When a video of Zach Wahls testifying against the Iowa House of Representatives was put on YouTube in Jan. 2011, the engineering major at the University of Iowa at the time became an overnight celebrity.
With the video gaining over 2 million hits, Wahls published “My Two Moms: Lessons of Love, Strength, and What Makes a Family” in April of that year.
Courtesy of the Student Program Board, the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender community activist spoke on Tuesday evening in the Houston Room, sharing his personal life experiences as the son of same-sex parents and gave his opinions on common arguments against gay marriage.
Wahls also spoke on his rise to fame, and about the video and how it ultimately changed his everyday life.
“It’s pretty crazy,” said Wahls
“It’s catching lightning in a bottle without even holding the bottle. It’s been an unbelievable ride, I’m very thankful for that.”
Wahls received a standing ovation in front of an audience of individuals of various sexual orientations.
“I already support the issue that he was speaking about. I thought he was a very affective speaker, very articulate,” said third-year law student Kevin Sherlock.
“His story was very compelling and I think it shows that children who are raised by gay parents are normal and they go through the same type of stuff that children who are raised by straight parents do.”
Wahls blended political rhetoric and personal stories to support his stance in support of gay marriage, a move that many students said impressed them.
“I liked his mixture of both emotional and political thoughts, it wasn’t just one way or the other, he kind of did a well-rounded speech,” said sociology major Christian Smith.
Wahls also hosted a Q-and-A session after the show, answering questions from conservatives, skeptics and those who simply wanted to know more about his home life.
“I also get a lot of people who are perhaps curious, leaning a certain direction,” Wahls said.
“I think I’m a very good messenger for folks in that position, simply because as a straight, cis-gender and very much non-queer guy I can have a conversation about certain areas in a way that is not alienating or frightening or scary.”
While Wahls enjoyed sharing his background with UH and spending time with the community, he doesn’t see it as a long-term ordeal.
“I hope it’s not necessarily for much longer. If this is a job, I’m trying to put myself out of work,” Wahls said.
“I don’t want to be doing this for the rest of my life because I don’t want to live in a world where ten years from now they still need to bring in a guy like me and talk about this stuff.”