You know you spotted them during your Joining Hearts Weekend of parties, cocktails and muscled men. That ginger hottie and his companion with the sultry look? Meet Seth Fornea and Jared Bradford LeBlanc who, along with their chiseled abs and good looks, offer a serious and fun side, too.
Fornea (left) is no stranger to Atlanta. He appeared dressed only in football pants and hanging from a metal ring for a “Rough Gods” book signing in February. But he returned last month with LeBlanc (right), boyfriends who met after performances in New Orleans for Mardi Gras earlier this year. And when they hit the road for a weekend together, this couple makes the most of it – hitting TakeOver, Joining Hearts, Joe Gauthreaux’s after party and the GA Boys tea dance.
So we caught up with the couple to learn more and ask about the impression they made in Atlanta, their serious side, fitness routines and how they party like rockstars all weekend and still make it to work on Monday.
Great bodies and great minds?
You both turned heads with your light-on-clothing outfits throughout Joining Hearts Weekend. But your Facebook pages show that beyond the looks and the abs that you’re both pretty serious guys with professional sides. How do you balance the two? Do the gays take you seriously or are they just mesmerized by the good looks, smiles and abs?
Jared: Wait. Are you telling me that Joining Hearts weekend wasn’t professional?! We wore glasses and fashionable berets! Haha. Although Joining Hearts was all for fun, I should probably mention that many of our “light-on-clothing” outings are also professional in nature. But even when I’m working in a button up and slacks, I like to have fun! It doesn’t mean that every single moment is play, but I’m always annoyed when people take themselves too seriously. Personally, I tend to believe that we only get one life to live, and that life should be both meaningful and enjoyable!
Seth: That’s so true babe! It’s pretty easy to find a balance. During the week, I work as an analytical chemist for the USDA. I am very anal—about chemistry that is! I enjoy my work with the USDA and I feel like the research we do makes a huge difference in the library of scientific knowledge of food safety and food quality. I live a very regimented work week, waking, working, exercising, and sleeping on a very predictable clock. However, I have a very extroverted and creative side that I don’t get to express in the laboratory. By working as a dancers and entertainers on the weekends it allows the theatrical side of us to be expressed.
Jared: I like to think that we’re evolving as a society, thanks to social media, where we get to recognize each other as real people and don’t have to make such strong lines between all the parts of our lives. To quote Regina Spektor, “People are just people; they shouldn’t make you nervous,” and neither should the things that people do. There’s so much that goes on behind the scenes, and it seems like humans are very content to pretend and separate into boxes different parts of their lives. Personally, I don’t see the point. Be yourself! Enjoy your life, and let other people do the same.
As for your other question, Seth is way too mesmerized by his own good looks to even notice other people staring at him. I know Seth can’t go 10 minutes without looking in a mirror. I usually last about 15.
Seth: Ha! Well, I would not say mesmerized, but I think it’s important to be conscious of our bodies and our appearance. Our body is the only house we will inhabit for our entire life so why not great care of it. Great bodies and great minds can and do come in the same package!
Jared: Actually, I was a very nerdy kid growing up and even into my first year of college. I think I’m still that kid deep down most times, just wrapped in a different package now. Most guys that have taken the time to talk to me have told me they were surprised by my ability to speak and think critically or my interest in math, science, philosophy, politics, foreign languages, and even classical music. There’s a great book by Chuck Klosterman called, “Sex, Drugs, and Cocoa Puffs” in which he draws the conclusion that reality TV has made us view each other “monochromatically,” instead of colorful and diverse. Each person has to be defined by a couple words—the dumb jock, the pretty girl, the awkward nerd, the funny one and that’s how we tend to try to identify and perceive each other. I’m the exact opposite. I’ve always been very driven to be as well-rounded as possible, and never try to stereotype a person based on what they are doing at the time I meet them. So maybe, very probably, most of the boys make their superficial judgments for good or ill, but those that take the time to talk to us get mesmerized by much more than a smile.
‘Rough Gods’ to music and more
For Seth, you’ve hit Atlanta before for “Rough Gods.” How was that experience and how did you get hooked into that? And Jared, you are a part time science educator? Tell us more.
