I’m From Grand Forks, ND – Video Story.

by zack petrick

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.


  1. If you don’t mind Zack, I really think you need to name that company. Those of us that choose not to do business with people like them need to know who they are. If that’s how they want to be, they need to know that there are consequences to discrimination.

  2. Zack – Your video really touched me. Not because it was sad, but precisely because it wasn’t. Unlike so many stories of tribulation and despair we hear today (and which are, unfortunately, also true), your story was something else: the story of a self-aware, intelligent and courageous man who stood up for himself (and consequently others) and staked claim to his life. I don’t know you, but, as a gay man who grew up in rural Iowa, can I just tell you how proud I am of you and how uplifting and gratifying it is to know that there are people like you out there. Take care of yourself and enjoy your life.

  3. Very proud of you, I could not have asked for a better son.

  4. Since Senate Bill 2278 did not pass, my partner and I have not been back to my hometown of Bismarck, ND. Zach — you know you did nothing wrong, and that this is absolute discrimination. As you mentioned, you have friends who care for you because of your honesty. Love you for who you are!

  5. I can’t believe that sort of discrimination is still legal in a ‘developed’ country. I mean, I highly doubt that your orientation would affect the work you do, so to be fired for it? That’s disgusting. Very courageous of you to stand up for yourself and deal with the consequences. I love the fact that these people couldn’t destroy you. Good for you.

  6. Zack…. Those people who fired you did you a favor. You don’t need to hang around those people anyway and this will make you stronger for your experience. And no doubt they will each grow into their own awareness that what they did was wrong. Each of them will come to this in their own time. And you, we, all of us gay people coming out are changing the world by pishing back one person at a time. Thank you for coming out at 21.

  7. Zach!

    All I could say is bravo! Your family should be extremely proud of you, they raised you well.

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