Author, activist and son of two lesbian mothers Zach Wahls will be returning to Utah for Moab’s second annual Pride Festival as keynote speaker. Wahls gained notoriety after a YouTube video of his testimony in front of the Iowa House Judiciary Committee went viral.
The self-described accidental activist later went on to write a book, My Two Moms, and is now working on the campaign to stop a measure banning gay marriage in Minnesota. He’ll make time in his busy schedule to come to Utah where he hopes to hit the red rock trails with his mother Jackie Reger.
“I love Utah and can’t wait to visit again,” Wahls said. “It’s such a gorgeous area and Moab was the highlight of the trip I made with my short mom.”
While acknowledging the challenges that conservative states and areas face, Wahls said he’s excited to take part in an event offering a safe place for queer people to gather and celebrate diversity. While same-sex marriage isn’t likely to be legalized in the Beehive State anytime soon, opening the discussions about families and inclusiveness is a vital step in the right direction.
After meeting a Moabite at a convention for bloggers and writers in Rhode Island, Wahls instantly agreed to take part in the festival. And while the intelligent and rising star in the queer rights movement is a perfect fit for any Pride event, it feels particularly poignant for Moab, said festival co-organizer Amy Stocks.
“It’s so serendipitous to have this situation,” she said. “Zach personifies the message that Moab Pride is trying to get across. He and his family are perfect examples of our motto, Let Love Flow. Because Moab Pride isn’t just for LGBT people, but also family, friends and allies.”
While never setting out to be a spokesperson for queer rights, Wahls takes the responsibility with poise, and he was a featured speaker at the Democratic National Convention.
“I never thought I’d be an activist. I was an engineering student just living my life,” Wahls said. “But I can say how proud and pleased I am to see all the progress. I still remember sitting in eighth grade listening to both sides say my family wasn’t equal, that it wasn’t legitimate.”
The Pride Festival, Sept. 28-29, will include parties, a visibility march and performances by local artists including Bronwen Beecher, Mary Tebbs, Indi Skies and Justin Utley.
For more information and a full schedule lineup, go to moabpride.org.