Hey everybody:

I'm actually a long time redditor, and it's been my distinct honor to watch you guys put me on the front page three times now, especially considering that none of my own posts have ever gotten anywhere near the front page.

There was an AMA just a couple days ago by an 18 year old who also had two moms, and I'm kind of apprehensive about whether or not this is going to be meaningfully different. But what the hell.

And because I know how much we all love imgur, proof: http://imgur.com/XNKMy

And it reads "This backwards" because I tried to write "What's up Reddit?" but it was backwards when I took the picture.


EDIT: The book is tentatively called My Two Moms: Everything I Needed to Know About Gay Marriage I Learned in Boy Scouts Should be on shelves over the summer or in the early fall.

EDIT 2: For those of you whose questions won't get answered (there are a lot and I'm doing my best!) please simply enjoy this awesome stand up about homosexuality and gender: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=in9SiDtJLaU

EDIT 3: I made this video forever ago, but it's still relevant today:

Thank you, everyone.

Also, woah beard.

EDIT 4: 1:30 a.m. Central and I'm calling it a night. Thank you, all. I had a great time, and I hope you found my responses worthwhile. Back to my main account.


Comments: 3101 • Responses: 32  • Date: 

ButterForTheKhornGod946 karma

I was raised fundie Christian, so up until a few years ago your parents were evil horrible people that were destined to burn in hell for all eternity. That has all been changing over the last few years, and your video brought me to tears. Tears of joy, and shame. I am truly sorry for judging your family with such a closed mind, and without trying to find out who you really were. I am no longer that person, please pass my apology on to your family, I hope you can find it in your hearts to forgive me.

ZachWahls654 karma

No need to apologize, man. My grandma on short-mom's side is an 82-year old Polish-Catholic woman who refused to come to the wedding (Not just civil unions! Iowa represent.) in 2009. You've got to meet people where they are.

And I really don't hold anyone's religious beliefs against them, so long as they don't cause them to harm anyone. It'd be hard, but I like to think I'd break bread with Fred Phelps if he came a'knockin.

[deleted]291 karma


ZachWahls333 karma

Yeah, I know he's an asshat and a blowhard, but this is a free country, and we've all got our rights.

I was actually glad that he won his supreme court case over the summer. Wrote about said case here.

BrianFlanagan122 karma

I sent my Dad your video. We're Canadian so the gay marriage thing is NBD up here.

He isn't religious and is normally a very down to earth guy who, for whatever reason, doesn't think gay people should raise children. He has no problem with gay people themselves, or gay marriage. His issue is specifically when children get involved.

Arguments usually go something like this: "If you're gay and choose to get married, that's fine, go right ahead. But a child can't choose to grow up in a gay household and it isn't fair to force that life on them. Because gay people can't create children on their own, society has input" I try to stress the, "But if a child is growing up in a household with two parents that love them (and each other) how can that be a bad thing?" To which he argues, "If I child could choose to be raised by two gay people that is different, but babies and young children can't make that informed decision." I think it's ignorant to have that opinion; however, I (in theory) support that we're all entitled to our own opinions. In this case, I'm also entitled to try and change his opinion because he is old and wrong.

Thanks for ammunition in my battle for him to realize we're all just people.


ZachWahls377 karma

Interestingly, my biomom had severe scarring on her fallopian tubes--or something like that--so she wouldn't have been able to get pregnant the "natural" way even if she were straight and married to a man without the use of some reproductive technology.

You might also point out that gay people have been raising children literally since the beginning of our species. It's not like homosexuality was created during the sixties by free love and weed. It's just that now, in some parts of the world, gays can raise kids in a loving relationship with another gay person.

Raftman118 karma

How did you address your mothers growing up? Did you call them by name? Obviously you just can't yell out mom. :P

ZachWahls204 karma

Good question. First off, I'll point out that it's different for every single kid. For me, my biological mom had me and then my sister when she was single and didn't meet Jackie (short-mom) until I was five. So by that point, Terry (tall-mom) was already, "Mom," and Jackie was "Jackie."

Interestingly over the last nine months as I've talked about them more and more in public, and I've had to refer to them as "Terry" and "Jackie" to keep them separate, I've actually found myself referring to Terry by her first name. Jackie's was super confused the first time I got home from a trip and asked if Terry was in.

igotbhangra59 karma

I was wondering how you differentiated between your moms verbally, but I never would have thought of "short-mom". You win, sir, you win.

