time on The Amazing Race and as a co-host for Celebrity Page.

“I’ve traveled a ton with all of the shows that I’ve done,” Vaughan explains. “All of us together had this time and we were fortunate enough to create something that we were very passionate about. Now, we’re shooting the cover of Out Traveler and it’s mind-blowing. This was our little baby and now she’s taken LGBTQ+ people all over the world.”

Celebrity Page remains more than another job for Vaughan. After all, it’s where he met Bennett during an on-camera interview. And from the very beginning, travel has been an inspirational relationship goal for the couple.

“I haven’t traveled as much as Jaymes has,” Bennett acknowledges. “I really want to travel the world, but I want to do it with my husband… and that’s how OUTbound was born.”


Mean Girls' Jonathan Bennett and his husband Jaymes Vaughan of MTV's The Real Friends of WeHo.Wes and Alex Photography


The couple included travel in their wedding plans, choosing an intimate ceremony at the beachside Unico Riviera Maya Hotel in Mexico last March.

“It still feels unreal that we had that wedding,” Vaughan says. “We got to have all of our chosen family come to a place that was so special to us, where queer people are so welcomed. We felt so safe to express our love and bond permanently with the people that mean the most to us.”

Bennett muses, “To be a queer couple and get married publicly, we never felt uncomfortable once in the entire planning process or the wedding itself. It felt so awesome to be celebrated in such a safe space.”

As the hubbies approach their one-year anniversary, they’re gearing up for a new season of exciting cruises and destinations. The lineup for 2023 includes a river cruise through the wine country of southern France, a Christmas markets cruise on the Danube, Pride celebrations in Budapest and Amsterdam, and a blended cruise-and-safari adventure in Africa.


Jaymes Vaughan in blue suit and Jonathan Bennett in matching pink.Wes and Alex Photography


“These are once-in-a-lifetime experiences,” says Bennett. And the couple wants to share those experiences with other LGBTQ+ travelers. “We’re doing it as one big, super queer family.”

“Vienna is one of my [favorite] places in the entire world,” Vaughan adds. “For Budapest Pride, the ship actually stays there as your hotel and you get to go back and forth as you experience Pride and everything on board with us. The African cruise sold out right away. Selling something out is the most amazing feeling because it means our LGBTQ+ family sees us, supports us, and is onboard with us.”

The couple emphasize that their itineraries build in safety and comfort.

“These destinations feel very high-end,” Vaughan says. “We plan all the trips ahead of time and we craft what the experience is going to be to make it the perfect thing for our queer family that’s cruising with us.”

The couple says they are still overcome with emotion about how far they’ve come in their personal journeys as well.

“I remember standing at our wedding,” Vaughan recalls. “Little Jaymes had hoped that I would meet the love of my life and I would marry him in a forest. We got married in a jungle. I had the hope…but I didn’t think I would. It was really dark for me for a lot of my childhood.” His voice cracks with emotion. “I had given up and Jonathan showed up in my life and changed it for the better.”

“I never thought I’d actually publicly be out,” Bennett adds, “I never thought this was possible. It’s a long road to get here, but I’m so happy that I’m here. When you get to a point where you can just have the closet door thrown open, and just live your authentic self, that’s when you really shine.”

To go behind the scenes and watch more from Out Traveler's interview with Jaymes Vaughan and Jonathan Bennett, check out the video below.

Jonathan Bennett & Jaymes Vaughan Cover Out Traveler's 2023 Winter Issueyoutu.be


Photography: Wes & Alex - @wesandalex
Subjects: Jonathan Bennett & Jaymes Vaughan - @jonathandbennett @jaymesv @outbound_travel
Photographer’s Assistant: Chris Collins - @c2camera
Stylist: Aisha Rae - @aisharaestyle
Stylist’s Assistant: Nathan Rodriguez-Figueroa - @iamnathanfigueroa
Groomer: Johnny Hernandez - @johnny.hernandez.hair
Writer: Ricky Cornish - @rickycornish

Jonathan Bennett ruffles Jaymes Vaughan's hair.Wes and Alex Photography

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