North Dakota’s Newest Pin-up Gay


The boys over at The Awl have put together a benefit calendar for a 21-year-old North Dakotan gay activist named Zack:

"Zack P. is not from an out-of-touch family that is famous or rich or of
political royalty. He is not a pointy-headed elitist coaster who knows
what’s best for everyone. He carries no baggage from the 1960s. He’s
young. He’s a hard-working guy from Middle America and he gets down and
dirty politically and risks his neck for what he believes in. He
should be the left’s future. He should be the left’s poster child, its
goddamn sex symbol—not some actor who happens to lend his good looks to
whatever 'awareness' campaign is hot. Zack is not the future America
deserves but he's the one it needs. Zack should be one of this pitiful
nation’s sexiest people."

Read more about it here.


  1. JauntyJohn says

    “…pointy headed elitist coaster…” Wow. And apparently he’s not above sounding a lot like Fox News when it suits him, too.
    Cute, but … what’s with all the creepy anti-this-that rhetoric?

  2. ant says

    Zack P did not write that quote. the guys who wrote it (follow the “here” link in this post – worth the read) are reacting to the hooha about Levi Johnston. they do have a point, tho as a pointy-headed elitist coaster i think it could have been said differently. but kudos to Zack for his activism (and his pure plains hotness.)

  3. Marty says

    By all means let’s make this “pitiful” nation even more pitiful by rallying around some midwestern grease ball with little to no education who thinks drinking beer and working in a garage makes him butch.


  4. BVC says

    Even though I question the rather crude way they expressed it, I do think the author’s take on this subject is valid. Basically gays in the US are a mixed bag from all walks of life, creed, color, class and profession. Yet the media and much of America just see us as plastic prissy over-sexed queers that do their hair or decorate living rooms. The more the people of this nation see us as the multi-faceted complex group that we really are the more they will be able to relate to us, and accept us.

    And top of that, the less reliant we are on politically motivated Gay interest groups the better. We as a group need to start uniting together under more “grass roots” organizations if we want to start creating effective change. We need to change the minds of our neighbors rather than some out-of-touch politician sitting on Capital Hill. Zack (and all of us really) really is the new face of our movement.

  5. Henry Holland says

    I love the whole “Real American” bullshit at that site. North Dakota is the #2 welfare state in the country behind DC, getting $2.03 for every $1 in taxes it gives to the feds. Meanwhile, in that pointy-head coastal elitist enclave that I live in, California, we get only 81 cents on the dollar. Woo hoo! Salt of the earth Upper Plains folks!

    So, I guess welfare queens aren’t black women who go buy liquor in their limos, it’s dudes working in car repair.

    I also love the “I want government to stay out of my life” crap, yeah, the next time your dreary fucking hellhole is flooded, I want you SD’ers to refuse federal help. And who does the guy that wrote that profile think is going to give the mo’s living there any protection? Focus on the Family?

  6. says

    Here’s a positive story about a young, hard-working mid-western guy who – despite a few challenges – still stands up for what he believes…..and y’all still snark at him for something he didn’t write?


    Sometimes I feel I should just stop reading the comments made by the Towle-“troll” commentators….but then hey! That would mean you bitches won.

    No way.

    This brown Jamaican bitch is here to make sure you don’t sour a good thing for the rest of us.

  7. Glenn says

    Henry, buddy, chill a bit. I think you have to have been reading The Awl for a while to sort of get the spirit in which those comments were intended. The whole point of the write-up is that, in contrast to Levi Johnston, who gets tons of press for doing basically nothing (and I don’t begrudge him that, mind you), this kid is actually out, proud, and fighting for his rights in a place where it ain’t easy to do so. And he’s every bit as cute, to boot!

    Anyway… even if you don’t like Abe’s snarky commentary, it’s not Zack’s fault.

  8. Frozen North says

    @ BVC “Zack (and all of us really) really is the new face of our movement.”

    Seriously?! Cute, young white twinks are the NEW face of our movement? Funny, I thought they were the face of the old movement.


    That copy, if it’s not being ironic, says a lot more about the author’s biases than anything else.

  9. Chitown Kev says

    I tell you one thing, you prissy spoiled coastal queens that think you’re the salt of the gay goddamned earth wouldn’t want to get into a fight with one of us Midwestern queens. And we do act like we have some common goddamned sense.

  10. DR says

    Tell you what, even as snarky as the blog is, it’s absolutely 100% correct. Gay leadership in this country is absolutely elitist… ifg you don’t look a certain way, make a certain income, have the right connections, and just the right PC attitude, you’re not welcome. And yet here we have a kid taking chances and doing what he can where he can.

