Monday, April 8, 2013
Inspirational speaker Zach Wahls — whose viral "Zach Wahls Speaks About Family" video has more than 17 million views on YouTube — will appear April 8, 2013, at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire. Author of My Two Moms, the LGBT rights activist will be presented at 7:30 p.m. in Woodland Theater of Davies Center.
What Makes a Family? Zach Wahls tried to answer that very question when he testified before the Iowa House Judiciary Committee in January 2011. The son of two lesbian mothers, the 19-year-old University of Iowa engineering student had no idea that his heartfelt testimony that day would spread like viral wildfire, and even have him on The Ellen DeGeneres Show.
A state champion in high school debate and multiple national finalist in competitive acting, Zach was no stranger to speaking before an audience. Yet, he had never talked about his family in a public setting or in such open and candid terms. On his way home from the public hearing, he thought that his work was, for all practical purposes, finished.
Just two days after he testified during that hearing, however, a YouTube video of his testimony went viral, garnering nearly two million views with millions more via Facebook, Twitter, national and international television, and other online media.
Although initially hesitant to share his story on such a vast stage, Zach remembered the famed words of his favorite superhero’s uncle, Ben Parker: “With great power comes great responsibility.” Never before in his life had he had such an opportunity to stand up and speak out on behalf of his family. So he did what any of us would do, deciding to advocate for family and families like his all over the country.
Zach shares a story that has never before been told, and offers a fresh, bold perspective on a recently rekindled — and always contentious — issue: gay marriage.
Like any family’s story, his is one of highs and lows, laughs and tribulations. You’ll laugh, you may even cringe, and no matter your thoughts on marriage equality in our country, you’ll walk away with a new perspective and something to think about.
A Wisconsin-born LGBTQ activist and inspirational speaker who is now based in Iowa City, Iowa, Zach continues to speak in public forums and travel to colleges to spread his message of acceptance and strength. He travels the country talking to many different audiences about his (rather boring) experience growing up with two lesbian mothers, why the struggle for LGBTQ rights is so important and where he thinks the fight goes from here. He’s working with a number of different LGBTQ rights groups in a consulting role and continues to work on protecting and advancing those rights at home in Iowa.
Iowa City Learns, Zach’s small business, is continuing to grow and prosper.