In April, Derrick Martin, a gay teen from Cochran, Ga., was asked to leave home after publicity surrounding his decision to take his boyfriend to the high school prom. On July 12, Martin launched Project LifeVEST to help other LGBT people in similar situations.
States the new group’s website: “Our mission is simple: ‘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.’”
Martin is founder and president. The website lists as its board of directors Aaron Fricke, Arturo Beeche, Dave Higdon, Don Martin-Nielson, Leesa Nixon and Russell Phillip.
On the website, Martin reflects on the trauma that came from his decision to take his boyfriend to prom in the small Georgia town.
“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,” Martin says.
“I have a very unique opportunity that I feel I cannot pass up. I have the spotlight needed to establish a name in activism. … That is why I have decided to form an organization dedicated to helping people like me, who are going through hard times because of discrimination,” Martin writes.