    And the author is also right. Gays around the country swoon over some guy whose claim to fame is knocking up a VP candidate’s kid and then posing nude for Playgirl, and yet this young man, who isn’t looking for 15 minutes of fame based on unsafe sex and his pecs, is getting slammed by some of you.

    I’d take Zach over half the crap I see being put out there as “gay role models” and “gay icons” any day.

  11. Larry says

    Are we really carrying on about this? We’re criticizing whether someone like Zack should get support for being out and proud and doing something to advance the community, but we’re rallying around Adam Lambert? Really?

  12. Nathanial says

    Wow. Some’a you über-touchy, defensive “coastal queens” need to get back on your meds (or possibly cut back on them?) Coming from a similar location originally, I think Zack is a hell of an inspiration, standing up for himself (and others) in a place where it ain’t that easy to do. I’d be happy to do what I can to help out a guy like that.

  13. Henry Holland says

    “Anyway… even if you don’t like Abe’s snarky commentary, it’s not Zack’s fault”

    Um, it sure as hell is. We’re supposed to look up to this kid and I do admire him for what he does but his douchebag publicist, aka Gabe @ The Awl, undercuts any sympathy I have for him. I get that he was doing a compare and contrast between Levi and Zack, but, really, like JauntyJohn noted in the first comment, “pointy-headed coastal elites” is right out of the Beck/Hannity/O’Lielly playbook. It’s that whole “This kid is from the middle of nowhere, he’s defacto superior to people born in Manhattan and Santa Monica” attitude. Um, no.

    “you prissy spoiled coastal queens that think you’re the salt of the gay goddamned earth wouldn’t want to get into a fight with one of us Midwestern queens”

    Ooooohhhhh, look at her, all butch and stuff! I’ve got news for you CHITOWN Kev, assuming you live in the 3rd largest city in the country like your handle implies, I’m not buying that “Aw shucks, I’m just a down-to-earth ranch hand” bullshit. You live in Chicago, you’re just as much an elite as anyone living in the NE Corridor or coastal California. Sorry.

    “Gays around the country swoon over some guy”

    Just because Andy posts almost as much as about Levi as he does fugly Jake Gyllenhaal doesn’t mean the rest of us give a damn. Really.

    “Welfare in the northern plains is largely for Indian reservations. The rest get farm subsidies”

    Sorry, I worded that badly. I shouldn’t have used the word “welfare”, the stat I cited is simply how much a state sends to the feds in taxes vs. how much the feds send back, it doesn’t matter if it’s welfare or farm subsidies. Here’s where I got my info from:

    Hmmmm…..notice something? Those salf-of-the-earth Midwesteners, you know those rough hewn manly men who don’t rely on anyone nohow but get by because they’re superior to us Coastal Elites, they’re fucking whores, taking in more federal money than they pay out.

  14. JauntyJohn says

    I have a broad sense of humor and can roll with the snark (boring though a lot of it is now) as well as anyone. Point well taken that the kid didn’t write the copy — and he’s cute and a laudable guy.
    The copy just seems weirdly, needlessly divisive is all. Pointing that out is hardly being sensitive. Kid deserves his props, but hold someone up on their merits, not as a platform for snide commentary. The Levi hooplah is not about someone being a role model, it’s about the culture’s obsession with seeing famous guy’s dicks.

  15. Kyle Sullivan says

    The impression I get from half the comments on this page is — Awl is abso-fucking-lutely correct and some of the more loud-mouthed queens don’t like to be snarked at. Well, bitches, if you can’t handle it…

    This kid’s message — one he did not write — is simple. “I’m here. I’m queer. What’s the problem with that?” And he’s doing it from an enclave of outright homophobia, where he’s probably been fired for being who he is. Happens all the time so what’s the big deal, right?

    He’s ten times more the face of American gay than those queens on “Will and Grace” ever could have been and a hundred times more meaningful to the gay movement in this country than the metro-homos who run GLAAD and HRC and who’ve helped us take major steps backwards in our march for civil rights.

    So STFU. Buy the calendar — each sale sends $6 to Zach, which is probably all he was being paid an hour at either of the jobs he lost. Support him and save your cracks for the egotistical idiots who claim to be the face of American gay. They deserve the criticism; Zack doesn’t.

  16. Chitown Kev says

    Actually, I live just north of Chicago. And I was born and raised in Detroit (Lord knows I couldn’t wait to leave there!)

