LGBT rights advocate and author of My Two Moms
Photo credit: Leslie Von Pless
About Zach Wahls
When 19-year old engineering student Zach Wahls got up to testify before the Iowa House of Representatives in February 2011, he had no idea what was in store for him. He spoke briefly and directly about his family and why he believes same-sex marriage, legal in Iowa since 2009, should remain protected by his state’s constitution. Video footage of his testimony immediately found its way onto Facebook where it was posted and reposted on hundreds of pages. By the next day, without his knowledge, Zach’s words and image had been uploaded onto YouTube and he’d become a national topic—over 1.5 million viewers within ten days.
Soon the polite and thoughtful sixth-generation Iowan was invited for appearances on MSNBC, CNN and The Ellen DeGeneres Show. MoveOn.org featured his testimony video which would go on to become the most-watched political video of the entire year, generating even more hits than President Obama’s address to the White House Correspondents’ Dinner and Governor Rick Perry’s campaign launch. Google listed 18 million viewings by mid-December.
Energized by his new, and astoundingly sudden, emergence as a national advocate for marriage equality, Zach has continued speaking and is now writing My Two Moms about his life growing up with two lesbian parents. As he told Iowa legislators, he and his sister and their moms are, first and foremost, a family like any other, “eating dinner together, going to church” and defined by “the love we bear for each other.” For college audiences, he offers his insight into the challenges facing the LGBT community and explores the nature of family and what it means for the millennial generation. In professional settings, his presentation examines the relationship between the business community and LGBT communities and humanizes an issue too often lost in fogs of rhetoric and preconceived notions. He’s been described as someone “beyond his years” with a distinct grace for “moving others beyond theirs.” As Angie Akers, MoveOn Media editor-in-chief, notes about Zach, now and then someone comes along who is so “even-tempered and clearheaded” he can take a subject tied in knots and “just kind of cut right through.”
The Challenges Facing the LGBT Community
The Nature of Family and What It Means for the Millennial Generation
The Relationship Between the Business Community and the LGBT Community
Praise for Zach Wahls
I was extremely impressed with Zach–first was his YouTube video which brought him recognition and the invitation to speak at GE, but then again in person Zach was even more impressive. The way he approached a topic that many find to be sensitive was very eye-opening and interesting but also very genuine and authentic. It was very uplifting to see the interest that was generated from his visit and the attention that was paid to his message. I hope to hear a lot more of what Zach has to share with us.— Carmen Dolan, Human Resources Manager, General Electric
Zach is beyond his years and has a gift at moving others beyond theirs.— Joe Colburn, Human Resources Leader, General Electric
Zach spoke at Marshfield High School about tolerance and bullying. He is an excellent speaker who addressed these subjects while talking about his experience growing up in a family with same sex parents. He answered students’ questions with insight and compassion.— Amber Kiggens-Leifheit, Teacher, Marshfield High School
Zach came to speak at the Best Buy Campus last June for our “There are Heroes Among Us” campaign. His ability to relate to his audience was great and the way he conveyed his story, precise. It was a pleasure to hear him speak and to see him accept his role and responsibility as an “Accidental Activist” on behalf of the LGBT community. The YouTube sensation he has become has made a profound and positive impact for change!— Zak Baldridge, Consumer Relations, Best Buy Inc.
We were honored to have Zach visit our corporate campus for our LGBTA Pride Month Speaker series, “There are Heroes Among Us.” Zach is an incredible guy whose message of inclusion, both live and in the YouTube clip, is on point with the environment we strive to create every day at Best Buy. I’d strongly recommend Zach to anyone seeking a credible, down-to-earth and motivating speaker.— Corey Smith, Senior Manager, Diversity & Inclusion, Best Buy, Inc.
This is incredible. This is the best speech I’ve ever heard. Three minutes. See what you can do in three minutes? You can change the world with a three-minute speech.— Ted Olson, Partner, Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher
Books by Zach Wahls
Media About Zach Wahls
- 212 572-2013
- Zach Wahls travels from Iowa City, IA
My Two Moms
"Same-sex marriage will be a major-possibly the defining-issue in next year's election cycle, and Wahls speaks to that, but also to a broader issue. Sure, he's handsome and athletic, an environmental engineering student, and an Eagle Scout. Yet, growing up with two moms, he knows what it's like to feel different and to fear being made fun of or worse. In the inspirational spirit of It Gets Better edited by Dan Savage and Terry Miller, My Two Moms also delivers a reassuring message to same-sex couples, their kids, and anyone who's ever felt like an outsider: 'You are not alone.'" – Penguin Group USA