JoJo, how did your parents react when you first told them about your sexuality?
JOJO: When I first came out, it was a real shock for them. Not long before that, I was engaged to a guy for five years. They’d only known me to have dated men. Not that I dated many guys, but for them it was a huge shock.
How do you feel about your relationship being under the microscope on national television?
JOJO: I know how amazing our relationship is and I think it’s a real blessing we get to share that with the world and also stand up and be a voice for those who are struggling to come out or struggling to be accepted. So we can be a voice for those guys right now and give them some strength so they know they’re not on their own.
Why did you want to share your story on the show?
JOJO: I don’t think there’s been a Lebanese gay person married on TV before! People are too scared, and yes, it’s scary … we knew going into it, but the opportunity came our way and we took it as a sign. And we think everything happens for a reason. Hopefully there will
be some good! We’re prepared for what is to come. But with the bad comes the good, with the highs come the lows. It’s a bit of a balance.
Why is your story such an important one to share?
JOJO: We want to normalise it. What we’re going through is not new, and it’s happening across the world. It’s happening in minorities and ethnic families and cultural backgrounds, religious backgrounds. We’re still fighting for equality and still fighting to be accepted. I've read some comments and I just ignore them. People commenting about same-sex couples, TV exposure. But we are struggling just like any other couple. All couples have their own issues with parents and in-laws and being accepted. Ours is the same!
Jess, how does it feel for you to hear how JoJo’s family speak about you and her relationship?
JESS: It does hurt hearing those things. They just make you feel like you don’t belong, or you don’t fit in with the rest of them. And people directing these comments at you … it hurts. Especially when it comes from people you love.
JOJO: They’re so old-school. I always hear that saying – you can’t teach an old dog new tricks. But we can just try and educate them and try and normalise it and just continue to love each other and continue to be good people. We’ve evolved in the last 50 years and so many things have changed … I think this is just one of those things we need to keep on fighting. We love each other!
Has the tension with JoJo’s family affected your relationship?
JESS: It hasn’t put a strain on our relationship. If anything, it made us grow stronger. We learnt a lot in the process. Having that support just makes you even stronger, and when you’ve got a great, powerful partner beside you, you can do anything! You can conquer anything.