For the second time in less than a month, I found myself an invited guest of the White House. (I don’t think I’ve ever written a more unfathomably awesome sentence.) While hearing the First Lady speak about nutrition and fitness a few weeks prior was certainly amazing, the topic of the second event was much more in my wheelhouse.
There were several distinct differences between my first Dad 2.0 Summit and my second. I was a newbie before, now an old hand. After the previous conference, I left with heart and mind bursting at the seams with ideas and plans and inspiration; this year I was determined to come away with a more efficient focus on ways to be a better writer, a better father, a better man.
Yet the theme common to both — and to the times between and since — is community. Here are some highlights from this too-brief time communing in San Francisco with my Dad 2.0 family.
Michael Kimmel, the opening keynote, spoke at length about what makes a good man and a good father. As a professor of sociology and gender studies, and the author of over 20 books, this was right in his wheelhouse. He talked about privilege, referencing one of his own quotes: “Privilege is invisible to those who have it.” Kimmel was referring to men (particularly white men) and their inability to see their own advantage, when compared to women. In fact, the entirety of his talk revolved around men vs. women, and how the differences and comparisons determine how men are viewed (and view themselves) as fathers. Ironically, halfway through the keynote, I started to feel rather invisible. Not once did Kimmel mention gay men or gay dads. For me, being a dad has nothing to do with how I relate to women, but how I relate to my child. Afterwards I thought I might have been being overly-sensitive, yet over the course of that first day, half a dozen guys (one gay, the others straight) mentioned this same omission, wondering if I had noticed and how it had affected me. Admittedly, it threw me a bit. I was well aware the vast majority of the men at this conference were heterosexual; yet I didn’t expect to be reminded of that so prominently and so early in the conference.
The second keynote of the weekend was my favorite by far, as it featured a panel of Silicon Valley executives, talking about their respective company’s benefits, and the ways they support parents of any gender and families of any makeup. Particularly encouraging was the presence of Kevin McSpadden, the Director of Marketing at Facebook, and a fellow gay dad. Not only are these companies innovative in their technology, but in their appreciation of the balance between work and family life, regardless of what that family looks like.
If you’ve yet to read about my full (and inflamed) experience at BlogHer 14, go here. Otherwise, click on the photo above to see all the awesome Voices of the Year honorees, including yours truly under the giant “I WAS HERE!” scribble.
Thanks again BlogHer for a memorable conference and such wonderful, witty, talented company you put me in.
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JOCK ITCH. The “big rash” was actually jock itch; I just didn’t have the nerve to stick it up there in the title.
It was only midway through the first full day of BlogHer — a ginormous conference about blogging and social media, started by and primarily for women — when I realized I was miserable. I’d had more than my normal level of big-guy-thigh-chafe discomfort (AKA “Chub Rub”) from all the walking around, and I couldn’t stop scratching myself. I was, in fact, on fire.
I skipped whatever session I was planning on attending, and approached the concierge at my hotel to inquire about the closest drugstore. “There’s a Walgreen’s not too far away,” he said cheerily. He gave me quick directions and added, “It’s about a 15 minute walk.” Uh, no.
Getting desperate, I made a beeline for the taxis out front. And for whatever reason, said to the cabbie, “I hurt my foot and need to go to Walgreen’s to pick up my medicine. Can you wait for me there and bring me back?”
I’m sure I could have just asked him for a round-trip to Walgreen’s without adding my ruse. Perhaps I didn’t want to appear lazy. Or I wanted to make sure he understood I was crippled so he wouldn’t drop me off at the drugstore and abandon me. In any event, I was committed to it now, and I’m nothing if not committed.
As the cab stopped in front of the store, I told the driver I’d be about 5 minutes, then exited the car and proceeded to pull a reverse Keyser Söze, adding a slight limp to my few strides up to the drugstore’s door.