The 22-year-old player, who recently came out as the first openly gay NCAA Divison I athlete, was accompanied by Gerald, 47, on the red carpet over the weekend at the 2014 GLAAD Media Awards in New York City.
Gerald tells E! News that they first connected via Twitter a few years ago after Derrick saw him in the indie film BearCity. They finally met in person last month, after the athlete had come out to his family.
“Through the years I’ve encouraged him to lead an authentic life and tried my best to offer as much objective support as possible,” Gerald expressed. “It was a scary time for him and I tried my best to assure him that self-acceptance wasn’t anything to be ashamed of and I strongly suggested he find a support team at UMass.”