Jul 29 2010

Alan Award winning actor Alan Cumming has made a direct appeal to LGBT leaders to come to terms with the issue of circumcision in America. In a letter to the community, Cumming added a little humor to a very serious topic in order to relax the readers of his appeal for assistance. His opening in the letter was:

"Hold on to your package, because this is a letter about foreskin.

I actually went back and forth on that opening sentence several times. How does one introduce the subject of male circumcision to an audience of GLBT leaders? Use a little humor, or just “cut” to the chase?"

Cumming, who was writing on behalf of the national organization, Intact America, make three definitive points about circumcision in America:

▪ circumcision is medically unnecessary, painful, risky, and unethical

▪ it imposes a deeply personal and consequential decision on baby boys without their consent; and

▪ its status within the medical community as the default choice for newborns intimidate parents into believing they have no choice at all.

One of Intact America's goal's is to influence the upcoming report by the Center for Disease Control (CDC) on circumcision and HIV/AIDS. Cumming's talks about three efforts that are currently underway:

▪ Public education about circumcision’s myths and facts. Some of the myths? That circumcision reduces the risk of HIV infection; that it’s widely endorsed by the medical community; and that it doesn’t cause intense pain for the baby. Some of the facts? That it kills 100 infants every year; that it’s a needless waste of more than a billion dollars in health care spending; that there’s no sound medical reason for it; and that disfiguring a male without his consent and before he comes of age is, quite simply, immoral. Your support will deliver these important messages.

▪ Online organizing to build grassroots support for male genital integrity (a phrase I absolutely love). Intact America’s online petition to the CDC very quickly went “viral” and drew tens of thousands of signatures. With millions sharing our view that circumcision is wrong and harmful, it’s just the beginning. Already, the rate of circumcision in the U.S. has declined from 80 to 56 percent since the 1960s; your support for Intact America will hasten that trend.

▪ Celebrity organizing to generate public visibility. Right now, I am teaming up with my friend and celebrity photographer Francis Hills to shoot celebrity supporters of Intact America wearing turtleneck sweaters. These soon-to-be iconic photographs will be published in a book and form the basis of a traveling gallery exhibition. Their impact will come from asking a significantly more provocative question than, “Got Milk?” Your support will help put this campaign into the national Zeitgeist.

What are your thoughts on circumcision and all its ramifications?