ZachWahls133 karma

Well, it was kind of an adaptation of "step-mom" but it worked because she's only 5'4" and Terry is like 5'10" and I'm 6'5" - 6'6"

periwinklemoon474 karma

Your speech was so well-versed. Extremely moving, so thanks! Did you practice before-hand? Think of it on the fly?

Is your sister also very successful, and just as charming?

ZachWahls625 karma


I did practice beforehand. If you look carefully, you can actually see me set down my notes and start the timer on my ipod. That being said, what actually came out of my mouth was only about 70% of what was on the paper in front of me. More than "memorized," I knew what I wanted to say and had a couple lines locked away. The last line about the sexuality of my parents, for example, I knew was going to be my last line.

She's definitely successful, though we're fairly different. We both love history, comics, movies and ice cream, but she's waaay more artsy than me. She's an incredible drawer. I've actually linked some of her art earlier on my main Reddit account and r/trees seemed to like it. (Although we like everything.) She's a senior in high school now--I'm both proud and terrified--and trying to figure out college. Love her to death.

sutherlandan268 karma

Was your "Content of my character" line inspired from Martin Luther King's "I have a dream" speech?

ZachWahls426 karma

It was indeed.

twizzle14302 karma

Props man! It takes some big cojones to stand in front of those politicians and say what you said. I respect you, a lot. Good stuff.

ZachWahls535 karma

Thanks. It's crazy, because before all this happened, I'd never been an activist or anything. I volunteered for the Obama campaign because my then-girlfriend worked for them (Hipster Iowan: I supported Obama before it was cool.) but didn't work to protect the Iowa Supreme Court Justices back in '10 or anything.

A constitutional amendment being introduced, combined with the fact that this was at the tail end of that string of suicides by gay and lesbian kids, was a huge wake up call. I was nervous at first, but once you realize that you're there to defend your family, you find your voice pretty quick.

EDIT: Because it seems to be a big deal "then-girlfriend" is actually accurate. I'm single at the moment.

IsThereMOAR246 karma

I'm sorry but I never heard of you until now, but I just googled you.

All I can say is:

Holy shit, how long did it take you to prepare that?

That is the most eloquent and well delivered shit I've ever heard in my entire lifetime.

Do you think you changed anyone's opinions? Because if they don't get it after watching you, I think there might be no more hope for humanity.

ZachWahls538 karma

Haha, thanks man.

I went through three different drafts before I got to a set of themes/ideas I really liked. Whole process was about six hours. Practiced it to myself during the drive from Iowa City to Des Moines.

In some ways, though, I feel as though I had been preparing for that hearing my whole life. Dealing with my tall-mom's MS, Boy Scouts, being in speech and debate, etc. It all built up to that moment.

And from what I've been told, it's changed some minds. My favorite message thus far has been one I received from a guy just a few years older than me about to ship out to Afghanistan.

Verbatim: “man, i just watched your video on youtube. being from the south, the deep south, I have been raised ‘anti-gay.’ Pardon the slur. but that completely changed my view on the subject. Just amazing. Im leaving for the army in two weeks and was pretty upset about don’t ask don’t tell being repealed but again you changed my view on that. I just thought it would be nice for you to know you truley opened someones eyes. Thank you.”

Meeting Ellen DeGeneres was really cool, and she's a neat leady. Reading that message was better.

Thankful_Lez325 karma

I...honestly, I don't have words...which is sad, because I'm an English teacher. But I've been sitting here with this blank box trying to figure out exactly what to say to you, should you eventually see this comment. So here are a bunch of words, probably not the right ones, but the ones that are coming to mind as I try to express what's in my heart.

You see, I'm not only a teacher (in Los Angeles, NOH8!), but I'm also a Gay-Straight Alliance sponsor. We watched your speech last year in our club. Many of us cried (ok, seriously, all of us cried). I've had so many students who have been abused, neglected, hated, feared, and kicked out of their homes for being LGBTQ. Or just for being. You moved us. Deeply.

As you can see from my username, I'm also a lesbian. In fact, I made this (my only) username to thank a woman who was pregnant and having a gay couple adopt her child. But now, and from this point forward, I'd like to dedicate this name to you. I'm crying as I type this because you have changed my life personally, especially once this video went viral. I know you didn't choose your parents, but you did choose to do and say what you did. And as someone who is a lesbian future-mom (and not too far into the future, either), I hope my children grow up as wonderfully as you did. None of my friends has grown children, yet, so I don't get to hear it first-hand that you will love us as you do once you grow up. And even though I know that's true, it's comforting to hear it straight from your mouth for the first time ever.

