Bleckley Teen Gets Support, Criticism for Same-Sex Prom Date

4:56 AM, Mar 25, 2010   |    comments
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Senior Derrick Martin says winning the battle for his rights--the right to bring his boyfriend Richard to prom was a landmark decision in his hometown.

Martin last week got permission to bring his boyfriend to prom.

But he says he never expected the outpouring of support that followed, in the form of phone calls and Facebook messages.

"Just telling me that I'm an inspiration to them, I gave them the courage--and some people are going to try to go to prom with their boyfriend or girlfriend," says Martin. "And that's what everything has been about."

Facebookers even created a support page for Martin, the group reaching nearly 400 members in one day.

But Martin says not all response has been positive.

"I've gotten a couple different phone calls and messages from people saying that I should stop and that I'm bringing bad attention to Bleckley County, but I think it's great attention," Martin says. "It's just us moving forward."

He says it took 3 months of discussion before the school board finally granted him permission.  The superintendent Charlotte Pipkin issued this statement:

"This statement is not an endorsement of any particular practice or lifestyle, but rather recognition of the legal environment in which public schools operate today."

She says district has no rules or policies that would prevent Martin from bringing a male date.

The decision has people around town talking.

"Nothing like this normally happens around here ," says Kristen Smith, a college student in Cochran. "It's kind of a hot topic."

Dakota Lee "I don't think it's right, I wouldn't do it," says Dakota Lee, who lives in nearby Eastman, "But it's up to him."

Martin says the publicity he's gotten, while welcome, has shaken his homelife. He says his parents kicked him out of the house, after the Telegraph ran an article on him.

"It's their house," he says. "It's always been their house--so they can take me or not."

And that's his mindset about going vocal, he says people can accept or reject what he's saying, as long as they're listening.

 "It's the same thing as African Americans wanting their rights," says Martin. "Or any minority wanting their rights. Every person is a human being and they deserve their rights."


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