22-year-old Sudanese supermodel Aweng Ade-Chuol, known for her work with Fenty, Ralph Lauren, and singer Beyoncé, among others, can be seen on the January 2021 cover of Elle UK along with her wife Alexus. The two being on the cover together is a win, but what they’re doing is even more amazing: kissing,
It’s been a busy and rough year so far for many of us, Ade-Chuol included. A bright spot, however, was when the couple met in January of 2019 and then married in December of the same year. The cover features the former refugee kissing her nail entrepreneur wife, while editorial images inside features them in a variety of topless poses.
The interview with Ade-Chuol, though, is the real supporting star of the magazine’s issue (right behind the cover, of course). The model opens up about recent moments in her life, both the good and the bad.
“I’m the kind of person who has met many beautiful people, and it’s like, OK, cool, bye,” Ade-Chuol said of meeting now-wife Alexus. “But after I saw her, I annoyed the sugar out of her until she gave me her personal number.”
But the interview also touched on the darker sides of Ade-Chuol’s life and identity. In South Sudan, where the model originally hails from, same-sex marriage is still both illegal and punishable by up to 10 years in prison. In 2006, her family was granted asylum in Sydney, Australia. And though Ade-Chuol feels comfortable in her identity, she says she received overwhelming backlash from her home country when she announced her marriage to another woman. So much so that, earlier this year, she attempted suicide because of what she was hearing about herself and her marriage.
“We got married and the whole world, literally the whole of my community, were wishing that I passed, in a way,” Ade-Chuol told Elle UK. “A few months later, I attempt [suicide]. It was really absurd, because subconsciously I felt I was maybe drained by the fact we’d got married.”
But a setback, no matter how serious, wouldn’t stop Ade-Chuol from living her life freely and comfortably. When she spoke out about her experience in June, she received an overwhelming amount of love from both Sudanese LGBTQ+ women and others around the world. When she was approached by Elle UK to be on its January cover, the model said she took it as an opportunity to fight back against the bullies — as much as she could by herself.
“I wish I could say, ‘Let me hold the torch for the LGBTQIA+ Sudanese community,’ but it’s a lot for one person to handle,” she told the magazine. “I’m human at the end of the day, I’m very human, I’m learning myself.”