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Kelli's other
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Kelli's other
partner

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"This is the job of my life," says Gregg Kaminsky, who cofounded R Family Vacations with Kelli O'Donnell. "I can't imagine a more satisfying job."

Gregg never planned to revolutionize the cruise biz. He majored in journalism at the University of Texas--where he was a cheerleader--then got an MBA at the University of Southern California. "I was never one of those people who knew what I was going to do," he says. "I always thought that [my career] would just show up."

And so it did. MBA in hand, Gregg helped his life partner set up a business training race horses, which was his boyfriend's life's work. But in the early 1990s his partner succumbed to AIDS. The business died with him.

Grieving and, well, at sea about his future, Gregg went on a gay cruise to rejuvenate: "I always loved to travel." On the ship he made friends with an Atlantis employee--one of only three staffers at the time--who told him he was leaving his job. Gregg jumped at the opportunity. He wound up producing 33 trips for the company.

During this period Gregg was living in a town house in West Hollywood, Calif. He shared a wall with his gay neighbors, a Disney animator and a magazine editor. Me. His home was beautifully appointed, but you could feel his partner's absence. Gregg--a bundle of energy with sparkling eyes--seemed misplaced amid the heavy furniture and horsey art. Then one day he had a moving sale: Almost everything in his house was priced to move. (My partner and I bought a beautiful art deco mirror.)

Gregg was glowing with the electric happiness of new love. Indeed, you may recognize him from Bravo's documentary Gay Weddings: He and his new partner, Dan MacDonald, held a lavish commitment ceremony in 2002. They've now been together for six years.

Dan, who worked in television, was friends with a gay Nickelodeon employee named Kelli Carpenter. "When Rosie and Kelli started dating, Dan was one of the people who fit into their lives," Gregg recalls. "We sort of became a foursome. We did all our trips together. They are the people that we trust the most in our relationship." So when Gregg called Rosie one day, desperately hoping she'd help him find a celebrity replacement for a headliner who'd bagged on an Atlantis cruise at the last minute, she trusted him enough to say, "Why aren't you asking me?"

Rosie performed on the cruise, then did her coming-out interview with Diane Sawyer. She retired from her hit daytime TV show. Her family became her world, and Gregg and Dan were family. "Wouldn't it be great if we did one of those gay cruises, only with the children?" she asked Gregg one day.

Thus R Family Vacations was born.

"Kelli had great marketing experience, and her family had taken a cruise every year while she was growing up," Gregg recalls. "So while she didn't have the experience in the business that I did, she certainly had an eye for [what made a cruise successful]. Her family still does a cruise every year, but now it's the R Family cruise."

Gregg himself brings about 20 family members along on the boat, including his 2-year-old niece, Allie. "It's neat. I tell people, 'If you have a gay person in your family, you're a gay family.' " The Texas cheerleader has definitely found his calling. With R Family, he says, "we really are creating this big gay family. It's pretty amazing."

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