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A rose among thorns

Fri 8 Feb 2013 In: True Stories View at Wayback View at NDHA

Whangarei artist and lesbian Jessie Rose is one hell of a person. The forgiveness and love she has shown in response to parents who outed her in order to push their anti-gay sentiment is jaw dropping. How did she find such peace and tolerance? We get to know her a little better. Jessie Rose with some of her work. “It is what it is," is the often repeated mantra Jessie Rose shares as we chat over the phone about her life and how she has moved from a staunch Christian home, to being a happily civil unioned lesbian mum, who has nothing but understanding for the parents who publicly stated that being gay is “repugnant” and “evil”. Her mother in fact told the select committee hearing marriage equality submissions that "one of our daughters has had a series of terrible experiences with men … So bad that she has chosen the lesbian lifestyle." Jessie Rose, who is 33, told us she is sorry her mother "chose to disclose such personal information" and she finds it "hard to hear that that is, to my mum, the defining factor that has somehow made me gay." However, she feels no anger towards her mother and has already forgiven her. "I can forgive her for that," Rose said. "I already have, it's ok." So how did she become so at peace with it all? Life was pretty good growing up, Jessie Rose says. She has four siblings and when she was six her parents moved the family into a cow shed, while her father built around it. She was home schooled for a lot of her life, “so very cliché, home schooled, Christian parents,” she says. “But it was good, I don’t really have any complaints in that department,” she says of her early life. As for realising she was gay, Jessie Rose says she was never an overly sexual person and was never aware of her sexuality. “I think until I was 11 or 12 I pretty much thought I was a boy,” she says. “And then I became aware that I wasn’t and spent a lot of my life, definitely knowing I was different but without really putting a label on myself.” Jessie Rose met her now wife through a mutual friend about ten years ago, and Sarah was married with children at the time. Ultimately they fell in love and when she was in a long distance relationship with Sarah, who lived in Australia, they decided to make it official with a civil union. Now they have one of those cliché-drenched normal happily married lesbian lives, with their kids and their business, and plenty of love. Sarah (left) and Jessie. Sarah, 29, is her opposite, Jessie Rose says, “she’s an amazing lady. She’s very strong and beautiful … I’m really lucky to have somebody like her. She’s very outspoken and strong and confident and I’m probably more the opposite. I think we balance each other out.” Jessie Rose of course has hope her parents will see the light one day, but says she knows them well enough to realise that’s unrealistic. “It is what it is,” she says. “It would be wrong of me to even think of it being any other way really. I know how strongly they believe their interpretation of the bible. To try and make them be anything other than that, it would sadly to them, be compromising everything they are.” She says some of her friends can’t believe how her parents outed her and spoke of her at the select committee hearing, and many have been upset and angry. However she explains that she was raised by them, she knows what they are like and what their true heart is on the matter. “It’s hard though. I’m not allowed at their home. They won’t have anything to do with my partner … it’s messy as. So you get upset, sad and frustrated on quite a regular basis, but at the end of the day, I know it is what it is, and I knew that coming into it. And my partner knew that. And just because we choose to be who we are, it doesn’t mean everybody in the world has to go with it. It just doesn’t work that way. “It doesn’t make it easy or right, but we just need to get on and deal with it the best way we can, and live our lives. You can’t force others to accept who we are, of course that would ultimately be what everyone in our position would want and hope for, but you can’t demand or force it on to others. “It is definitely hard, I certainly have never wanted to hurt anyone, but sadly every one in this situation has been, and continues to be hurt in one way or another.” Art has clearly been one of the ways Jessie Rose has found herself and found peace. She currently has an exhibition showing at Matchbox Gallery on Cuba St in Wellington, under her moniker “Jessie Rose” which is a partnership between her and Sarah, which offers visual art, tattoo art and clothing design. Her religious upbringing is clear in her work, which mixes biblical and gothic symbolism with a theme every lesbian can relate to: beautiful women. The current exhibition is called Saint    Jacqui Stanford - 8th February 2013

Credit: Jacqui Stanford

First published: Friday, 8th February 2013 - 9:55am

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