Book Review: My Two Moms: Lessons of Love, Strength, and What Makes a Family

By Zach Wahls with Bruce Littlefield
In his acknowledgments, Wahls – whose Iowa state legislature speech opposing a ban on gay marriage became a YouTube sensation – thanks both the homophobic Boy Scouts (“for underscoring...the values my mothers taught me”) and the likes of Ellen DeGeneres, Ashton Kutcher, Rachel Maddow and Neil Patrick Harris. The lad, 19 and an Eagle Scout when he spoke on behalf of his two moms, contains multitudes! This inspiring memoir – each chapter headed by Boy Scout pledges to be obedient, thrifty, brave and so on – is an engaging blend of youthful passion and eyes-wide-open frankness. In high school, Wahls at first dissembled when asked about his parents, endured some bullying about having two mothers, and eventually “came out” in a student newspaper article. The book’s core message – that marriage equality is overdue for queer couples – is underscored by Wahl’s account of how, when his biological mom, Terry, was hospitalized, his non-biological mom, Jackie, had no spousal status; it’s core lesson is that a kid raised by lesbians in love is as normal as normal can be.

Excerpt from the book:

I’m sure this will be taken out of context, but whenever I wished for a dad, it wasn’t because I actually wanted or needed a dad, it was just so I could fit in. Sometimes in awkward situations I’d lie and tell people that my dad occasionally took me skiing, not because I was ashamed of my parents or had this fantasy where he’d swoop in and save the day, but because, given the situation, a lie was simply less complicated than the truth. This wasn’t a rejection of my parents at all. My dishonesty simply flowed from my desire not to be teased or bullied because of how my family was composed. I’m not gay, but I know how it feels to be in the closet."




Richard Labonte has been reading, editing, selling, and writing about queer literature since the mid-’70s. He can be reached in care of this publication, or at