Windy City Media Group Frontpage News
Celebrating 30 Years of Gay Lesbian Bisexual and Trans News
home search facebook twitter join
Gay News Sponsor Windy City Times 2019-09-18
DOWNLOAD ISSUE
About WCMG Publications News Index  Entertainment Features Bars & Clubs Calendar Videos Advertisers OUT! Guide    Marriage

Sponsor
Sponsor

  WINDY CITY TIMES

Gay Georgia teen overcomes many hurdles
by Ross Forman
2010-08-11

facebook twitter pin it google +1 reddit email


Derrick Martin starts classes this fall at Georgia Southern University to pursue a law degree, and he's going on a full scholarship after graduating from high school with all honors.

But his final months at Bleckley County High School in Cochran, Ga., were part nightmare, part Hollywood script—and, amazingly, all real.

Let's jump back to the spring, when Martin decided he was going to his senior prom with his boyfriend at the time, Richard Goodman. Martin first told the school's principal and, well, that's when the drama started.

"At first, the school said, 'No,'" Martin said. "My principal told me that Bleckley County was not ready for 'this,' and that I would have to change my date. After some meetings with the superintendent and [ the ] school board, the principal was told that they could not forbid me from taking my boyfriend because there was no mention of this in the handbook."

So Martin and Goodman were prom-bound, all set for the April 17 extravaganza.

"Prom went without a hitch," Martin said. "When we arrived, we were cheered into the building, and no one bothered us all night. We slow danced to a couple songs, and by the end of the night, it was like we were no different from those dancing around us.

"When I [ first ] announced that I was going to take my boyfriend, I got a mixed response. All of my friends were fine with it. In fact, they were extremely proud of me for standing up for myself. However, there was were a few particular social groups in my school that thought what I was doing was wrong, and that I was bringing shame to their town by announcing it, especially on the [ local ] news. I was threatened with things like being paint-balled when I got out of the car at prom, to someone telling me that he had a gun in his car with my name on it. It was a very stressful time in my life.

" [ But, ] from the moment we got out of the car, we were cheered at from everyone at the red-carpet walkthrough. Once inside, we just made sure we were with friends and that we never went anywhere alone, just to be sure no one tried anything stupid. No one bothered us, and we had a great time. We danced all night long, and when we left, I surprised him by blindfolding him and taking him to the beach in Savannah."

Martin and Goodman dated for about a year, but have since broken up.

"We came to an impasse, and felt it was our only choice," Martin said.

Martin was a member of several organizations in high school, including the Future Educators Association, Future Business Leaders Association, Fellowship of Christian Athletes, chorus and drama.

But the drama he endured at home earlier this year was anything but make-believe. It was all-too-real—perhaps surreal.

"I came home the day that I did my first interview with the local paper, and [ my parents ] had already read it," Martin said. "I got home later than usual; I had decided to go eat with a few co-workers after work at a local tutoring facility for at-risk children. When I came in the door, my mother told me, 'You need to move out; get your things and go.'"

Martin, 19, was on his own—because of his parent's objection to his sexual orientation.

"The first few weeks were terrible," Martin said. "I just can not describe the feelings of both abandonment and rejection that were racing through my mind.

"I lived with a really good friend and her family. It was very tumultuous, as I was being contacted by media and countless individuals who wanted to help, but my parents wouldn't even talk to me. It was hard, but it really made me a stronger person."

Martin has, as of mid-July, only spoken with his parents once since he was kicked out—when they informed him that his dog had died.

"My lowest point was the night after my parents kicked me out," Martin said. "I felt so alone, and didn't sleep all that night. GLAAD and all those who contacted me helped me to dig out, by showing me that there were others out there [ who ] wanted to help."

Martin came out late in his sophomore year which, he admits, was dramatic and painful.

"I was kept away from my boyfriend by my parents, and it ended up killing our relationship," he said.

Martin is motivated and driven, a teen with a goal well beyond his ages. This summer, he launched Project LifeVest, and is its president.

"When I first was contacted by an organization that re ally wanted to help, it was GLAAD," Martin said. "They took almost all of the work from me, and allowed me to live the life of a normal teenager, while they handled the media. Then, when I came to California, I was invited to an event where I would be presented with a Courage Award alongside Constance McMillen [ the Mississippi lesbian teen who had her own prom-related issues this past spring ] . It was GLAAD who threw me the life vest that I needed, and it was Lifeworks LA that inspired me to create an organization that does not exist in Georgia where I live.

"Life now is very exciting. I am living with two great friends of mine who took me into their home when I came out to California. Lately, all of my time has been completely devoted to LifeVest, and I am extremely proud of the work that we will be doing."

The mission of Project LifeVest is simple, as stated on its website: "To be a helping hand, a life vest, to as many LGBTQ teens and adults as possible. We will carry out this mission through the establishment of safe places in as many cities as possible; through opening a call center with a qualified and well-educated and experienced team of counselors who can give advice and guidance where needed; through finding qualified and screened families who can, if the need arises, host rejected teens while they finish schooling or find a new place."

Said Martin: "Today's LGBTQ youth have so many pressures to take on. We do have an easier time than the youth of 50 years ago, and times are still changing. I'm just glad to be able to work toward such an amazing goal, standing by others like myself: Constance, Caleb [ Laieski ] , and a few others who are working behind the scenes."

Laieski is a teenager in Arizona who has endured incredible taunts, even death threats, since revealing he was gay. Laieski has since founded Gays and Lesbians United Against Discrimination ( GLUAD ) .