I mentioned to the other IAMA/AMA by the 18 year old raised by two lesbians that a male coworker told me that I should never have children with my (then) girlfriend because "How can women raise a man?" Thank you for showing the world that we can do a beautiful job because our gender is not what's important. And my single mother did a fabulous job with my brother.

I know I'm going to finish this and think of prolific, eloquent, deep things to say that will show you just how important this is to me, everyone over at r/actuallesbians (not to speak for us all, but I'm pretty sure they'd agree), my students (who would love to be raised by your two moms), my own mother (who is my biggest supporter), every lesbian on my facebook page (so, at least half of my friends) who is posting your video today (again, most of them), and the people whose minds and hearts you've changed, but for now, all I can say is thank you from the bottom of my heart.

I've always been lucky enough to be a Thankful_Lez, but today I've felt extra loved, especially reading the responses people are writing to you. What hope you've given me and countless others for the future. What hope the Redditors who have responded have given me. I hope for the day when what you did and said will be unremarkable, but for now, it is the opposite.

So I'll probably hit "save" now, and maybe go back and edit this, or read it and go "wow, that's a lot of incoherent rambling," but in this first post, I'll end with this: I will remember you and remember this video forever. And I will think of you, however briefly, some moment in the future when I have my children (biological, hopefully, and adopted), and how you (and countless others) fought so bravely for us to be recognized as the loving family we've become. I hope that communicates the magnitude of your words and actions.

Thank you, again.

(Yep, EDITed for grammar and inclusion of my awesome (formerly) single mom.)

ZachWahls130 karma

This made me smile.

Thank you.

Shalashashka225 karma

Do you watch lesbian porn?

ZachWahls321 karma

Used to. Not so much any more. Don't think it's related to the fact that I've got lesbian parents though. I've got some guy friends who also have two moms and love lesbian porn.

notreallyablack127 karma

so what kinds of porn are you interested in?

ZachWahls872 karma

Don't have any favorite actresses or anything, but Amateur Allure was the first site I followed on a regular basis. I've got a things for tall brunettes. Was all about the Asians when I was younger, but seem to have moved on.

Can't believe I just said that.

EDIT: What the hell. My moms bought me a subscription to Playboy when I was 16 at my request. Only rule? They got first dibs.

yesidhitthat201 karma

You rang? 6' tall, brunette here.

ZachWahls450 karma

relevant username.

Logicianmagician169 karma

Do you have any political aspirations? Because if so I would vote for you.

ZachWahls413 karma

I'm not sure. I'd actually much rather work for a politician I really, really believed in than be a politician myself. Part of me finds politics really interesting, in so far as it's quite possibly the most complex--and most important--game in the world. And as an SC2 enthusiast, I'm a sucker for strategy games.

Over the last nine months, I've had a small taste of what it's like to have your life put under a microscope, and I don't like it. I can't imagine being a politician, especially a state level or higher, and having to live your life in constant scrutiny. I had plenty of scrutiny from skeptical folks when I was growing up. I'm hoping I can escape that at some point.

MatronStarcraft197 karma

And as an SC2 enthusiast, I'm a sucker for strategy games.

Good man!

TechnoNStuff70 karma

So Mr. Wahls... what race do you play? ;)

ZachWahls162 karma

I'm a Terran player in 1v1. Used to play random in 4v4, but started getting destroyed when I'd spawn Toss once I hit diamond, so now it's almost all Terran, all the time.

SuperSeal85 karma

He is an Eagle Scout.

ZachWahls258 karma

I am indeed. Means more to me than my high school diploma.

Web3d143 karma

The Boy Scouts tend to have an anti-gay stance being a religiously backed organization. Does that bother you? Has it ever affected you at all?

Edit: typo

ZachWahls194 karma

Yes and no.

I don't have a problem with religion--I'm a fairly religious guy myself. The anti-gay thing is a result of the fact that the BSA receives a lot of money from Mormon organizations.

My moms were never controversial, in no small part, I'm sure, due to the fact that they're both women, so it never had a huge impact on my life. The policy needs to change, though, and I'm hoping that the book I'm working on will do something to facilitate that change.

