Sheila Harris, ESSENCE
The Couple Is the First Same-Sex Couple Featured on ESSENCE’s Cover
(Black PR Wire) NEW YORK--(BUSINESS WIRE)--ESSENCE, the leading and only 100% Black-owned media, technology and commerce company at scale dedicated to Black women and communities, announces its March/April 2022 issue featuring EMMY award-winning actress Niecy Nash and singer Jessica Betts. In an issue dedicated to celebrating breakthrough moments of powerful women, they are ESSENCE’s first same-sex couple featured on its cover in the magazine’s history. In the cover story, Sure Betts, they talk to writer Demetria Lucas about everything from what they love about each other, handling the public’s initial response to their union, facing fears, feeling seen and more:
- NIECY ON WHAT SHE LOVES MOST ABOUT JESSICA: “The least of my attraction is gender…What I was and am still attracted to is Jessica’s soul. She was the most beautiful soul I had ever met in my life. Now that I’ve experienced it, I can’t imagine going through life without it…”
- JESSICA ON FEELING SEEN AND ACCEPTED: “…I absolutely feel fully seen. I feel like all of me is accepted. All of me is loved—and not just the part that I present, but the part that I don’t necessarily show to everyone else…”
- IECY ON FACING HER FEARS: “…Not only was it challenging for me to realize I’m having feelings for a woman that I’ve normally had for a man…but it was compounded by the fact that this is my friend. I thought, What I do not want to do is anything that would allow this person to not be in my life for the rest of my life. So I backed up. I was very afraid…”
- NIECY AND JESSICA ON THE INITIAL RESPONSE TO THEIR UNION (EXCERPT):“A lot of people thought it was like a movie or some promo,” Niecy recalls, still in disbelief at the reaction. “They started calling everybody, and we were like, ‘This is insane.’ I never knew why where you lay your head is such a big deal to other people. I was like, ‘People care?’” “She was really shocked,” Jessica adds. “I knew there was going to be some banter around it. But I didn’t know that it was literally going to”—Niecy chimes in with her wife, and they complete the sentence together, something they do a lot— “break the Internet!”
“Honoring breakthrough moments is a powerful theme in our March/April issue. Since Niecy Nash and Jessica Betts’ surprise announcement that they were married in 2020, they have become a model of what a relationship can be when you love unapologetically,” said ESSENCE Deputy Editor Cori Murray. “We celebrate the Bettses as the first same-sex couple to make the cover of ESSENCE. Their union serves as evidence that true love can blossom in unexpected places, if you’re brave enough to embrace it.”
“At ESSENCE, we believe that the Black woman is the CEO of her home and community and is not a monolith. We represent a spectrum of identities, experiences, and representations that collectively define all that we are. We are proud to continue to spotlight and strengthen who we are, in as many ways as we can, in a way that equitably celebrates our global community, and we are proud to continue doing it,” said ESSENCE’s CEO Caroline Wanga. “ESSENCE looks forward to continuing to serve as the voice that represents all facets of its powerful community today and in the years to come.”
This month, ESSENCE's issue is dedicated to honoring breakthrough moments of even more Black women in every area of their lives—from the Bettses who boldly declared their love, to the over one hundred trailblazers featured in Black Women in Hollywood who are consistently changing the game and much more.
(PHOTOS, ROBERT ECTOR)
ABOUT ESSENCE COMMUNICATIONS, INC.
Essence Communications is the number one—and only 100% Black-owned—media, technology and commerce company at scale dedicated to Black women and communities. With a community of more than 31 million Black women, ESSENCE inspires a global audience through diverse storytelling and immersive original content rooted in Culture, Equity and Celebration. The brand's multi-platform presence in/ publishing, experiential and online encompasses its namesake magazine; digital, video and social platforms; television specials; books; and signature live events, including Black Women in Music, Black Women in Hollywood, ESSENCE Black Women in Sports, Fashion House, Street Style and the ESSENCE Festival of Culture.