Seth: In September of 2011, I was introduced to Michael Alago, the photographer of “Rough Gods.” We shot together several times in New York City and became friends. Chris Hagan and Adam Stewart, life partners and co-owners of Inherent Designs Laboratory, contacted Michael about doing an installation show of his photographs in Atlanta in February 2012. The three of them planned the event and decided they wanted to include live models in the art installation. They invited me to be a part of the show by hanging me from a large metal ring in front of some photographs Michael had taken of me. Who wouldn’t like hanging in a metal ring while pics of their bare derrière were on display behind them?! The experience was amazing.
Jared: I was a full-time educator but switched to part-time for multiple reasons about a year ago. One of the benefits has been more flexibility in my schedule, which has allowed me to travel—a passion for both Seth and me. Education is definitely a passion of mine as well though. If it were something I could do a little more freely, that would be wonderful. I once heard a brilliant talk from a symphony conductor speaking about his initiatives to bring classical music to young people. He said, “We should live to awaken possibility in others.” To me, studying science, like making music, can awaken the sense of wonder and possibility within a person. I think that’s why I can get equally excited about Newton’s laws or electromagnetism as I can about other things like the gym or making music.
A love for dance, colorful characters
Break down your “About” descriptions on Facebook. For Seth, it’s “Dancer-Activist-Personality-Green Thumb-Louisiana Made-Free Spirit” and for Jared it’s “Actor, Singer, Song-writer, Model, Dancer, Personality, Educator, and Armchair philosopher from Cajun Country, Louisiana.”
Seth: For me, the “about” description was a way to sum up myself in several key words. I love to dance and I typically do it at many of the circuit parties across the country. I enjoyed getting costumed, styled, and put on stage to entertain the crowd and hype the energy of a party. So that’s the “dancer” part. For “activist and personality,” I wanted to convey that I both cared about the equality movement and would openly discuss and promote it. I do that by blogging, maintaining an active Facebook page, and by becoming a personality at parties and festivals across the country that fundraise and promote the equality movement. Gardening is my favorite hobby, thus I had to include “green thumb.” Everything I touch usually grows. You can take that however you want. I was born and raised in Louisiana. I am very proud of my rural roots, my love for Louisiana traditions, cuisine, and my family, so I am definitely “Louisiana-made.” “Free Spirit” comes from my view of a limitless life experience where we each can design our life to be what we want. I don’t believe in the constraints of social norms or religious doctrines. I choose to embrace the freedom of thought and value each individual’s path to fulfillment.
Jared: Some of those are aspirations. Some are already happening. I think that description sums up what I was saying earlier about not being monochromatic. We are—all of us—colorful people! To give you a little background, I’ve always loved theater, the stage, and singing, ever since I was young. I’ve done many small theater productions and music performances. I was recently cast in an independent TV drama dealing with HIV and other gay issues called “La Fleur de Mai,” which has been a blast to work on and experience what goes on behind the scenes with a low-budget production and the amount of dedication and sacrifice that some people have to put into their art to make it all come together. I know my way around the gymnasium as well as I know my way around a syllogism, so that’s where the armchair philosopher part comes in. And although I might not have a Louisiana accent, I totally own my Louisiana roots and Cajun French heritage! It was the major impetus behind why I wanted to do my study abroad in Paris and learn to speak French.
Making a long-distance relationship work
A profile in Pink says you guys met in February in New Orleans and have been a long-distance couple ever since. Can you recap how you met and how you make things work with Jared in Florida and Seth in North Carolina?
Jared: No problem. We were both serving up the party in New Orleans for Mardi Gras at different venues, and we, quite poetically, met halfway between the two on the street. I was alone and ventured a friendly hello as we passed on the street and things only blossomed from there.
Seth: I am so glad you said hello! Progressing from a simple hello to captivating moments of dialogue, we found ourselves running around the French quarter that night. What was a simple hello turned into an entire Mardi Gras weekend of flirtatious behavior, sweet kisses, parades, and yummy details we simply must keep secret!
Jared: Seth has an incredible ability to make me laugh or smile, disarm me, and make me feel at home. One of the early things I noticed about him was his ability to be open and honest about his feelings, and communicate very clearly. Beyond all the things we have in common and being physically attracted to each other, we communicate very well and often with each other. Probably better than many people communicate even living in the same house, and I think that’s what really makes us work. He’s not just my boyfriend; he’s my best friend. Even before I knew if we were going to be a couple or not, I already knew he was going to be in my life for a very long time.
