The couple posed for the stunning photoshoot for the magazine’s January issue
(Picture: ELLE UK/Meinke Klein)
Fashion model Aweng Ade-Chuol has taken a stand against the homophobic abuse she received after getting married last year, by appearing on the cover of Elle UK magazine in a clinch with her wife.
The South Sudanese supermodel and nail artist Alexus posed for the stunning cover as part of a shoot for the magazine’s January issue, which is on sale from today.
In the accompanying interview, Aweng spoke candidly about the abuse and the effect it had on her mental health.
Trigger warning: This article contains reference to suicide.
Same-sex marriage has been constitutionally banned in South Sudan since 2011, and Aweng faced severe backlash from her community after her wedding in New York last December.
‘We got married and the whole world, literally the whole of my community, were wishing that I passed, in a way… A few months later, I attempt [suicide],’ she told the magazine.
‘It was really absurd, because subconsciously I felt I was maybe drained by the fact we’d got married. It’s still a discussion now, like, “How dare she marry a woman?” You can’t control what people say, and there were tabloids and newspapers back in Sudan… It was a whole thing.’
Aweng shared the mental impact of her ordeal at the time in an Instagram post, saying: ‘Completely torn. I cannot get up today. I will check in next week. This world continues to fail every version of my existence. Rest in strength. You screamed for help & the world watched.’
In a later post, Aweng revealed that she had attempted to take her own life two months previously.
She wrote: ‘I attempted suicide two months ago today.
‘And I just want to say, that I’m in a much better place. And no one had to know that – but it’s good to get it out of my chest.
‘I feel well enough to. Especially today. I am thankful for life.’
Aweng suggested ‘therapy and self-acceptance’ as coping mechanisms for LGBTQIA+ people facing similar situations. In September, she wrote the words ‘I am a lesbian’ on Twitter for the first time, and she told Elle UK the reaction was ‘beautiful’.
‘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 continued. ‘I’m human at the end of the day, I’m very human, I’m learning myself.’