“Meet the Gossfields”: Power Couple Riffs on Love, Art, & Getting Married At the Grammys
When One+Love went in search of a male couple of color to feature for Valentine’s Day, we were told to look no further than Deondray and Quincy Gossfield (formerly known as Deondray Gossett and Quincy LeNear). Often billed as a “power couple”–even included in BET’s list of the most famous LGBT couples–these men are united in love and labor. They got married by Queen Latifah in a group wedding at the Grammys and they’re the founders of 2 Cents Productions, an independent production company that has claimed 20 awards and accolades.
One of their award-winning creations is The DL Chronicles, a cable anthology series that tells the stories of men of color and their secret sex lives. A cult hit in the U.S., Canada, and France, The DL Chronicles is the first African-American television series to win the GLAAD Media Award for Outstanding Television Anthology.
This dynamic duo have also developed/produced television series such as The Zane Chronicles (HBO/Cinemax), Face Off (Syfy), Family Dance Off (ABC), Randy Jackson Presents: America’s Best Dance Crew (MTV), The Sing Off (NBC), Make Your Mark Shake It Up Dance Off (The Disney Channel), and The Laugh Factor (The CW Network). The creative team also has a feature film slated for production later this year.
Their packed schedules don’t crowd out their advocacy efforts, however. The Gossfields mentor for Outfest Film Festival’s Outset, a mentorship program that supports young LGBTQ filmmakers. The Gossfields were also the co-creators and directors of the Kaiser Family Foundation’s “Greater Than AIDS” campaign, which was called one of “the most powerful and effective AIDS PSA awareness campaigns ever done focusing on the HIV/AIDS epidemic in the African-American community.” Not surprisingly, they were recognized by the California State Assembly for their outstanding contribution to California and the LGBT community.
With no further ado, meet the Gossfields….
How did you two meet and how did you know “this is Mr. Right”?
Deondray: We met through two straight friends who were writing partners. One was Quincy’s roommate who had moved to LA with him from Chicago and the other was my friend from college. My friend kept telling me, “You need to meet Quincy. He reminds me so much of you. He’s an actor and writer, too. Y’all should meet.” He only thought of it as a creative collaboration. He had no idea that either of us was gay.
I knew he was the one for me when he first made dinner for me. He toiled in the kitchen to make the perfect dish of stewed chicken, stir-fried purple cabbage, and homemade strawberry lemonade. It was like he was trying to put all of his love and affection into that dish; he was an alchemist and the food was his elixir. He wasn’t just cooking for me; he wanted to covey something that couldn’t be put into words. Something deeper than the words he had already said to me. He didn’t tell me to come and eat–he brought the plate to me and the food was placed on the plate like art. For the first time, someone was trying to love on ME, and it felt so good to finally be on the receiving end. Loving him was easy. No chasing after someone or trying to prove my worth. He STILL brings me my food to this very day, unless he’s pissed off at me…. [LAUGHS]
Quincy: He was the first person who genuinely made me laugh. There was a period in my life where I was not easily amused. Nonetheless, I did bend over backwards to make everyone else happy. He did everything for me that I did for others. After spending a lot of time with him in the beginning of our courtship, we came to a standstill and broke up. I didn’t know where the relationship was headed then. I wasn’t even sure if I was capable of loving another man. It was during that brief time apart it began to feel as if someone had removed half of my heart. That’s when I realized I was in love.
How do you think creative collaboration has impacted your partnership? And vice versa?
Quincy: It has its pros and cons. We can often bring work issues home or take home issues to work. It can be difficult to keep the two separate. Working together and being a couple can also affect one’s sense of individuality. People often see us as one or as interchangeable and that is not always healthy for the ego. We have had to learn how to make sure we are each individually allowed to be ourselves and also be acknowledged for who WE are as independent, creative, and intelligent beings. We have a lot of similarities but we also have a lot of skills, talents, and interests that are different and they too need to be explored. You become one as a couple, but you are never really free of individuality. It’s not healthy to abandon that and we have had to learn that.
Deondray: Yes our work can sometimes meld us into one–not only from the outside in, but from the inside out. We’ve had to learn to be mindful that we also behave in the ways that others who work with us do. We have learned to not make knee-jerk decisions without consulting each other first and to get both points of view before making any decisions. Just because we’re partners doesn’t mean that we see eye to eye on everything, so we’re learning to stop assuming that the other one is on the same page and shares the same opinion and always consult each other first.
It’s also really difficult to get people to acknowledge us as two individuals who work as a team. Often there’s an assumption made about who does what. Whichever one of us speaks the most or the loudest at any event or Q&A after a screening usually gets pegged as the one steering the ship– when, in fact, Quincy and I take turns being outspoken and are both equally responsible for all the work on the screen. We’re the perfect ying and yang, but people will often try to classify us and put us in hierarchies within our own partnership. We always have to remember to not take this out on each other and leave it at the Q&A.
What was it like getting married at the Grammys?