    But yes, there is a distinctive “coastal” way of prissiness and “it’s all about me” that doesn’t fly in Chicago. Yes, you’re correct about the “elite” nature of Chicago to an extent, but it’s nothing like what I hear from the mouths of the coastals and it’s irritating.

    I get along waaaaay better with gays (or straights, of whatever background) from, say, Minneapolis or Cleveland or St. Louis or Iowa than I do with the LA’s girls, the Frisco queens, and some of the the New Yorkers.

  17. Rowan says

    @ Henry Holland

    Wooah. I gave you the benefit of the doubt. Went to read the piece and don’t know why you’re being so mean.

    He DOES work. He got sacked from his previous job because he was gay. He organises f*igging protests in North Dakota! What do YOU do?

    What an odd fellow you are…

  18. Jeff says

    Jesus, some of the commenters on this site are seriously mental. I understand if you don’t like The Awl’s brand of humor, but why all the venom for the poor kid? He’s trying to make it work in the place where he was raised. I’d love to live in Alabama, but I live in NYC because I’m frankly not up for the challenge of attempting to change hearts and minds every time I leave the fucking house. I save it for holidays now. So the writer made a joke about coasters– IT’S VALID, if not merely for the fact that people assume that he should want to move just because he’s from a state that gets a disproportionate amount of federal funding yet is populated with fiscal conservatives. You don’t love your home for its state politics. You love it because it’s home.

  19. Connor says

    Wow. Hate much?

    I know Zack and he’s a great guy. He’s very enthusiastic about raising visibility and protesting anti-gay organizations up here in North Dakota. I don’t think the author of the article really hates ‘elitist coasters.’ He’s using hyperbole to highlight the reality of being gay in North Dakota. I lived in California for 4 years and it’s quite a bit tougher to be out in ND.

    Zack is not our savior or poster boy, but he’s a damn good, hard-working example. And super hot too, ha ha. Hotter in person even.

  20. Connor says

    Oh yeah. About the welfare bit, the vast majority of that goes to reservations. Most non-reservation people in North Dakota are very much against the magnitude of welfare going to American Indians. (that’s a whole different subject and I’m not expressing an opinion on it, ha ha!!!) The support for all that welfare really comes from the liberals of the area, actually…

  21. TANK says

    Yeah, henry holland…change those crazypants!

    Most of you piss mops criticizing this kid and admittedly douchey hack’s (which wasn’t the guy pictured) rant are the ones fueling the johnston media circus–it. The kid seems just fine, and the writer has a point…I guess. SO buy a calender and stfu, coaster elites! And to that…barb, since when is it elitist to use coasters to protect the finish on furniture from water stains? Jeez…talk about a reach. Or, go on one of those cam sites, and see more of him than the…lol

  22. says

    First of all, thank you to the site for giving Zack (and by extension, the ND situation) the credit it deserves.

    Regarding the “pointy-headed coaster” thing. I was lampooning the whole left (not just the gay movement) for a tendency to not get widely involved as activists in the “red” states (as they did during “the” Civil Rights movements a generation ago). Now it’s more of an engagement-from-afar civil rights support (i.e., few non-gay students/activists travel en-mass to support gay movements in repressive states as non-black students/activists did a generation ago.) AND, I was (maybe poorly) referring to how the reactionary right characterizes support on the left ad how Zack is an antidote to this characterization.

    I am buoyed by he support here though. Zack deserves it. He’s not saint. But he is a good person.

    But what is even more perplexing to me is that, today, media seems more focused what states are or are not allowing gay marriage when the whole idea of the kind of civil right discrimination-protections for fundamental work/home issues is still very contentious. Gay marriage? Fuck. That’s great but what about basic constitutional rights to individual happiness (and protection) that STILL don’t exist in many, many states.

  23. jessejames says

    Will some of that money we’re being asked to send be used for hot bath water?

    I could get behind that, being an elitist east coaster.

    Seriously, I wish him well, I hope he makes a difference, even after The Awl gets tired of him and moves on.