Seth: I had always fantasized about having a boyfriend from Louisiana and Jared literally fell into my lap. So far, being long distance has not been a problem. I love having a place to visit in South Florida, especially since it’s Jared’s place! We travel about three weekends a month, mostly to other cities, and that’s how we spend time together. When we are not together, we text a lot (sometimes at exactly the same time); we talk on the phone at night; and almost every Thursday, we meet for a Skype dinner date!
Secrets to a ripped physique
You guys are ripped. What’s your secret? What’s a typical week like in your fitness and nutritional routine?
Jared: My you are so complimentary. Keep going! Haha. OK listen up. Here’s the secret. Eat whatever you want, especially fried foods and cheese, whole milk, three cookies right before bed, and fast food. And, cue the theme song to “Mean Girls.” Okay, okay, that’s exactly what not to do.
Seth: LMAO! That’s great advice for our competition! I have actually been on the phone with Jared while he does crunches while he drives! Just kidding, the non-secret for us is in diet and high quality workouts.
Jared: Yeah, there really isn’t a secret (despite what infomercials would like you to believe). My educator is about to come out, but in the gym and kitchen, like in most facets of life, knowledge is power. I’ve been lucky to have some great workout partners that not only made going to the gym more fun but also taught be many things that helped me on my way. The rest is hard work, dedication, and enjoying what you are doing. Of course, enjoyment comes easily once you see the benefits of feeling healthier, stronger, and more confident. And, if you have a gym partner to accomplish your goals with, it’s even better! We do watch what we eat very carefully on most days—lots of complex carbs and lean meats. I love snacking on dried fruits and nuts or a protein shake. I prepare most of my food and even take food with me on flights or to work. If you prepare it yourself, you can control portions, frequency of eating, and what exactly is in your food, which is really hard to do if you rely on restaurants. If I have dessert, I want to really enjoy it, so I usually save dessert for when I have the opportunity to have something amazing. If I want a little something sweeter at home, there are many flavors of yogurt that are fat-free and low in sugar or just a morsel of quality dark chocolate.
Seth: If I want to really get ripped, then about three weeks before an event I cut out most, if not all, carbs after 3:01 p.m. I eat chicken, fish, vegetables, and some fruit. I typically work out seven days a week, for about two hours a day. I lift heavy and concentrate on one to two body parts a day. I also incorporate sprints into my workout by mixing them between sets, which allows me to lift heavy, to build and keep muscle, while elevating my heart rate to burn fat.
Tips on partying like a rockstar
Any tips for the gays boys on how to party like Jared & Seth all Joining Hearts Weekend long and still make it to work on Monday?
Jared: Seth is incredible at preparing for fun weekends while I’m a little more spontaneous. Wanna fill them in on the groundwork, babe?
Seth: Sure! During the week leading up to the party weekend you can incorporate a few of these ideas to get your mind and body ready. A nutrient dense diet full of colored veggies is a must. Drink lots of water and make sure you are well hydrated. The week before an event, I like to make sure I get at least eight hours of sleep a night, so I go into the party weekend well-rested. I pack two nights before I leave for the trip, so the night before the flight I can relax and get plenty of sleep.
Jared: Yeah, I’m not as good at all that. I usually don’t sleep as much the night before because I’m packing! Haha. Which leads us to the weekend, where partying like Seth and Jared is a three-step process.
Seth: Ha! Let’s open the little black book and let out a few of our tricks!
Jared: Step 1. The Outfit. Make sure that you have something cute that shows off your best features and is fun! If you can coordinate with someone else, go ahead and do it! It’s a lot more fun to go out in theme, even if it’s just a quick color scheme. Shop at random stores instead of the big brands and don’t be afraid to test the waters. We usually like bright colors, cute shorts, and I’m always on the lookout for a shirt that would make a fun cutoff!
Step 2. The Crew. Go out with a fun group! One of the things I’ve always loved about Seth is that he’s up for anything most of the time. Usually, if someone in the group has an idea, we go with it! We’re not a group that takes ourselves so seriously that it prevents us from having fun. Don’t be cynical; don’t be critical; don’t be judgmental. There’s a time and a place for all that, but not when the goal is a party!
Step 3. Be Smart. If you have to be at work or on a plane early Monday morning, then make Saturday your blow out night. Feng Shui says that if it’s not “essential, useful, or beautiful, then don’t keep it in the house.” Well, Feng Jared says, “If it’s not exciting, enjoyable, or important, then skip it!”