South Sudanese fashion model Aweng Ade-Chuol has appeared on the cover of Elle UK magazine in a passionate embrace with her wife.
The US-based catwalk star married nail artist entrepreneur Alexus Ade-Chuol in Manhattan shortly before New York City went into lockdown.
Ade-Chuol, who covers the January issue, spoke about how their relationship had prompted abuse from people from the South Sudan community, leading to her attempting to kill herself.
She said: “That is really baffling to me, and I’m still processing it. 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 attempted (suicide). 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.
“For me, it was like, with the political climate that’s going on, you really think that my marriage is the most significant thing in your life right now?
“It was saddening, because it was the happiest day of my life, and they couldn’t let me enjoy it.”
In June she revealed in a post on Instagram that she had attempted suicide two months earlier and spent three days in intensive care.
But Ade-Chuol, who was born in Kenya’s Kakuma refugee camp, told her followers she was “in a much better place now”.
Addressing the decision to share her story widely, she told Elle UK: “Young kids came up and said, ‘I’ve been thinking about it… And I’m like, OK, OK now.’
“I can’t respond to everybody. I had to put a general announcement out to say, ‘Hey guys, I’ve announced what happened to me, I guess things could be happening in your life, too, but I’m still learning. I need to manoeuvre around this thing I went through, so I don’t know how to help you but here’s some suggestions: therapy and self-acceptance.’”
She also discussed working with Beyonce on her visual album Black Is King, which was released to critical acclaim in July.
“Every girl’s dream is to work with Queen B, and that was my dream as a kid,” she said.
The January issue of Elle UK is on sale from December 1.