Instant Classic: Zach Wahls Speech Goes Viral Again
BY Julie Bolcer
December 01 2011 9:40 PM ET
Zach Wahls, the Iowa college student whose moving speech about being raised by two lesbian mothers became a viral sensation earlier this year, lit up the Internet again this week.
Last February, millions of viewers watched the three-minute video of Wahls speaking before a panel of the Iowa legislature considering a constitutional amendment to overturn the marriage equality law. The University of Iowa engineering student talked about the ordinariness of life with his two mothers and younger sister, and how his parents raised him to be a successful young man.
“In my 19 years, not once have I ever been confronted by an individual who realized independently that I was raised by a gay couple,” said Wahls in the video. “And you know why? Because the sexual orientation of my parents has had zero affect on the content of my character.”
Now writing a book about his experience with his family, Wahls resurfaced Wednesday when his video was posted to the MoveOn.org site under the catchy title, “Two Lesbians Raised A Baby And This Is What They Got.” According to a message the advocacy group sent to its members Thursday, the video is “the most viral thing we’ve ever seen,” with more than 600,000 Facebook shares, Likes and comments in less than 24 hours.
“That's off the charts,” wrote Move On. “If everyone in the country saw it, it could open countless hearts and maybe even change the national conversation on marriage equality.”
Angie Aker, editor in chief of Move On Media, told The Advocate that in the project she manages, volunteer editors submit “the most shareable, progressive content they can find. The video from Wahls, while nearly a year old, fit the criteria perfectly, she said, taking Move On’s traffic to more than 26 times the activity in a normal day, and showing no signs of slowing down.
“On the MoveOn media side, while we are often focused on highlighting things that are timely or topical, sometimes we are also just putting up a piece that is always appropriate, always loveable, and always good for the progressive cause (timeless). This piece was exactly one of those pieces,” she wrote in an e-mail. “But we have a strong hunch this specific framing (headline/lede) did a lot to spark new interest.”
Wahls, now 20, took to the social news website Reddit on Wednesday to address questions in the popular “Ask Me Anything” forum. He reported that he is now working on a book about his experience with his family, tentatively titled, “My Two Moms: Everything I Needed to Know About Gay Marriage I Learned in Boy Scouts."
Despite his speech last winter, the Republican-controlled Iowa House of Representatives passed the constitutional amendment to overturn the court-ordered marriage equality law. However, in a special election last month, Democrats retained their slim 26-24 majority in the state senate, removing the possibility of a repeal attempt in that chamber. Groups including the National Organization for Marriage had sought to turn the election into a referendum on marriage. This week, Iowa House Speaker Kraig Paulsen told the Associated Press that he did not intend to revisit the issue.
Following the first viral sensation, Wahls appeared on the Ellen DeGeneres Show and MSNBC. He also spoke with The Advocate in April about the “overwhelmingly positive reaction” he received from thousands of fans on Facebook, Youtube, and Twitter.
“I don’t feel like I deserve any of the praise, the gratitude that’s been bestowed upon me over the last three months,” he said at the time. “I think most people in my situation probably would have done the same thing."
Watch the interview below, followed by Wahls' now classic speech in its entirety.