Scholar Class – 2011
Throughout childhood and adolescence, Derrick Miller-Handley endured vicious anti-gay bullying and violence every day in his neighborhood and at school. Expressing that experience through his art helped Derrick to survive persistent isolation, hopelessness, and thoughts of suicide. At 15, a hate-incident outside of the school library finally compelled Derrick to speak out after 10 years of silent torment. At that moment, the need to make change replaced the need to simply survive and Derrick has been dedicated to fostering justice ever since.
As a community-worker and activist, Derrick has been affiliated with numerous communities and organizations around the country, including GLSEN, Groundspark, NCLR, Community United Against Violence and the California Safe Schools Coalition. As the first Youth Activities Coordinator for the Pacific Center, an LGBT community center in Berkeley, he helped to design and launch the center’s LOUD Youth Program. At Ally Action, he led efforts to implement California’s LGBT safe-schools legislation in conservative school communities of the San Francisco East Bay. Most recently, Derrick’s work at LYRIC, a center for queer youth in San Francisco, has allowed him to mentor and develop leadership among future generations of queer youth and allies.
Derrick is thrilled to finally be pursuing a formal fine arts education, a childhood dream. Studying Graphic Design has allowed him to re-discover who he is as a creative thinker and visual problem solver. With visual messages becoming an increasingly global vernacular, the influence of art and design to shape our world is also increasing. For Derrick, placing this power in the hands of the people affected most by it is where his creative passions meet his passion for justice.