Gay-rights backers reach out to Bleckley senior - email@example.comGay-rights supporters from across the country are offering to buy everything from boutonnieres to dinner for a Bleckley County High School senior who was granted permission to take his boyfriend to the prom.
At least two supporters have offered to rent a stretch limo for Derrick Martin and his boyfriend.
Martin asked his principal this year if he could take another male to his senior prom, set for April 17.
At first school officials told the 18-year-old that the town of Cochran, with a population of 5,200, wasn’t ready for it.
The high school only had a policy that barred bringing a date older than the age of 21, so school officials subsequently told Martin they granted his request.
Many gay-rights activists are now posting the story on their Facebook pages. And an Atlanta filmmaker said he hopes to document the story.
“I sent flowers to his high school,” said Randi Reitan, a resident of Eden Prairie, Minn., who sent a bouquet of yellow flowers with a rainbow-colored balloon to Bleckley County High on Tuesday to show her support.
“We have a gay son. I wish he could’ve danced with a young man at his prom,” Reitan said.
She also has offered to buy Martin and his date, who is from Tift County, boutonnieres to wear on prom night.
Drew Dowdell from Pittsburgh is setting up a link on his Web site for people to leave donations for Martin to help buy the 18-year-old a limo ride to the prom.
“I want to help Derrick have the best prom he can because I worry that anti-gay people in his school will be doing their best to ruin it for him,” Dowdell said. “I’m proud that he was willing to go to the school to make an issue about it.”
Martin said he got 54 messages Tuesday on Facebook.
“I appreciate it,” he said. “I was speechless that they said they would buy me dinner or buy me a tux in case someone messed mine up.”
But because of the media attention, Martin’s parents have kicked him out and the teen is staying with a friend, he said.
Martin said he pushed to take his boyfriend to the dance after hearing about a girl in Mississippi who asked to take her girlfriend to the prom.
Her school eventually canceled the dance rather than allow them to attend together.
“Maybe (other gay students) will think if Bleckley County will let them, maybe my school will,” Martin said.
School Superintendent Charlotte Pipkin said the move is a first for Bleckley County.
“I’m not aware of it having happened in the past,” she said.
School officials have said they have no plans to cancel or change plans for the prom.