In the week since a Georgia teen announced plans to attend the senior prom with his boyfriend, he has faced mixed reaction from his community, from being kicked out of his parent’s home, to the subject of death threats and a student protest.
But that has not deterred Derrick Martin, 18, of Cochran, GA, from his plans to attend Bleckley County High School’s prom with Richard Goodman, 18, as his date.
Since news of his prom plans brought national attention to Cochran, Martin’s been subjected to more than just the typical “queer” and “faggot” slurs he’s become accustomed to, being an openly gay teen in a small town.
“Someone tole me that I needed to look out where I went because they had a gun in their car just for me,” Martin told LGBTQ Nation. He said he is looking into private security options and is taking precautions to ensure his safety.
And late last week, a small Martin attended a small protest rally staged at the courthouse by students up of Bleckley County High School. When he arrived, Martin said that the event’s main organizer, senior Amber Duskin, “came over to me and asked me if I was there to support, being sarcastic.”
The rally “wasn’t a totally bad experience,” Martin told LGBTQ Nation. “Although it felt like I was talking to a brick wall, and walking into the lions den.”
Duskin has asked the high school to return her prom ticket money and does not plan to attend because of Martin.
The reaction has not been completely negative, however. On Friday, Derrick attended the Atlanta Gay Men’s Chorus spring concert, and was made an honorary member of the group. And a Facebook group, organized by PFLAG Macon, has set up a PayPal account for supporters interested in helping Martin with prom, housing and security expenses.
He said he has also been contacted by producers of The Ellen DeGeneres Show, who expressed their support, but an upcoming appearance has not yet been confirmed.
In the meantime, Martin is still living with a friend and her family since being kicked out of his parent’s home last week.
“I haven’t talked to my family much. My dad still calls every now and then, other than that there’s no change,” Martin told LGBTQ Nation on Monday.
Martin and Goodman are looking forward to spending the weekend together, admitting the media attention and interfered with their time together.
“We haven’t been able to talk as much as either one of us would prefer,” Martin said. “But I am taking this upcoming weekend to spend all my time with him.”
Goodman, who lives in Tifton, 85 miles south of Cochran, has been taking Martin’s notoriety in stride, “All my friends love it, they have told me that we should go to my prom as well,” he said.
Bleckley County High School’s prom is scheduled for April 17.