The tables were turned on two reality show producers at Sunday's Grammy Awards.
Deondray and Quincy Gossfield (their last name is a combination of the last names they were given at birth: Gossett and Fields) didn't quite know what to expect when a casting director asked them if they would be interested in being married on national television.
The couple first met in 1996 when neither had stepped out of the proverbial closet yet. They each sought Hollywood fame, the couple recalled of their younger days, and began shooting their own films to feature their talents on screen. In doing so, they began falling in love with being behind the scenes, while falling deeper in love with each other. Together they eventually produced a scripted television series called "The DL Chronicles," which aired on the HERE! network and a scripted prequel series called "The Chadwick Journals." The pair also works as competition reality show producers.
"It was surreal," Deondray said. "We were asked to do it, but were extremely skeptical. The casting people put out a wide net. A friend of ours is a friend of someone at the casting firm. They were looking for people who were engaged, but hadn't gotten married yet."
The pair already had a registered domestic partnership and were under the impression that because Proposition 8 had been overturned, their domestic partnership would eventually be considered a marriage in the eyes of the state of California where they live. (But why not celebrate their union with a wedding ceremony?)
"We had to sign a non-disclosure agreement," Deondray said. Three weeks ago they told us it was the Grammys, but we couldn't say a word." Because they work in production, they made up stories to tell their family and friends to make sure they would watch, but careful not to spoil the surprise. "We said we're doing a segment on Macklemore and we told people to watch. We said, 'This is our best work yet!'"
"It was about making a statement," Deondray said. "We've dedicated our careers to advocacy. Any opportunity we get to speak out and be proud of who we are, any opportunity we get to change peoples minds and attitudes, we do."
Once they began walking into the audience area, "Everyone was smiling and I got this rush of energy," Deondray said. "I walked out and looked to my left and I saw Katy Perry and saw tears rolling down her face and she was welling up. The reality that a celebrity, who doesn't know me, was connecting with me connecting with my partner – with no judgement…that sent me over the edge. I just lost it."
Indeed, many lost it – in the crowd and at home.
"I was excited," Quincy said "My adrenaline was pumping. And when they opened the door and we entered the the stadium through the back entrances, we could see everyone. The amount of people there was overwhelming. I had more nerves than emotions at that point. When we got into place and we began to walk, that's when the audience noticed us and everyone stood to their feet when they realized what was about to happen. It was such a surprise for everyone there. To see the overwhelming support and encouragement, that really just filled me up. When I saw Deondray after he had his Katy Perry moment, I made eye contact with Paul McCartney and he put his hand over his heart and he nodded at me and that's when I let it go. It was like he knighted me. Simultaneously, this was happening when Queen Latifah was marrying us. It couldn't have been written better in a story."
Despite the overwhelmingly happy tears, there has been significant criticism of the accolades Macklemore, a white artist, has received (in sweeping awards that some say may have belonged to other – other black – artists).
In an article for Colorlines published on Monday, Jamilah King shared a question her colleague posed on Facebook, "Does he represent an indictment of white supremacy — or a celebration of it?" In her analysis, King wrote:
"It’s what many black hip-hop fans find irksome about him, the fact that this 30-year-old white guy has gained so much notoriety for making a black art form palatable for white listeners. He raps of thrift stores and marriage equality and, don’t get me wrong, it’s good music, catchy; dude is undeniably good at his craft. But he wears his white privilege like one of his ironic fur coats, a gaudy reminder to show how the music industry’s racial inequities are still stubbornly in place."
"He made headlines even before the show began when it was announced that Queen Latifah would marry dozens of gay couple’s during Macklemore’s performance of “Same Love,” his celebration of marriage equality. It was a move so calculated that you couldn’t help but roll your eyes, even if the intention was to put gay couples at the center of music’s biggest moment. It was, in many ways, too calculated, too obvious, a move that did little to shift attention to the plight of the black artists who are regularly screwed over by the industry that has so openly embraced Macklemore’s music. Perhaps a more meaningful act would have been to share the stage with a black queer artist, anyone from Angel Haze and New York-based rapper Le1f, who’s openly criticized him for profiting off of the plight of the LGBT community."
When asked for their take on this criticism of Macklemore, the Gossfield's, both black men, had some conflicting thoughts:
"I think that it's a pretty harsh statement," Quincy said. "We already know that he's benefitting from white privilege, he can't help that he was born white. However, I do understand the social context behind what she said. We're part of a double-minority. In the gay community, when you hear someone wanting equality, the reaction is that they're pushing a gay agenda. Same thing for people of color. But that's the thing, only white people can teach other white people about racism."
"This particular song, because it was so socially relevant at just the right moment in time, it wouldn't have mattered who it was," Deondray said. "It seemed to me that the political consciousness that Macklemore released on this particular issue had less to do with his skin tone and more to do with his socio-politcal message."
"I feel like Hip-Hop was where Rock and Roll was in the 50s and 60s when it was the music of the oppressed, then becoming appropriated music by whites," Quincy said. "I think the fact that Macklemore swept the Grammys has more to do with who's behind the voting than Macklemore."