South Sudanese model Aweng Ade-Chuol and wife embrace on Elle UK’s December cover issue

MPHO RANTAO

THE British branch of Elle magazine has gone with the theme of love for the magazine’s final issue of 2020, featuring model couple Aweng Ade-Chuol and her wife Alexus.  

The South Sudanese-born supermodel and her wife got married in New York City in December 2019 in an intimate civil ceremony, which she posted as her coming out as part of the LGBT+ community.

When she posted the cover on Instagram, she posted it with the caption, “And to women who love women, who never realised that soul ties have been called by the ocean tides, love is as calm as the ocean gets”. 

Picture: Instagram/awengchuol

Dressed in frilly polka dot dresses for the cover image, the newlyweds are posed in an embrace, a symbol of their love to which Ade-Chuol felt like a special moment for her as a queer black woman who had faced backlash from the South Sudanese community over her sexuality and marriage, which had driven her to attempt suicide, saying “literally the whole of my community, were wishing that I passed, in a way”.

“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…”, Ade-Chuol told Elle. 

Ade-Chuol also told the magazine of her attempted suicide that resulted in her being hospitalised which she opened about on Twitter back in June, two months after the incident, as a result of the homophobic abuse received by parts of the South Sudansese community.

“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?”

Of the decision to share her suicide attempt, she said: “Young kids came up and said, “I’ve been thinking about it… And I’m like, OK, OK now.” 

Picture: Twitter/awengchuol 

“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 explained.  

“I’ve always been outspoken, and mental health has always been something that I’ve spoken on. But I guess I didn’t experience the other side of it until this year, when lockdown impacted my life directly, actually [put my] life at risk”. 

“When that happened, it was a reality check. Before, it was like, mental health is important, but now, it is the most important thing. Where you’re at mentally is the most important foundation”, she added.

The 21 year-old model was born in a refugee camp in Kenya and moved to Sydney, Australia at the age of 7. 

She was scouted twice before becoming a full-time model at 18, and shot to the spotlight after being featured in Rihanna’s Fenty Beauty and Savage x Fenty fashion shows, as well as Beyonce’s ‘Black is King’ music film.

Ade-Chuol is also famous for her unique look, which she attributed to her adventurous streak growing up in the refugee camp, and down to a genetic condition called ‘Schmid-Fraccaro’ – which causes the whites of her eyes to change from grey to brown depending on what climate she’s in.

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