Zach Walls first rose to fame when he spoke before the Iowa House Judiciary Committee on January 31, 2011. His recorded testimony in support of same-sex marriage equality quickly went viral on YouTube, propelling him into a prominent position as an activist for lesbian and gay rights. Now, with the assistance of Bruce Littlefield, he shares his story with a large reading audience. While he provides an overview of some of the struggles facing lesbian and gay families, his book focuses more on his family life and how his mothers’ actively shaped his moral character. Infused with personal stories, Walls’ memoir reveals that lesbian-headed families are families. His mothers strived to be good role models for their son and daughter; they bonded together in the face of adversity; they sustained one another when one of his mothers was diagnosed with debilitating multiple sclerosis, and they actively supported their son throughout his journey to become an Eagle Scout.
While he relays his story, Wahls is careful to show that his family is distinctive: they do not represent all same-sex headed families. In this context, his controversial statement at the Iowa House Judiciary Committee is better understood. He testified, “the sexual orientation of my parents has had zero effect on the content of my character.” In the afterword of his book, he clarifies this statement. He writes, “a person’s sexuality doesn’t tell you that much about the person…their parenting wasn’t shaped by the fact that they were gay; their parenting, too, was determined by the content of their character.” In this way, Wahls once again elucidates the heterogeneity of same-sex parents. While someone’s sexual orientation does not make him/her an unfit parent, it does not necessarily make him/her an ideal parent either. Like any family, Wahls’ family faced challenges that were unique to them. Ultimately, their singularity reinforces their status as a family because no two families are the same.
If you are a gay or lesbian parent or the child of a same-sex union and you want to delve into your identity development or better understand your family dynamics, or you are simply looking for a bisexual, lesbian or gay therapist in Chicago, IntraSpectrum Counseling may be able to help you. With over 50 years of collective experience in working with members of the LGBTQI community in the mental health field, IntraSpectrum counselors understand the multi-faceted identities of their clients and individualize treatment for every client to ensure they are able to optimize the therapeutic experience.