Today’s Video Story was collected on the 50-state Story Tour. Check out the blog where you can follow us on our adventure. We met Zack Petrick in Grand Forks, North Dakota. If you haven’t submitted a story yet to IFD, or if you want to submit another one, I’d love to read and publish it. Write one up and send it in.
I’m Zack Patrick. I am from Grand Forks, North Dakota. And right before my 21st birthday North Dakota was going through Senate Bill 2278 which would have banned discrimination in the work place and in housing. And I had come out to my parents. I’d come out to my friends. I got to the point where I was so bitter about not being able to be who I am. For the fear of losing my job I had a relationship fall apart because he was out, I wasn’t. And it wasn’t fair to him and it just didn’t last. So I decided that okay, this bill is going to pass, and I can be out and the world will be fine, and then the bill got defeated. And I read it in the paper at work the next day and it was like somebody had just, you know, took a knife to the heart. After that, I decided that I’m going to write an editorial about it and I’m going to send it in to the paper. It was short, and concise and to the point. And I sent it in, and I was so nervous about it that I called the editor and he talked to me and said, “Are you sure you want to do this? Is this what you want to do?” At that point I decide that I’m going to be out, I’m going to be who I am. And sure enough they published it on my 21st birthday. And uh, my boss at my other job didn’t care, he said, “Doesn’t bother me. Makes no difference.” But my one job, they did have a problem with it and they called special meetings to discuss whether or not I could still be employed there and I got harassed. I had people, you know, bothering me. I’d walk down the hallway and people’d be whispering stuff. Pointing at me, laugh, and make jokes. Eventually, I think it was five months later there was a note stuck to my door saying, “You have 30 days to vacate the premises. You are no longer employed here.” I knew it was a real possibility that I would lose my job and that I would get fired. I take my share of responsibility for what had happened there cause I knew that was more of a probability than anything. I knew it was probably going to happen. But once it actually happened, then because it was months down the line, it was a lot more of a shock than anything, cause I thought things were good, I thought everything was getting done, I was doing good at my job, and everybody seemed really happy. And then all of a sudden, out of the blue, to be fired. And, I knew that I was gay, and in North Dakota and there would be people that would have an issue with it, and there would be people would hate me because of it. But you know in the end that the majority of those people are cowards and they’re not, they’re real big behind a keyboard, they’re real big when they’re sending stuff in to the paper, but in person, they’re not, they’re blending in with the crowd. They’re not going to come out, they’re not going to call you out. So, in the end, I think I made somewhat of a difference. Even though it didn’t pan out quite the way I expected. It still worked out well because, I’m Zack, I’m gay, and my friends and my family know it and everyone accepts me for it. And I don’t have to worry about living some kind of secret, or some kind of lie. I’ve made a lot of friends because of it. And, I am who I am.