Artists and activists Deondray and Quincy LeNear Gossfield made history when Queen Latifah officiated their wedding at the 56th Annual Grammy Awards during Macklemore’s performance of “Same Love.” (Madonna and Mary Lambert were also part of the ceremony. Can’t beat that.)
Together they’ve continued using their growing platform to highlight queer and social justice causes. In addition to creating the GLAAD Media Award-winning film anthology series The DL Chronicles, The Chadwick Journals, and The DL Chronicles Returns, the couple (who were dubbed by BET as one of the leading Black gay power couples two years in a row) also produced a reboot of BET’s reality series Sunday Best. Today, they are gearing up to launch &SEEN, a streaming service that will feature provocative, cutting-edge programming tailor-made for LGBTQ people of color. Deondray spoke with us about love, weddings, and marriage.
What’s the biggest wedding mistake people should avoid?
Putting too much into the outfits, bows, and ribbons—forgetting what the day is truly about: each other. We stressed about outfits (we had two changes), our families’ acceptance, our haircuts, and our shoes. It wasn’t until later that night when we were alone eating a Fatburger that I looked at him and realized that nothing else in the world mattered except him. If I had worked from that place at the beginning, the day would have been less stressful.
Has marriage changed your life?
Yes, in ways unexpected. For one, we have earned respect from our family and friends. Even after 18 years together, people still made us feel like we were playing house or “going through a phase.” Things changed drastically for us after we made this public declaration. We both felt more absorbed into each other’s families and felt less like outer rings of society.
What’s a wedding tip you wish you had heard before you got married?
Don’t sweat the small stuff. So what if the caterer arrived late or the flowers are missing the tulips you ordered? You ain’t gonna be lying next to the tulips or the caterer for the rest of your life. And if you do, that marriage is over either way.
Is it important for LGBTQ youth to see couples, weddings, and marriages like yours?
Yes, it’s affirming. For so long LGBTQ people had not been able to see themselves reflected back to them as participating members of society. They had no prototypes of what their futures could look like. Young queer people seeing us married for five years, and being together for 23-plus years, gives hope that things will get better and that there is a future for them.
What’s more important: a great wedding or a happy marriage?
A happy marriage, hands down. We had a fairy-tale wedding being married on the Grammys by Queen Latifah, but when the confetti settled and the music stopped, it was just about me and him. We had a head start because we had already been together 18 years before we tied the knot. We had already done the work, but for most couples the real work begins after the marriage. All the pomp and circumstance from the wedding means very little when real-life struggles set in: finances, personal conflicts, and children, if you have them. You have to keep making a commitment every day to each other after the wedding to be able to sustain. And those days won’t have flowers, wedding cakes, and tuxedos. It’ll just be the two of you with scattered hair, morning breath, and baggy eyelids saying to each other, “I still chose you.”