Logicianmagician68 karma

He's also an engineer, we really do need people in congress who can understand whats actually going on in the world.

ZachWahls251 karma

Engineering student. But I definitely agree with that last part. Moreover, though, I think we need a populace that is engaged enough with the world to be able to know when their congressperson doesn't understand what's actually going on in the world.

notreallyablack135 karma

how do you think having two mothers HAS affected you. you talked a lot about how you are the same as everyone else, but do you think there are any major(or minor) differences?

ZachWahls379 karma

Yeah, definitely. There's no doubt that having two mothers has affected me, and in large ways, but there are other things that make my family different that I think are much more important. My tall-mom being diagnosed with MS when I was nine is probably the single most impactful "trait" of my family.

And over the last nine months, I've figured out that when most people ask about growing up with two moms, they're actually asking about what it's like growing up without a father.

I had to learn how to shave from my best friend's dad. It's something I was briefly bullied about when I was growing up. It made me aware of the whole gay marriage debate--and the effects it might have on my family--from a young age.

But my moms were fairly strict with me and my sister growing up. They always had to know where I was, I didn't get to go to parties, etc. And having to deal with Terry's MS aged me quickly. I had way more responsibilities than most kids my age in making our family function and that level of responsibility is... aging?

I also had to deal with the reality that there are a good number of people out there who literally think I shouldn't exist and that my family isn't legitimate. (True story, the newspaper of my hometown refused to publish my birth announcement because, and I quote, "We don't do illegitimate children.") That'll make a difference in your life and will force you to question yourself and your family, no matter what your parents say.

[deleted]104 karma

Do people jump to conclusions after finding out you have to mothers? Meaning do they think he must be gay or his childhood was one big ball of gender role confusion. I want to word this to sound slightly more intelligent but I'm not slightly intelligent so I hope you get my point.

ZachWahls143 karma

This is interesting. As I pointed out in my testimony, nobody has ever been like "OH! You!! You have gay parents!" out of the blue.

But now when people meet me and the sexual orientation of my moms has preceded me, I have been asked if I'm gay. But usually, people get to know me before it comes up that I've got gay moms, seeing as I don't walk around introducing myself as the kid with two moms, and most folks figure out that I'm straight pretty quick.

Phinq96 karma

.. how long before you're on the Daily Show?

ZachWahls155 karma

When this blew up back in February, I started saying that I had two big goals. 1) Get on the Daily Show. 2) Meet Emma Watson.

For some reason, people thought I was joking.

Tongue in cheek. But seriously.

sharkattack8590 karma

I saw your speech several months ago when it first became viral on the internet and I was incredibly impressed by the power, and most of all the simplicity of it. I was wondering how the people in your church view the fact that your parents are gay? Do they have any problems with it or does your family belong to a more open church such as the universal Life Church?

ZachWahls208 karma

Yeah, we're practicing Unitarian Universalists, actually. Lifelong, in my case. My moms actually met at a UU coffee house.

If you're wondering what the hell Unitarian Universalism is, if you'll recall in the Office when Angela thinks the office is cursed, she thinks it's cursed because Phyllis's husband Bob Vance, of Vance Refrigeration, is a Unitarian.

tl;dr: respect others.

Wikipedia article: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Unitarian_Universalism

matty271480 karma

hey man! what small business do you own, and how did the rest of the hearing play out? did anyone respond negatively to what you had to say? thanks, and good for you. anytime this video surfaces, i always take time to watch it because your testimony is just so beautifully spoken

ZachWahls152 karma

Iowa City Learns. It's a peer tutoring company. You can check out our website here.

Rest of the hearing was intense. I spoke 4th overall out of probably right around 40 speakers. You can check out my counterpart on the other side: http://www.youtube.com/user/IowaHouseDemocrats#p/u/14/oBGJHrnziTc

Might sound a little fire-and-brimestoney, but he's a super nice kid, actually. We've got a mutual friend who's way more chill.

EDIT: Funny part is that he was actually sitting on our side. He went back to sit down and all the women he was sitting next to were just staring at him with their mouths open.

KobraCola84 karma

Um, this guy's aware that our government is not a theocracy right? His ENTIRE argument is based on religion...... Last time I checked you don't have to be Christian to serve in government. Hell, I grew up Catholic (now atheist) and I'm pretty offended right now.

ZachWahls167 karma

A lot of people don't realize that, actually. Sad. But true.

