The desks were situated in a circle and students spoke one after another in Vivian Tseng’s psychology class at California State University, Northridge. She was very open to allowing her students to communicate freely and participate in class. There was this feeling of unity and comfort — so much so that when it was Quincy LeNear’s time to speak, he felt free enough to reveal something he hadn’t been public with.
LeNear ’04 (Psychology) told the class he was gay.
“They were shocked,” LeNear said. “But it really elevated the conversation and allowed everyone to be extremely open. And those people are still our friends to this day.”
Deondray Gossett ’04 (Psychology), sitting in the same circle, waited his turn to speak.
“It was Quincy’s turn first in the circle, but he didn’t know it was my plan [to come out] when it was my turn,” Gossett said. “When he did it I think I got extra permission, to be honest. … It was a while till it was my turn. A couple of other students went and everybody was reeling form Quincy’s revelation. I basically punctuated his honesty with, ‘Oh and I’m the guy he’s in the relationship with.”
LeNear and Gossett, who came out in class at CSUN in 2004, went on to become multi-award winning filmmakers and inspirational figures who were recognized in 2013 by BET as one of the most famous couples in the LGBT community. The couple has been a prolific creative force, producing a variety of television series including Randy Jackson’s America’s Best Dance Crew (MTV), The Sing Off(NBCUniversal), Make Your Mark Shake It Up Danceoff (The Disney Channel), Face Off (SyFy), Family Dance Off (ABC), and The Comedy Central Roast of Justin Bieber. In 2007, their careers took off with The DL Chronicles, which they created and directed. The series, about gay men who were living a double life, won the GLAAD Media Award in 2008 for Outstanding Television Anthology. LeNear and Gossett also started their own production company, 2 Cents Productions.
Both credit their experience at CSUN for restoring their confidence at a time when they needed a jolt in their lives. Gossett, who is from the South Los Angeles, left CSUN to pursue an acting career. He eventually returned to CSUN to pursue a degree in psychology. LeNear, originally from Chicago, pursued an acting career right out of high school and didn’t start college until he was in his mid-20s.
They chose to pursue psychology because of a mutual interest in understanding human behavior and thought. Though their pursuit of a career in entertainment wasn’t completely shelved, LeNear admits that when he was at CSUN he felt disillusioned with the entertainment industry and lost some hope for it. For as hard as he worked, he didn’t feel he was getting the rewards.
“Going to school, for some reason, helped me regain the confidence I once had,” LeNear said. “In school, if I studied, I got the grade. If I got the grade, I got the award. It was a direct correlation between effort and work and reward that I really needed, and I didn’t realize I needed that when I got in school.”
LeNear said CSUN also exposed him to a diverse, open community that allowed he and Gossett to expand their world, their views and gave them comfort in who they were. There was a fear from both when they came out that they would lose relationships that they worked so hard to form and maintain. But at the moment in class when they opened up, their truth was more important. Both say that many of the people in that class are still their friends to this day.
But it was more than just that one experience Gossett finds special and memorable about his time at CSUN.
“We still visit that campus to reminisce,” Gossett said. “Sometimes we go there for no other reason other than to see our old stomping grounds. CSUN has made a big impact on my life — not just my romantic life, but my personal life. Everything that I do and say and my philosophy is based off the things I learned there.”
At the Grammy Awards in 2014, LeNear and Gossett were one of 33 couples married onstage during a musical medley performed by Macklemore, Ryan Lewis and Madonna. Queen Latifah officiated the joint ceremony. They are currently in the process of creating their own full-range TV and film company and have produced two more TV Series — The DL Chronicles RETURNS and The Chadwick Chronicles. They’re pretty busy at the moment.
They say that just as much as the education, the confidence they gained from CSUN played a significant role in their future successes. And confidence, it appears, can launch one — make that two, very far.