By Advocate Contributors
Originally published on Advocate.com January 30 2014 8:00 AM ET
Deondray: Quincy and I met 18 years ago through mutual friends who were straight. My friend told me, “You’ve got to meet Quincy. He reminds me so much of you. He’s an actor and he writes too. Y’all should talk.” Of course, he was only trying to link us up for creative and business reasons. He had no idea we were gay. We were both actors then and very closeted for fear that it would ruin our chances in Hollywood. Our courtship began with a very complicated game of cat and mouse on a short-film shoot, which we were both actors in.
Quincy: When I met Deondray, I was in a long-distance relationship, and I had spent the last two years of my life celibate, living as a licensed minister. Even after I met him, I had no desire or intention to allow myself to feel attracted to another man. I thought my same-sex desires were something I could control and eliminate. Little did I know that in the coming months I would be forced to face my inconvenient truth: I eventually had to reconcile my contradictory beliefs with my heart.
I gave love a try, and for seven years we loved in secrecy. Many of our friendships suffered because of the fear, and we began to feel the pain of being unable to celebrate our love and be supported just as those around us. Engagement after engagement, wedding after wedding, birth after birth, we were by our friends’ sides. We gave our hearts to them but were afraid that it would never be reciprocated. It was painful, but we would later learn it was an irrational fear.
Deondray: Disillusioned with the lack of people of color in LGBT media and growing tired of the media witch hunt for African-American gay, bi, and questioning men, otherwise known as "the down low," we created an indie anthology series called The DL Chronicles that explored the lives of men of color who lived double lives. The ironic thing was that we were still closeted at the time. It was very conflicting to be so impassioned about an issue and be advocating for authenticity, yet still remain in the proverbial closet. We decided as a unit that when our short film "came out" at its first film festival, we would "come out" with it.
Quincy: The success of The DL Chronicles set us on a whole new path. We had embraced our truth and in a very public arena and had become accidental activists.
Deondray: Our viewers seemed to resonate with us as a couple, as much as the show itself. It seemed like every interview about the show would always end up being more about our relationship. It caused us to look at ourselves in a different way. It was like our community needed us to stay together. They needed something to believe in, hope for, and aspire to be. It was a very daunting task and burdensome. We were put on a pedestal as the “Perfect Couple” and it made it very difficult to navigate our relationship. We had problems like any other couple, but we suddenly had a public persona to uphold. During the 2007 GLAAD Awards in San Francisco, where The DL Chronicles made history by being the first African-American show that was nominated and won, we had to face the crowd and cameras that night as a couple, when we made our acceptance speeches. No one knew this, but we were actually separated at the time. Having to hear how cute we were as a couple over and over again that night was incredibly uncomfortable.
Quincy: We were under the spotlight and people wanted to celebrate our love and work. Meanwhile, we were building a facade that wasn’t truthful to our experiences once again. I had left one closet only to build another. We were never a flawless couple, and making it work was never simple. I didn’t want to continue to support a false image that at any moment could come crashing down. It was just too difficult for me to live a lie again. So we sought to deflect the attention away from our relationship and back to our work while we did some soul searching.
Deondray: Quincy and I have the gift of being incredible communicators, and having a love so deep that it transcends. I can’t explain our connection succinctly in words, but it’s the most meaningful and deepest connection I’ve ever had. I can’t bear to be without him even if he’s the one I have the problem with.
Quincy: I come from a family who doesn’t like to talk through their feelings and I kept my emotions bottled up. There were times that I was a time bomb waiting to explode and I often did. Deondray taught me the skill and value of communication. Communication was certainly instrumental in keeping us together. It’s not easy because I can be a bit of a firecracker, but the times that we have fought, we were fighting to stay together, not fighting to be apart
Deondray: The first time I asked Quincy to marry me, he said no, we weren’t ready. Then Prop. 8 was overturned for a short time, but we didn’t want to be pressured into it. Then it was stopped again, so we settled on a domestic partnership in 2012 but found it provided only a fraction of the same protections as marriage. It was a slap in the face.
Two years forward, when we got the call from a casting firm asking us if we were interested in getting married on live television, we were immediately skeptical. Quincy and I produce reality television and understand how something with the greatest intention can so easily become exploitive. After they told us it was for the Grammy Awards, it still really didn’t make us feel much better. It now just had the potential to be exploitive on a bigger level. After talking it over, we decided we were ready for the fallout if there was to be one. We have loved each other for more than 18 years and been able to sustain and preserve our commitment and deserve every right to marriage. Taking that stance and braving something so momentous would signal a shift in policy, attitudes, and progress. It would be something that I wish I could have seen as a closeted teenager growing up in south Los Angeles. I would have had a different outlook for my life. I would have known I was going to be OK a lot sooner.
Quincy: We’ve matured together, from our 20s to 40s, from boys to men, and our love has grown even stronger. We have fought to love each other and have overcome so many hurdles and obstacles. We have proven the skeptics wrong, and we have outloved each other longer than most. We earned the right for our lives together to be celebrated and that happened at the 56th Annual Grammys in front of 28 million people who reciprocated the same love that we have given others. In one moment our lives were changed once again.