To a lot of folks the First Amendment doesn't protect freedom of religion, it protects the freedom to be a Christian.

Veeboe55 karma

Show us pictures of your pets and we'll make you our leader.

ZachWahls110 karma

Freud4u52 karma

Damn dude that speech nearly brought me to tears. Very impressed, we need more people like you that are willing to stand up for what they believe in (and that do it so damn well). Couple questions:

Have you heard any comments (positive or negative) from the legislators that voted to pass the proposal? Were you able to change any of the voters minds?

Also, are you sure you want to be an engineer? Seems that your skill set may be better used in politics or as an advocate.

ZachWahls90 karma


There were some comments from legislators. It was cited by pro-gay marriage lawmakers the next morning during open debate on the house floor. The Chairman I addressed when I said, "If I was your son Mr. Chairman," got up and said that gay couples can't reproduce and that it's the fact that a straight couple can, his words, "accidentally" reproduce that entitles them to being qualified for marriage.

And, no, I'm not sure. I switched my major from economics and environmental engineering because a) I love legos and b) wanted job security. I'm still pretty focused on going into a field somewhere in environmental engineering, though whether I do so as an actual engineer is up in the air.

And I've spend the last nine months or so advocating and speaking and writing and I've enjoyed it quite a bit. In some ways, though, I've been doing it all my life and am definitely looking forward to my existence being non-political, which, in many parts of the country, it still is.

exeunt38 karma

Do you know who your biological father is? If so, what does he do? What are the biggest similarities between you two?

ZachWahls76 karma

Yes and no, but mostly no.

My bio-mom (or "Tall Mom") used artificial insemination to get pregnant back in 1990 and worked with a sperm bank to do so. So we've got files containing his basic medical info, (height, weight, family history, etc.) as well as a basic info questionnaire he filled out.

As you might expect, we've got some things in common and some things not at all in common. Example: evidently golf was a huge part of his life. I've been to a driving range exactly once, although I did enjoy minigolf when I was younger. It also sounds like he is a lot slimmer than I am. (I'm right around 215, and he was only 180, despite being the same height.) Counter example: we were both swimmers in high school and both very entrepreneurial/business minded.

jmk199136 karma

Hey, Zach, I'm a guy you knew in high school (look at my username, and I'm sure you can figure out who). Just want to say that, while our political positions didn't always agree, I always did, and continue to, respect the way you go about arguing your beliefs and supporting them. Keep up the good work.

ZachWahls26 karma

Thanks Jimmy. Believe me, it's mutual.

jayubaum36 karma

It sounds as though you are very liberal-minded, but you also show a strong interest in business. As an entrepreneur, would you consider yourself socially liberal, yet fiscally conservative?

ZachWahls159 karma

Yes and no.

When it comes to the government's role in economics, I'm of the opinion that the government is important. Internet, space travel, and lots of other really great things have come out of government intervention in the marketplace. But there's a limit, too, between investing in crazy ideas for the greater good and centralized planning.

I find myself often agreeing with Washington Post reporter/blogger Ezra Klein when it comes to practical matters of domestic economic policy and the Economist blogger Will Wilkinson when it comes to political/economic theory.

Socially, I'm actually in pretty much the mainstream of our generation. I support reasonable, but not excessive, gun control. I support the legalization, at both state and federal levels, of same-sex marriage and cannabis. I'm still not sure how I feel about abortion. I think the DREAM Act is probably a good idea. I think the PATRIOT Act should be re-evaluated. I support the idea of Net Neutrality, though I'm not sure of the best way to secure it.

I'll vote to re-elect President Obama in 2012, barring any major, unforeseen developments. I am seriously considering voting for Jon Huntsman in the Iowa GOP primary, though.

LeCasualRage28 karma

How often do you procrastinate?

ZachWahls108 karma

Way more than I should. I'm a diamond SC2 player and love me my xbox 360. And certain other recreational... activities.

MyNameIsBruce223 karma

I know you won't see this, but I thought you might like to know that the video of your speech in front of the legislature is being used in college classes about argument and advocacy to show how to properly articulate your position. Thanks for being awesome!

ZachWahls25 karma

I don't like being contrary, but I did in fact see this.

I do my best.

Stay classy Bruce.

momiller18 karma

I went to TEDx in Iowa City and was delightfully surprised this was your mom! Impressive family! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KLjgBLwH3Wc

ZachWahls15 karma

Right? Seriously, I get all this from her...