How Channel 7 presenter pulled off epic proposal
U on Sunday socials editor and Channel 7 presenter Damien Anthony Rossi proposed to his long-time partner Jason Avery at the couple's home in Brisbane's northside this month, at a pool party celebration for Rossi's 55th birthday.
Rossi popped the question in front of his closest friends with the guest list an impressive collection of Queensland identities including Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk, Sam Thaiday and Lee Kernaghan.
Here, the couple share details of how they met each other and how Rossi became best friends with an eclectic group of Queensland celebrities.
Jason Avery, 46, events manager
Having relocated to Brisbane from Perth in the mid-2000s and working in events management, it was only a matter of time before I crossed paths with 'Brisbane's man-about-town'. One of my first projects was an opening night event for the Brisbane International Film Festival at the old Regent Cinemas, which is where I first laid eyes on Damien. I knew who he was and thought he was all right but we didn't have a chance to meet that evening. It was not until some time later that we connected via the internet.
When we first met up I didn't know much about Dame's "day job" or just how many people he knew in this town.
Despite the glamorous nature of his work and the plethora of people he is required to deal with on a daily basis, it was nice to discover that he is genuinely interested in each and every person with whom he comes into contact. Dame really is one of the most kind and thoughtful people you could ever meet. He wants to make a positive difference in people's lives, and has a sense of fun that is contagious.
Fast-forward to 2019 and we've been together more than a decade (which in gay years pretty much equates to our Diamond Anniversary). We own a home and have a wonderful life for which we are very grateful. We had spoken about marriage, especially since it became possible in Australia, but our lives and schedules tend to be a bit all over the place. We knew it would happen, just not when.
As Dame's parents were coming to visit in November, we decided that we'd have a party for his 55th birthday. The biggest challenge was to cull the original guest list as our deck can only accommodate a certain number. As any good event manager does, on the day of the party, my attention was focused on making all aspects of the day a success. This is why the proposal came as such a surprise. I certainly didn't expect it and there are some hilarious photos of my shocked reaction. The rest of the party was a total blur of champagne, good wishes and happiness though I'll never forget the beautiful song Lee and Robby Kernaghan sang to us after the proposal. We have been so humbled by all the beautiful messages and wishes that followed our engagement. It's truly been one of the happiest periods of our lives.
Damien Anthony Rossi, 55, UoS socials editor
It was early September 2008 and as the GFC was unfolding, I was spending the last couple of weeks of the northern summer at our family home in Los Angeles. Recently single and with a bit of downtime I decided to explore the wonderful world of internet dating (this was pre-apps as the iPhone had only just been released). Jason caught my attention straight away with his Hugh Grant-floppy hair, beautiful blue eyes and amazing smile. His profile intrigued
me, stating only: "I like AFL, kayaking and my tea black." Something about it made me chuckle.
Upon my return to Brisbane, we made a date to catch up. When he appeared at my door, my first thought was that he was even better looking in person. During the course of the evening, I think we went through two bottles of champagne and ended up at home watching the film Borat and the 2008 Miss Universe competition (Miss Venezuela won, of course).
What struck me was what a really lovely, genuine person he was. He was interested and interesting. Jase is also the wittiest person I have ever known. Whether it's quick quips, post-it notes around the house or text messages during the day, he keeps me in a constant state of amusement. Everyone should have a Jason in their life.
That first date led to another and before long I was taking him out on 'the scene' to various events and introducing him to my friends. Jason was very comfortable with what had been intimidating to many others I had dated, that is, mixing with all sectors of Brisbane society and people he'd only ever seen on TV or in the newspaper. After only a matter of weeks we committed to being exclusive.
We were thrilled when the same-sex marriage legislation was passed in 2017. Ever since, we had been speaking about the prospect of marriage but the funny thing that you have in a gay relationship is, who does the asking? If there was one single moment that was the catalyst to my proposing last month it was the lead-up to my parents' annual November visit. Our pool deck is above and behind our house and we had never had a handrail for the stone steps that lead down from it. Jason was so concerned for the safety of my folks that he was determined to get a handrail put in before they arrived. And that he did. That's just the type of thoughtful, wonderful man he is. Incidentally, I'm still waiting for him to suggest going to an AFL game or kayaking … but he does take his tea black.
THE PROPOSAL was a star-studded affair with Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk the ring bearer, Sam Thaiday filming the event at the couple's house by the pool deck and Lee Kernaghan capped it all off with a love song.
So, how did Brisbane's King of Socials, Damien Anthony Rossi become best friends with some of Queensland's most influential and popular identities?
Lee & Robby Kernaghan
I first met Robby at a Stefan Boating event that I hosted in 2016 at which she performed. Robby had me at hello, such a beauty inside and out. We met Lee soon afterwards and they have become very special friends. Such fun and
Al Rossi and Helen Rossi
It was so amazing having my parents here from LA for this special occasion. They are my best friends in the world and are the most loving, supportive parents a son
Sofie Formica and Scott Wilkie
We have known Sof and Scotty since they returned to Oz about 15 years ago and are two of our dearest friends. Sofie was partly responsible for my becoming a presenter on The Great South East in 2014. An amazing couple, we love them.
This man is truly a living legend. We first met when he and his gorgeous partner Rose King supported my annual charity event Rossi's Oscars many year sago. Since then they have become absolute family. I am so inspired by everything they put back into the community.
Melissa is one of my very closest friends. We met around 20 years ago through our mutual bestie Kelly Nahama. Liss and her husband D-J Wendt (manager of The Ten Tenors) are wonderful friends who we enjoy so much.
I first met Sam and his beautiful wife Rachel through last year's ICON Fashion Event that I co-produced and hosted in which they were two of our celebrity models. We became fast friends and they also live just down the road
Annastacia and I have always enjoyed each other over the years at events but it is only recently that we became friends. We had a very bonding night when I was Annastacia and Kate Jones's escort for the Logies 2019 red carpet in June. She's got a cracking sense
A very dear friend. I call her 'Cherry' - this came about when she moved up here from Sydney and I asked her to be one of the celebrity models in the fashion parade at our 2010 Rossi's Oscars charity event. I told her if she agreed she would be 'the cherry on top' and it stuck. We have such great fun together.