The XX Factor

The New White House Social Secretary Is a Man

The White House has announced a new social secretary, and for the first time ever, it’s a man: Jeremy Bernard, previously the senior advisor to the U.S.’s Parisian ambassador. Oo la la!

Bernard was an early supporter of Obama and a key fundraiser (a trait he shares with the two previous Obama social secretaries, Desiree Rogers and Julianna Smoot). The handsome, openly gay Texas native has an impressive and eclectic resume and a background in finance; he’s also served on the President’s Advisory Commision for the Kennedy Center during the Clinton presidency, and on several advisory boards for LGBTQ issues.

Bernard’s selection comes after a mini-campaign for the Obamas to select a man for this historically female job. I argued that maybe until there are more women in key administration positions, we shouldn’t be so eager to push for that. But I can’t help cheering Bernard’s selection, after all. It’s fun to see gender norms like this one reversed, and just as I want to see women represented in key administration roles, I want to see  openly gay members of an administration that’s finally making gay rights more of a priority. I do feel a bit of a twinge that the selection does still play somewhat to stereotype-women and gay men only can plan the parties!-but the position is far more than that, and I’m excited to see how Bernard puts his own stamp on it.