Jessica St Rose decided to become an activist not only for herself, as she lives her life as an open lesbian, but also for those who are voiceless and afraid. She is Board Secretary of United and Strong, the only established organization championing the rights of LGBTI people in St Lucia. Read her story, told to Miles Rutendo Tanhira from RFSL.
What drives you?
Advocacy is my passion and, although I sometimes get negative comments and discrimination from the public, I use this as my motivation to continue my fight and hope for a brighter day for the LGBTI community in my country.
How do you relax?
Apart from advocacy I’m also a lover of Carnival and Soca music. You can always find me parading the streets of St.Lucia in my beautifully decorated costume. I’m a lover of music, so I use music as my escape to relaxation.
I also like nature, going to waterfalls, rivers and hideaways away from the noise helps me to relax and start my days giving thanks for the wonders of life.
What the are the achievements of United and Strong?
United and Strong celebrated its 15th Anniversary this year and that in itself is a remarkable achievement.
Some of our notable accomplishments as an organisation are; firstly, the Caribbean Women’s Sexual and Diversity Conference, secondly, the Regional Police sensitization training on ways to better assist the LGBTI community and thirdly the National HIV/AIDS outreach and education campaign leading up to Worlds AIDS Day.
As an activist what change would you want to see happen in St Lucia?
I want to see the Buggery Law being removed. As it stands the Government is not speaking about this step despite our constant engagements.
With the law still existing, LGBTI people can’t live an open life. I believe with the removal of this law will reduce discrimination and stigma attached to the LGBT community and people will be able to live a life without fear.
Can you share some advice on how to work?
We must remember to take care of ourselves. Sometimes we get lost in doing the work and fighting for equality that we forget to take care for ourselves and take time out. Being an activist can be very time consuming and also stressful, especially if we live in places where human rights are not totally recognized or LGBT lives can be in danger.
“We must remember to take care of ourselves”
We are constantly faced with many struggles and stories in our respective countries and that can weigh us down. Therefore we must learn to heal our minds and body. If we want to continue to rally this movement we must be able to function effectively in all areas of our lives.