  24. Matt says

    @Abe Sauer- I live in Indiana and I have been screaming that for a minute, marriage is really putting the cart before the horse in a decent amount of states (including this one where I could be evicted tomorrow for being gay or if I were not gay but my landlord thought I was)

    My big point is the blurb from the Awl is basically adding some of that “real america” crap to the same problem in the gay lib movement, basically the younger, whiter, male-r, and cuter you are the more clout you have. Why does this guy have to be sexually desirable to be worthwhile? If we just needed a benefit calendar why not pick any hot queer we could find, there’s enough of them. I’m sure the Awl wouldn’t be suggesting he be the poster boy if he had a cleft lip or had about 40 more lbs on him like the rest of the “real america” :b

    ~A pointy-headed midwesterner with and advanced degree and an opinion

  25. Blake says

    “My big point is the blurb from the Awl is basically adding some of that “real america” crap to the same problem in the gay lib movement, basically the younger, whiter, male-r, and cuter you are the more clout you have. Why does this guy have to be sexually desirable to be worthwhile?”

    Yeah, too bad no one is saying any of that shit then huh? Why don’t stop being such a self-indulgent whiny cunt and go spend some more time furiously beating yourself off over your framed “advanced degree”. This is a 21 year old kid in the middle of shithole nowhere doing something so brave it makes me feel ashamed just to share the same state of residence as him. If you can’t find something good to say about this guy or what he is doing for gay people in ND, kindly take this warm holiday invitation to go fuck yourself with a chainsaw. Have a nice day :) douche.

  26. Matt says

    Sorry if I wasn’t clear- didn’t say anything negative about him, just wondering about the criteria gay ppl (gay media in specific) use to determine someone’s worth. Hadn’t heard anything about him til he showed some skin, all his clothed (and probably bundled up) activities previously had been pretty under the radar.

  27. says

    Matt: It’s a fair point. But if i would have found a less attractive guy as the sole protest of a 1000-person tea party, it might have been different. But Zack was the ONLY one there. That’s where it all started and I ran an article featuring him an at that time didn’t even know that he was gay. So…

  28. Matt says

    Touché- at least it’s nice to find someone else that understands marriage equality is a little advanced considering that a lot of ppl in the US don’t have basic discrimination protection

  29. Ricco says

    Wow!! It is truly amazing the different things people can garner from the same story. Everyday gays prove that they are as stupid, intolerant, mean-spirited, and ugly as the people who would deny them their civil rights.

    We have a beautiful young man in Zack P., quite ordinary in his physical being, quite extraordinary in his courage, his tenacity, to be out and pro-active for LGBT rights in a particularly dangerous part of this toxic nation, some like to call a free nation; and there are those who would denigrate and dismiss this sexy, intelligent, brave young man?


    It is so difficult to cover ground in our fight for civil rights when we have gays who align themselves with the gay-hating right, and when we have gays, whatever their political affiliations who are so willing to disparage a hard-working young man, almost a kid, who is five times the man than the idiots who put him down.

    Buy this mans calendar. Help a brother out. Drop him a line and let hm know that he is not alone in his fight. For Gods sake . . . grow up . . . grow a heart!!

  30. Bear says

    I’m almost always amazed, though I should not be, at the way most posters on this site react to any news item. Here we have an item of interest from a state that does not have a large metropolitan city with a major “Gay” district. Here is just an everyday average American kid who happens to be gay in today’s society. He because he does not wish to hide, as many kids are forced to do, has come out and presented himself so other kids like him can see that they are not alone. Yet as always I see, generally from those in large metro gay areas, comments that are unkind. Instead of damning him for his courage place yourself in a situation like his. What would you do?

    I live in northeastern Florida and because of the rural region in which I reside there is nothing for teens to do. This County is one of the largest land wise yet one of the smallest in population, and poorest. There are no sizeable towns for over an hours travel in any direction. No movie theatres, no bowling alleys, no skating rinks, nothing. And yet we do have gay kids. Red-necks, yes. Yet I have discovered that some of the gays are also rednecks as city dwellers would refer to them. They work on cars, trucks, tractors and get greasy. The reason I state this is that in all of my travels around this country one thing remains constant. Not spoken loudly but it is always there. Kids in the rural areas are more accepting of their gay neighbors, friends and/or relatives than city kids.

    It is only the churches and the intervention from outside that causes kids as they grow older to turn against their former friends, relatives and neighbors because they are taught by the churches and outsiders to treat people of differences badly. And here on this Towleroad site I see so many self-righteous gays damning a kid from rural America for doing what they themselves had not the courage to do. This kid has just said he is gay, he is not showing his private parts or having public sex. Take off your makeup and dresses and just be a man. Who gives a crap who you sleep with behind closed doors, in the bedroom where it belongs not on the street. Be human!

  31. Philip Wester says

    Why did the author of that piece not only mention and link to Focus on the Family’s website and one of their many lie-filled articles but also promote it as a “must-read report”?

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