causes + charities
The latter part of 2017 saw an endless parade of powerful men exposed for predatory behavior. As we enter the new year, I wanted to share some #MeToo stories that had an impact on me. At one point I thought this wouldn’t be timely any longer, but quickly realized what a weak (and completely inaccurate) reason that is for not joining the conversation. It’s never too late to examine how I’ve played a part in our culture of misogyny and abuse; never too late to explore how I can do better; and never too late to amplify the voices of the women who’ve shared their stories… and the countless more who haven’t.
For a long time, I’ve considered myself an advocate for women. I’m very much for a woman’s right to choose; I cheer when women excel in areas historically dominated by men; I’ve raised my son on female superheroes and discouraged gender-bias in toys, media, occupations, and the like. Hell, I even attended a conference at the White House on women and girls, marched in the Women’s March, and voted for Hillary — twice.
Plus I’m gay, which grants me Automatic Ally status, right? Seeing as I’m not a sexual threat to women, how could I possibly be a misogynist? How could I be part of the problem?
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For a long time, I prided myself on being a good dad when it came to teaching my son about race. But I’ve fallen short; and in all likelihood, so have most white parents.
I think back to when Jon was little, and how we didn’t use the words “Black” or “white” when referring to race; instead using “brown” and “peach” to indicate skin color. And whenever he would tell me about a new friend or teacher, I’d do this uptight, liberal, word-twist thing where I’d ask him to describe the person using everything but their skin color. And I’ll admit to still feeling a bit of pride every time my eight-year-old makes a non-white friend.
All of these may seem good-hearted or complimentary, but all they accomplish is centering me and my white child; not really teaching either of us anything about racism. I thought that if I avoided the terms “Black” and “white,” I’d somehow avoid exposing my child to the scariness of racism. Yet all I’ve done is dilute its true impact on people of color.
If you’ve read this blog for any amount of time, you know Comfort Cases is one of my all-time favorite organizations. Founded by my dear friend Rob Scheer, Comfort Cases provides overnight cases and other personal items to kids in the foster care system. The charity was inspired by the fact that Rob, his own four children, and millions of other kids arrive at foster homes with very few belongings, typically stuffed into garbage bags. #NoMoreTrashBags
This Thanksgiving weekend, Comfort Cases is helping boost spirits (and hoping to raise LOTS of money) with an AMAZING drag show featuring two of the sparkling stars of RuPaul’s Drag Race — Mrs. Kasha Davis and Tatianna!
Saturday, November 25 at Town Danceboutique. • Doors open at 7pm. • Tickets are $50 a person, and all proceeds benefit Comfort Cases. • This is a 21 and over event. • All tickets are general admission, so seating is first come, first served. • Drag show virgins: BRING DOLLAR BILLS, Y’ALL (Here’s more helpful drag show tips)
Look, I know this is Thanksgiving weekend and all, but can you think of any better counter-programming to ALL THE DAMN FOOTBALL than this?!? Leave the dude-bros to their sportsball, grab your favorite girlfriends/boyfriends, and head to Town to raise a ruckus and some money for a great cause!
EXCLUSIVE DESIGNER DADDY BONUS PERK:
I’m giving away a Meet & Greet/Photo Op with Mrs. Kasha Davis & Tatianna to one lucky reader and a friend!
How to win:
• BUY YOUR TICKET (GO HERE. NOW.)
• Come back to this post (or Facebook, Twitter, and wherever else I share this), and leave a comment telling me what you’re most thankful for.
• Cross your fingers, snatch a four-leaf clover, kick a black cat out of the way, and hope you win!
Only one entry, per social media platform, per person. Winner will be notified by Friday, November 24. If you don’t show up, I will hunt you down and force-feed you an entire turducken.
AN EPIDEMIC OF HATE
In 2015, nineteen transgender people were murdered in the United States. The following year, that number rose to 26, an all-time high. In 2017 there have already been 26 trans people murdered, the vast majority of them women of color.
The map below illustrates that these brutal killings occur in every region of the U.S. (23 states + DC). And bear in mind these statistics include only documented murders. Also missing are the countless acts of rape and assault against transgender people.
Click map to enlarge. Data source: Wikipedia (updated 11/20/2017)
For seven days, I and eleven other dads hiked more than 90 miles along England’s historic Hadrian’s Wall. Complications of life (and perfectionist tendencies) kept me from writing about it at the time. Here, now, are some thoughts and images from that life-changing week.
07.10.16, DAY 1: Bowness-on-Solway to Carlisle – 17 miles
Today it’s actually happening. I’m trying to figure out the pay-by-the-minute shower, packing up all my gear, guzzling some caffeine to make up for a restless night’s sleep. As someone who’s inherently aware of their shortcomings — especially when it comes to anything physical — I double and triple check what I’ve stuffed into my backpack, trying to imagine every scenario possible. I will come to learn along the way what I need more of (water, foot bandages), and of what I need less (pretty much everything else); but this first day I was flying blind.
