Over 100 people gathered Friday evening in front of City Hall in Macon, Ga., to pay tribute to Derrick Martin, his boyfriend Richard Goodman, and Deonna Sage.
Martin has made international headlines for his plan to take Goodman as his date to the prom at Bleckley High School in tiny Cochran, Ga. Sage, a drag performer, drew fire from a local radio station after performing at Macon’s recent Cherry Blossom Festival.
At the rally, Kacy Baughier, owner of the Macon variety shop Colors on Cherry for 13 years, spoke of the quiet persistence of the LGBT community in Middle Georgia, adding “we are everywhere.”
Rev. Rhett Baird from High Street Unitarian Universalist Church addressed the crowd, saying that he has been married for 49 years, but that Derrick and Richard “displayed more courage that I have displayed in my 69 years.”
Addressing Sage, he said, “Your work promotes generosity, delight, and an abundance of beauty,” and that with her entertainment she does the important work of educating Middle Georgia.
Tammy Spires of Macon, who identifies as straight, told the crowd, “I have gay friends, and I love them.”
Sage spoke of her childhood, saying “there was only one choice for me, and that was to be myself.” Identifying as a drag queen who lives mostly as a gay male, Sage spoke of a local radio personality and critic of her performance at the Cherry Blossom Festival: “He’s entitled to his opinion” and “I walked the runway with my head held high and Cherry Blosson was a great success.”
Martin spoke of the moment when he first informed his principal that he wanted to attend prom with his boyfriend. At first she said “No” and that “Cochran isn’t ready.” The Bleckley County teen had the last word, however, and his request was approved. The Macon Telegraph reported on his prom plans, and massive media attention followed. His parents asked him to leave home, and he is now living with friends.
Martin’s story has inspired supporters around the country, including the Atlanta Gay Men’s Chorus, which named him an honorary member.
Through this experience, Martin said at the rally that he has received $5,000 for college, living expenses, and the prom. One of his benefactors, Arturo, called in by telephone and explained that he left Puerto Rico when he was 20 to avoid an arranged marriage, and arrived in California to start a new life. Arturo was inspired by Derrick and his boyfriend and offered financial assistance to ease his transition into college.
Derrick, for his part, pledged to donate 10 percent to PFLAG of Macon. He said he “just went to Men’s Warehouse and got the tuxes.”
Martin noted that PFLAG’s Edric Floyd, a key organizer of the event, was with him from the beginning working with him in Cochran and Macon.
Editors’ note: Jamie Roberts, a public defender who was just named one the Advocate’s “40 under 40” this week, attended the April 9 rally in Macon for Derrick Martin. She joined the rally representing Georgia Equality, where she is a board member, and wrote this summary of the event for the Georgia Voice.
Top photo: The crowd at the Macon rally
Second photo: Derrick Martin addresses the Macon rally