Not a pinup calendar, but a calendar supporting a gay youth
December 13, 2009 11:20 AM   Subscribe

“Help a Brother Out.” Gawker manqué the Awl presents the story of Zack P., a young man who’s out of the closet in Grand Forks, North Dakota. Perhaps needless to say, things aren’t going smoothly for him, particularly after he wrote letters to the editor of the local paper and staged a solo counterprotest of antigay protesters. (Did he lose his housing and job because he was gay? Even if he did, that’s legal in North Dakota.) So: What’s a blog to do in a case like this? Sell a benefit calendar.

Writer Abe Sauer draws a comparison with a contemporary of Zack’s who is, he suggests, unaccountably famous:
Meanwhile, Levi Johnston [previously on MeFi] is a sex symbol (even, inexplicably, a gay one). He has been in pistachio commercials and magazines and on red carpets.... Levi Johnston became a celebrity, and a wealthier man, all because of how much the people who write for these publications hate the woman he is tangentially connected to. (The enemy of my enemy is my intellectually-shameless disposable fetish-object.) [...]

[Zack P.] should be the left’s future. He should be the left’s poster child.... 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.
posted by joeclark (23 comments total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
Well, it's also a pinup calendar.

I wonder if I can get this shipped in by christmas. I've got a friend or two that'd get a kick out of this.
posted by Doublewhiskeycokenoice at 11:30 AM on December 13, 2009

Grand Forks being a college town (UND) one would think that an "out" gay man wouldn't be that much of a shock. Then again off campus it's a smallish town with more than a few military retirees.
posted by MikeMc at 11:32 AM on December 13, 2009

Actually, yes, I guess I downplayed the pinup aspect. I probably shouldn’t have.
posted by joeclark at 11:33 AM on December 13, 2009

Eh, I was just funnin' ya.
posted by Doublewhiskeycokenoice at 11:50 AM on December 13, 2009

Here, I'll save everyone else the trouble; manqué
posted by Keith Talent at 11:54 AM on December 13, 2009 [9 favorites]

Grand Forks being a college town (UND) one would think that an "out" gay man wouldn't be that much of a shock. Then again off campus it's a smallish town with more than a few military retirees.

Living just south of there in Fargo, my gay friends report that it's not really that dangerous to be "out" here, save the occasional surly drunk bar-hick or football player. It is, however, a tiny, tiny dating pool. I know a number of good people living needlessly lonely lives.

Personally, I have no pride in this place and wouldn't wish this state on anyone. Cheers to this guy, but he's pissin' in the wind. ND is fast approaching "most elderly state" status, with all the attendant problems.
posted by fake at 12:07 PM on December 13, 2009

Levi Johnston is not inexplicably famous. He's been grasping for fame and attention ever since he was thrust unwittingly on the national stage. He likely didn't want all this at first, but he realized that he could parlay his infamy into a cash machine, or else someone pointed it out to him. Perhaps someone in the agent business, maybe taking 10% or more of all his takings?

He's undoubtedly got a pretty savvy person working to make him famous. It's not like people were clamoring to see Levi in commercials or in Playgirl. Someone put him there, and I doubt it was Levi himself.

That said, I find it all vaguely repugnant, and I hope that his star is a brief streak against the sky.

I wish all the best to Zack. He's got a tough road ahead of him. I completely support and applaud his decision to stay where he is and to fight for equality there rather than fleeing to "the city" because life could theoretically be easier for him there. Equality is not actually equal if it only counts in the "liberal urban centers", and without men like Zack, it will be generations before places like Grand Forks begin to confront their own bigotry. Bravo!
posted by hippybear at 12:14 PM on December 13, 2009 [7 favorites]

I found the whole idea of The Awl hawking this calendar to be kind of weird.
A line has been crossed, somewhere.
posted by Flashman at 12:53 PM on December 13, 2009

Does anyone else get the kind of weird feeling that the writer of the blog post is trying to put words in Zack's mouth? Not that I'd begrudge him for having a hell of a lot of bitterness about where he lives, but he doesn't really seem to.
posted by roll truck roll at 12:59 PM on December 13, 2009

"The enemy of my enemy is my intellectually-shameless disposable fetish-object." Heh.
posted by johnny novak at 1:16 PM on December 13, 2009

Flashman, I agree somewhat. There is a conditioning among the online elite toward solving real-world problems with some variation of micropayments – PayPalling you five bucks, Amazon-wishlisting you a book, handing you the proceeds of a benefit calendar.

But with the Awl’s writers being mostly in New York, in-person aid to Zack is out of the question. In the olden days there would be little a group of strangers could do for Zack, starting with the complication of making a group of strangers aware of his existence in the first place. (Send SASE for mimeographed newsletter?) We can carry out E-commerce remotely now, at small cost distributed over many people, which allows us to do something even if it isn’t an Amish-style barnraising.

You might also be objecting to the homoerotic tone. I think those objections would be rarer among the Gays (QED).
posted by joeclark at 1:21 PM on December 13, 2009

Anyone who works on classic muscle cars is OK in my book.

I ain't buyin' his calendar, though.
posted by mr_crash_davis mark II: Jazz Odyssey at 1:47 PM on December 13, 2009

Good for them! One problem , though.

North Dakota state bill SB2278, a sexual orientation rights bill which would make it illegal to discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation for employment, housing, and other services. The bill made it all the way through the state Senate before being killed, in April, in the House. from first link

So, to summarize, hot gay men can not be evicted just for being too sexy for their pants.
posted by irisclara at 1:55 PM on December 13, 2009

irisclara: I'm not sure whether you read that statement correctly. The bill was an anti-discrimination bill which never made it into law. Therefore, there is no legal prohibition on evicting someone for being gay. So, the opposite of what you wrote actually is true in North Dakota.
posted by hippybear at 2:02 PM on December 13, 2009 [3 favorites]

Strongly considering moving to North Dakota...
posted by bukharin at 3:02 PM on December 13, 2009

I was born and raised in Bismarck, but haven't been back there in the decade since I graduated high school.

I'm really not regretting it.
posted by Windigo at 3:11 PM on December 13, 2009

OK, I don't want to make this about Levi, but this quote about him is priceless: "Levi Johnston's only accomplishment is displeasing a woman that a bunch of so-called free thinkers are displeased by—and he accomplished that largely by not wearing a condom."

In any case, good on Zack P. and the Awl for making this happen. I like the concept… (and he's indeed a cutie, although I now realize that, as a 31-year-old, I can no longer say that without sounding like a lecher).
posted by LMGM at 3:47 PM on December 13, 2009

oops, sorry. I did read that wrong. Thanks hippybear.
posted by irisclara at 4:15 PM on December 13, 2009

I just learned the word manqué. (but not how to type it without cut/paste)
posted by ctmf at 6:29 PM on December 13, 2009

I'd buy this, but I'm broke, straight (so get no titillation), and our car insurance company already sent us a calendar.
posted by klangklangston at 7:22 PM on December 13, 2009

On Mac: é = alt+e, e
posted by joost de vries at 11:03 PM on December 13, 2009

On windows: alt+0233 = é

With the alt held for all 4 digits then released, and the 0233 on the numpad.

Who says macs have more intuitive user interfaces?
posted by Mike1024 at 12:34 AM on December 14, 2009

That’s great, Mike. Now tell us how to type an acute accent on a capital O. (Hint: Pattern is the same on Mac.) Anyway, we’ve been through this before.
posted by joeclark at 6:11 AM on December 14, 2009

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