Last night at the lone pub in town, we chatted over dinner and beers with a grandfather and grandson who had just completed the walk. Having traveled from the opposite direction, they advised wearing long pants for the several patches of nettles, and to be prepared for lots of diversions.
“Diversion” is British for “detour” — a word with which we would become intimately, frequently acquainted.
“Their story is one of the reasons I love my job.”
A couple of my favorite gay dads (and favorite people in general) recently appeared on The Ellen DeGeneres Show to talk about one of my favorite charities, Comfort Cases. I got some behind-the-scenes scoop on the experience from this amazing family I’m privileged to call friends.
The latest adventures of Rob and Reece Scheer & family found them being contacted by Ellen’s people back in February. They had seen the video produced by Upworthy, which at that point had over 11 million views. (It currently has over 83 million.) Inspired by the Scheer’s story and Comfort Cases mission, Ellen asked them to be on her show.
The interview happened back in March, but Ellen was so moved by the Scheers, that she decided to produce an original video segment to accompany their appearance on her show. If you haven’t watched the video yet, scroll up and do it now to avoid any spoilers! 🙂
I’m continuously amazed at the evolution of Oren Miller’s legacy. Last summer’s walk along Hadrian’s Wall (to open a camp in Oren’s name) recently received recognition at the 2017 Iris Awards. Winning in the Philanthropic Work of the Year category, now even more people are aware of Oren, Camp Kesem, and the cause to support families touched by cancer.
The Iris Awards are given out at a swanky ceremony held in conjunction with the Mom 2.0 Summit. Nominees and voters are from within the parent blogging community, so it’s particularly meaningful to receive kudos from dear friends and respected colleagues.
But it was also pretty amazing being honored alongside the 12 men I now consider my brothers. Being able to celebrate with them only amplified my excitement, as well as my pride in our achievement of walking nearly 100 miles and raising over $40,000.
Check out the video of our award being announced (and of me speaking), beginning at the 24-minute mark.
And the story has chapters yet to be written. The Camp Kesem started in Oren’s name at the University of Maryland is training counselors this fall, and will hold its first summer camp next year. You can bet I will be there, cutting a ribbon or rowing a kayak or whatever I can to celebrate my friend, his life, and the hope and strength for kids affected by their parents’ cancer.
I’ve written about Super Heroes on this site a lot. Like, a lot a lot. Spandexed super beings have been part of my life for as long as I can remember; and becoming a father only deepened my fandom as I passed down all this adoration, excitement, and knowledge to my son. Yet while I ensure that Jon is up on his origin stories and rogues lists, I want him to know heroes exist in real life, too.
A Family of Super Heroes
We’ve been lucky enough to know such a team of heroes, in the form of The Scheer Family — who I’m nominating as part of Marvel’s Heroes Come In All Sizes campaign!
I’ve written about the Scheers before, too, but am always thrilled to share their heroic story.
For seven days in July, I and eleven other dads hiked 90+ miles along England’s historic Hadrian’s Wall. We walked to fund a camp for kids whose parents had been touched by cancer. We walked to honor our friend Oren Miller, who had died of cancer the year prior – and for whom the camp would be named. We walked for those in our own lives impacted by the disease, including several in our group. But we also walked for ourselves.
The experience was exhilarating and exhausting, thrilling and tedious; breathtaking — both literally and figuratively. It was the undisputed apex of my year, and near the top of any other.
Until now, I’d only shared about the walk on social media. Life and all its complications — and my perfectionist tendencies — kept me from documenting it properly here.
But in light of the announcement that the University of Maryland Camp Kesem will officially come to be this fall, I thought it high time I collected my thoughts, memories, and images from that life-changing week in a more permanent fashion.
I still haven’t decided if this can be done in one post or seven (or something in between), so bear with me as I return to the rolling hills of Northern England and allow this epic outing to re-unfold.
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Imagine yourself a kid at summer camp.
Perhaps it calls to mind bunk beds with flimsy mattresses. Potato sack races and three-legged races and racing around at dusk playing hide-and-seek. Scratching mosquito bites, catching fireflies, watching sparks swirl up from a fire into the night sky. A night sky so black and stars so bright, it’s like you’d never seen them before. An escape from school and parents and all the baggage that entails; a chance to be on your own, yet surrounded by others in the same, wonderfully wobbly paddleboat called childhood.
Now imagine one of your parents has cancer. Perhaps they’re in remission, or they’re enduring chemotherapy; or maybe they lost their battle and now you’re a teenager (or preteen, or younger) without a parent.