Bova was born in Erie, PA, on June 1, 1938. He attended public schools in Erie and then went to Georgetown University in Washington, DC, from 1956 to 1960. He arrived in Chicago in the fall of 1960 to attend the University of Chicago Graduate School in Education and Library Science. He worked at the National Opinion Research Center ( NORC ) from 1963 until retirement in 1998. Volunteers as a tour guide at the Frank Lloyd Wright Robie House in Hyde Park. He met and married James Darby on July 17, 1963. He and Darby are very active in local and national gay veterans efforts, including American Veterans for Equal Rights. They are also advocates of overturning the military's gay ban.