"Derrick Martin's experience in high school is somewhat different than [ mine ] ," Laieski said. "My experience is more bully and harassment based, as his is more discrimination based.

"However, we both share the common experience of homophobia in schools, often cited as 'hatred in the hallways.'

"I applaud Derrick for taking this bold stand in a part of the country, rural Georgia, which is not [ traditionally ] receptive to openly gay people or gay rights. He has brought national attention to bringing same-sex dates to school functions and further put school districts across the country on notice that openly gay teens do attend their schools and, as time goes on, they will no longer accept discrimination. School administrators must modernize their policies accordingly.

"Luckily, Derrick was able to take his boyfriend to the prom. However it cost him his family. Derrick founded his own organization, Project LifeVest. The goals of this organization may seem simple, but really [ are ] one of the top resources that there is a demand for within our community."


facebook twitter pin it google +1 reddit email





Windy City Media Group does not approve or necessarily agree with the views posted below.
Please do not post letters to the editor here. Please also be civil in your dialogue.
If you need to be mean, just know that the longer you stay on this page, the more you help us.


  ARTICLES YOU MIGHT LIKE

Gay News

Township High District 211 board of education to discuss trans students, restrooms 2019-09-19 - PALATINE, Ill. —September 19, 2019— Tonight at their September board meeting, Township High School District 211 board of education will discuss ending their ...


Gay News

Youth auditions for Christmas Carol Sept. 21 2019-09-17 - The Goodman Theatre, 170 N. Dearborn St., is holding youth auditions for A Christmas Carol on Saturday, Sept. 21. In-person registration will be ...


Gay News

Applications out for Illinois High School Musical Theater Awards 2019-08-29 - Broadway In Chicago is inviting high schools throughout the state to participate in the Ninth Annual Illinois High School Musical Theatre Awards. Beginning ...


Gay News

MOMBIAN Pushing for inclusivity in children's books, one publisher shows how 2019-08-21 - Orca Book Publishers of British Columbia, Canada, is an independent publisher with the goal of offering "reading material that represents the diversity of ...


Gay News

Reports: Teen to testify against Aurora church employee 2019-08-20 - A minor alleging that an Aurora area church employee solicited nude photos from them via Snap Chat and text messages will be allowed ...


Gay News

IL Safe Schools Alliance, Public Health Institute of Metropolitan Chicago merge 2019-08-15 - Chicago, IL - After almost a year of integrating operations, the Boards of Directors for Public Health Institute of Metropolitan Chicago ( PHIMC ...


Gay News

Trans ex-student prevails in restroom case 2019-08-11 - In Virginia, U.S. District Judge Arenda Wright Allen ruled Aug. 9 that a school board's transgender bathroom ban discriminated against former student Gavin ...


Gay News

LGBTQ Inclusive Curriculum Bill Approved by Illinois Gov. JB Pritzker 2019-08-09 - Students in Illinois public schools will learn about the contributions of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people in state and national history after ...


Gay News

College student balances LGBTQ+ activism, student life 2019-08-07 - After her semester at a new college, Zaiden Sowle knew she found what was lacking at her previous college. Before, her experience ...


Gay News

Education board chair on pro-trans executive order, agency plans 2019-07-31 - After several years as a University of Chicago ( UChicago ) administrator, former Illinois State Board of Education official Darren Reisberg has returned ...


 



Copyright © 2019 Windy City Media Group. All rights reserved.
Reprint by permission only. PDFs for back issues are downloadable from
our online archives. Single copies of back issues in print form are
available for $4 per issue, older than one month for $6 if available,
by check to the mailing address listed below.

Return postage must accompany all manuscripts, drawings, and
photographs submitted if they are to be returned, and no
responsibility may be assumed for unsolicited materials.
All rights to letters, art and photos sent to Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago
Gay and Lesbian News and Feature Publication) will be treated
as unconditionally assigned for publication purposes and as such,
subject to editing and comment. The opinions expressed by the
columnists, cartoonists, letter writers, and commentators are
their own and do not necessarily reflect the position of Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay,
Lesbian, Bisexual and Transegender News and Feature Publication).

The appearance of a name, image or photo of a person or group in
Nightspots (Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times
(a Chicago Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender News and Feature
Publication) does not indicate the sexual orientation of such
individuals or groups. While we encourage readers to support the
advertisers who make this newspaper possible, Nightspots (Chicago
GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay, Lesbian
News and Feature Publication) cannot accept responsibility for
any advertising claims or promotions.

 

 

 

TRENDINGBREAKINGPHOTOS

Sponsor
Sponsor
Sponsor
Sponsor


 



About WCMG Publications News Index  Entertainment Features Bars & Clubs Calendar Videos Advertisers OUT! Guide    Marriage


About WCMG      Contact Us      Online Front  Page      Windy City  Times      Nightspots      OUT! Guide     
Identity      BLACKlines      En La Vida      Archives      Subscriptions      Distribution      Windy City Queercast     
Queercast Archives      Advertising  Rates      Deadlines      Advanced Search     
Press  Releases      Event Photos      Join WCMG  Email List      Email Blast     
Upcoming Events      Todays Events      Ongoing Events      Post an Event      Bar Guide      Community Groups      In Memoriam      Outguide Categories      Outguide Advertisers      Search Outguide      Travel      Dining Out      Blogs      Spotlight  Video     
Classifieds      Real Estate      Place a  Classified     

Windy City Media Group publishes Windy City Times,
The Bi-Weekly Voice of the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Trans Community.
5315 N. Clark St. #192, Chicago, IL 60640-2113 • PH (773) 871-7610 • FAX (773) 871-7609.