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Gay teen launches outreach program for LGBTQ youth facing discrimination

Gay teen launches outreach program for LGBTQ youth facing discrimination
Derrick Martin was presented with the Courage Award on June 12, 2010, from LifeWorks, the L.A. Gay and Lesbian Center’s youth mentoring program.

The gay Georgia teen who who decided to take his boyfriend to high school prom earlier this year, and was subsequently kicked out of his parent’s home, launched an outreach organization on Monday to help LGBTQ youth.

“Thanks to the kindness of strangers, I survived abandonment for the ‘crime’ of being gay and young,” said Derrick Martin, 18, in announcing the creation of Project LifeVest, an organization to assist teens who are in situations similar to his — facing abandonment, abuse, or discrimination because of their sexual orientation or gender identity.

“My situation and the attention it has drawn have provided me a unique perspective and opportunity that I feel I cannot pass up”, Martin said.

“Young people who, like myself, have been disadvantaged because of discrimination, hate, or ignorance need somewhere to turn for help. GLAAD was my life vest, and I plan to be a life vest to as many others as I can. I only want those who face obstacles like mine to know that they are not alone, for everyone has the right to love regardless of sexual orientation.”

In March, Martin won the approval of his school to take his then-boyfriend, Richard Goodman, to the senior prom at Bleckley County High School in Cochran, GA. His parents disapproved, and kicked him out of the family home; some classmates protested, and Martin became the object of death threats.

But when Martin’s story made national headlines, gay rights supporters from around the country came to his aid. He and Goodman attended the prom on April 17 without incident.

“If I have anything to say about it, no one else will ever have to go through what I did. Project LifeVest is my ‘give back’ for the critical help caring people around the country extended to me when I needed it.”

Martin told LGBTQ Nation that Project LifeVest is being launched using his life savings, but has plans to seek funding; the organization is also accepting donations at its website.

Martin also plans to attend Georgia Southern University in August, where he will study pre-law.

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