Niecy Nash and Jessica Betts Celebrate Making History as First Same-Sex Couple to Cover 'Essence'

"We have such a natural compatibility that we can be around each other, work together and hang out all day. If there was a 25th hour, we would be right up in it," Nash says of Betts

Niecy Nash and Jessica Betts Essence cover
Niecy Nash and Jessica Betts on the cover of Essence. Photo: Robert Ector

Niecy Nash and Jessica Betts are proudly showing off their love!

The pair — who have been married for nearly two years — made history this week as they graced the cover of Essence's March/April 2022 issue, officially becoming the first same-sex couple to do so.

"Making H E R S T O R Y 💫👑🖤" Nash, 52, wrote on Instagram, celebrating the historic cover. "Thank you @essence for choosing The Betts as your FIRST same sex couple to cover you [sic] magazine! #BettsOfWorlds #MakingHistory #Herstory #BlackHistoryMonth"

In a separate post, alongside a photo of the pair posing topless, the Claws actress added: "Simply The Betts 🖤 L o v e > U N C O V E R E D"

Sharing the cover in her own post, Betts, 42, wrote: "H E R S T O R Y 🦋 Thank you @essence for allowing L❤️ve to win! First #SameSex couple to Ever grace the Cover 👽🙏🏾"

In the new issue, which hits newsstands on March 1, Nash and Betts open up about their love story and share why, despite their uncertain beginnings, they are now happier than ever.

"The least of my attraction is gender," Nash told the magazine. "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."

Nash and Betts, a singer-songwriter, first connected on social media in 2015 while Nash was still married to ex-husband Jay Tucker. After her split from Tucker, Nash's friendship with Betts took a romantic turn.

"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," Nash recalled to Essence. "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.'"

On Aug. 31, 2020, the couple made a surprise announcement on their respective Instagram accounts and revealed that they had said "I do."

Reflecting back on that moment, the couple told Essence that they had planned to post the photo and then jet off to Mexico, where they would turn off their phones and enjoy time together without the stress of the world's reaction.

However, a travel mishap caused the pair to change plans and head to Santa Barbara instead. During their drive, Nash and Betts said they held hands and prayed before uploading the marriage announcement.

niecy nash wedding
Niecy Nash and Jessica Betts. Robert Ector for REP Publishing

"A lot of people thought it was like a movie or some promo," Nash told the magazine. "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," Betts recalled. "I knew there was going to be some banter around it. But I didn't know that it was literally going to break the Internet!"

Though they were initially worried about how the world would react, the couple has become unafraid to display their PDA and share their marital bliss.

"We're extremely compatible," Nash explained. "Sometimes you can be attracted to somebody but don't have a lot in common. But we have such natural compatibility that we can be around each other, work together and hang out all day. If there was a 25th hour, we would be right up in it."

"And not get tired of each other," Betts chimed in.

RELATED VIDEO: Niecy Nash on Which 3 Celebrity Friends She First Told About Her Relationship with Jessica Betts

Nash and Betts also spoke in-depth about their partner's best qualities and why they believe they were meant to be.

"I absolutely feel fully seen," Betts noted. "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."

"I feel like the love that I receive from her is custom, as opposed to off the rack. I feel like the assignment happened in the spirit realm before we ever knew about it," explained Nash, who agreed that Betts truly sees her for who she is.

"It's to be accepted for the truth of who you are, all the way around, good, bad or indifferent," she continued. "It's where someone sees your past, your pain, your bullet holes, your stab wounds, whatever you got in a bag over your shoulder when you show up, and they say, 'I see it all, and I still love and receive you.'"

Nash previously opened up to PEOPLE about her marriage to Betts in September 2020, describing their surprise nuptials as a "going into myself" rather than a "coming out."

"[My marriage] has absolutely nothing to do with gender and it has everything to do with her soul," said Nash. "She is the most beautiful soul I have ever met in my life."

"I was not suppressing my sexuality my whole life," she added of her decision to marry the singer. "I love who I love. At one point in my life, I married twice and I love those people. And today I love this person. I've done everything I wanted to do on my own terms and my own way. So my choice now in a partner has nothing to do with who I've always been. It's a matter of who I am in this moment."

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