Project Life Vest – A Helping Hand for LGBT Teens…Thanks to Derrick Martin!


This month in the INSTINCT 
they profiled LEADING MEN – 
The Faces of Equality.

Among them was young DERRICK MARTIN.  You may remember his name from the prom controversy that occurred earlier this year…

After asking Bleckley County school officials permission in January to take another boy to the prom, Derrick Martin finally got his  high school to allow it. After a long legal battle.   “I didn’t expect them to say yes. It’s who I am. I have the same rights,” he said. “It’s my senior prom and I wanted to be able to prove not everyone would cancel prom.” Martin was  an honor student who tutored  at-risk elementary and middle school students after school. He also had a full scholarship to college.

He said he knew the move would be controversial for the town of about 5,200 residents. At his high school, prom dates from outside counties must be approved in advance, so Martin went to his principal and asked. “At first she said no, Cochran wasn’t ready for it,” he said. But then eventually, school officials said they have no policy in place against it.”

“When I first decided to go to prom with my boyfriend, I had no idea concerning the turmoil that would engulf in my life.” His family DID NOT like the spotlight shining on them. And they kicked him out of the house! After that he received death threats!

“One day I was living with my parents; the next I had no home. I found myself without much in terms of material possessions and comfort. I had a car; a low paying job with the school; and a few trash bags filled with my clothes and scarce belongings. Luckily for me, a good friend took me into her home. I stayed with her family during the last few months of my senior year in high school. These were very tough times for me. With the exception of my best friend and her family, my boyfriend, and a few other friends, I was alone.”

On his site, he goes on to reveal, “I was very stressed and felt the weight of the world was on my shoulders. It was a living hell. One  afternoon, I got a phone call from GLAAD’s Director of National News. I was told that she would be more than happy to help me in any way possible. She told me that on behalf of GLAAD she was available for as long as needed as my “pr rep.”

GLAAD saved my life. Not in a physical definition, I would have managed without them. However, their support was extremely important at the emotional, social and educational level. If they had not come into my life, my grades would have plummeted and I would have pushed my remaining friends away. The stress had gotten to the point that I was getting daily migraines, and I barely slept. Now that GLAAD was in my life I began feeling better for I knew someone was watching my back. Improvements in my daily life began in earnest. I regained my previous GPA; the headaches stopped; I started sleeping again.


Of course, after GLAAD there were others. The HRC came to ask what I needed and even invited me to Atlanta to one of their yearly galas, and PFLAG hosted a pro-gay rally in my honor. In addition, many individuals came to my rescue when big organizations didn’t. I had innumerable donations from people around the world who wanted not only for me to have a good prom, but to help me start off on the right foot once I graduated. I was taken in by a wonderful family in California over the summer, which will forever be in my heart, and I met some amazingly influential people along the way.


The thing I really want to stress is how I felt those first few days, and that is a feeling of total isolation.

Since then, my life has been like a wild and turbulent ocean. The one thing that I needed the most was a life vest, a way to stay afloat in the wild sea I had been thrown into. GLAAD was that life vest.”

His bravery in face of danger inspired many. And he took matters in his own hand. He created Life Vest , a non-profit group that pledges to support gay youths. “There is a giant need for disadvantaged gay youth like myself. I felt like it was something that needed to be done, and I took care of it,” says Derrick.

Our  mission is simple: “To be a helping hand, a life vest, to as many LGBT 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 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.”

Derrick is in college now, in his first semester in Georgia. He has his sights set on law school in New York or possibly California. His burgeoning activism is now his biggest priority. “LifeVest has become 90% of my life! Truly, my only goal is to help people.”

Please support  this young man and his wonderful group. PROJECT LIFE VEST .

A LifeVest to LGBTQ youths in need.
 Call us anytime, day or night, at   510/725/1408.


Best Gay News Magazine