Quincy: Getting married at the Grammys was simply unbelievable. I had joked–two years ago when DOMA was overturned–that I wonder now if I can get Beyonce to sing at my wedding. Serendipitously, she actually did. [LAUGHS]
Honestly, the biggest take from getting married at the Grammys was not the glamour of it all but the lives it touched and the hearts it changed. Since the wedding the outpouring of support from people across the globe has been overwhelming. We’ve received some of the most heartfelt and touching letters from people struggling with their sexuality to people struggling to accept others’ sexuality.
So regardless of what the naysayers have said–the controversy of journalists accusing Macklemore of appropriating Black and LGBT culture for gain–they can NEVER take away the power and the influence of that moment, and they can NEVER take away the love and support that has come to all 33 couples. It’s sad that people are so cynical about everything that they failed to even realize the impact that moment had. Furthermore, we were real people declaring our hearts, laying it bare for the world to see and being celebrated in a way we could have never imagined. To shit on that pisses me off but hurt people find no other recourse than to hate.
Deondray: It was the single most precious day of my life. Looking into the eyes of the man that I have loved for almost 18 years while remembering everything that it took to get here: growing, maturity, fighting to stay together, our successes, our failures, our coming out, our tears, our laughs, our career struggles and triumphs, our early rejections of marriage as an institution evolving into that moment. I knew things were never going to be the same. Something had shifted and I did’t think I could love him any deeper than I already did. Declaring my love for him in front of 28 million people holds you accountable and it was no small gesture. Not to mention that Macklemore and Madonna were our guest singers and Queen Latifah was our officiator! You couldn’t write a better fairy tale. I haven’t stopped grinning for weeks.
Your work and your love has struck a chord with so many other SGL/gay men of color. Why do you think that is?
Quincy: We are all beings who desire and want to be loved. Next to our basic survival needs, love is top. I’d go as far as to say that LOVE is a survival need. You can have everything–money, shelter, food, etc–but without love, you are dead inside. So being SGL individuals, love for us has never been accepted in our society and cultures. We have had to smother love, hide it, dress it up in heterosexual clothing, be ashamed of it, and pretend it was something else. There is a yearning and longing in our community to be free of the constraints; our hearts want to breathe. This sad and unfortunate truth has forced us to seek gratification in some of the most destructive ways. We can’t foster healthy relationships because we can’t love ourselves.
So I feel that we give people hope. We have walked the same road as many and found a way out of the BS. It inspires people who really want that opportunity, that chance to be happy and proud and unafraid to love and be loved.
Deondray: Long-term relationships in our community seem to be as mystical as unicorns. You just simply don’t see them. When we tell people we’ve been together for 18 years, jaws drop to the floor in utter shock. They try really hard to understand. HOW? WHEN? WHERE? HOW? HOW? HOW? After getting the same reaction almost 100% of the time, and speaking on panels across the country about relationships, I have come to learn that we haven’t been taught the skills to successfully navigate the unique terrains of SGL courtships. There are no role models. In many ways we’re still trying to find our bearings. We simply don’t know how to become long-termers because long-termers aren’t discussed, fostered, or even seen.
Modeling is one of the best ways to learn how to stay committed. That’s why Quincy and I don’t mind being vocal, honest, and public about our relationship. We’ve been trying to re-educate young SGL men about their dating practices, teaching them to lose their false, over-the-top, fairytale-like expectations of a relationship, and understanding their self-worth while abandoning conceit. I think we give a face to what’s possible for SGL men. It’s the picture of a stable future that they too can aspire to. It humanizes them.
Any Valentine’s Day advice to other couples or love-seekers?
Quincy: To give love a try. Cliché! No, really. Love cannot exist in the presence of fear. You are either one or the other. If you approach a relationship from the perspective of fear, then that is the type of unhealthy relationship you will foster. You will act, think, and respond out of fear. It leaves no room for love, like weeds that kill a garden.
Deondray: Be open. Take a chance and be vulnerable. Put down your sword and your armor and let someone SEE you. If it’s the first date, don’t be TOO candid, but do offer something up of yourself that’s appropriate, yet guarded by you. Also remember to LISTEN. Talking too much can indicate to the other person that you’re self-absorbed. Let them speak, and actually LISTEN to what they’re telling you. Look for these two qualities in the guys that you date. They are the two best indicators of a relationship that has the potential to grow.
Anything else you want to add?
Quincy: We want to thank everyone who has been so supportive. We greatly appreciate the camaraderie and love we have been given, and we do not take that for granted.
Furthermore, we have some exciting developments coming up. Make sure to follow us at our facebook page, and Twitter: @dlchronicles and Instagram: @thedlchronicles. Look out for the public release of Episode Thomas very soon. Follow the (old) newlyweds on our new page Meet the Gossfields.
We are considering bringing back “The OUTside of Relationships” show on a bigger level. And check out the pilot episode of our summer comedy series Bedside Manor, starring Lynn Wactor (aka Shirley from The DL Chronicles, Episode Robert). So stay tuned! 2014 we are coming strong!