In a moment of exuberant passion for the cause of educating people about the stupidity of routine infant circumcision, I signed up the nascent Sacramento Intactivist group to march in the Sacramento Pride Parade. I walked in last year’s San Francisco Pride Parade with over 50 committed Intactivists and figured we could muster at least a dozen for the Sacramento event. My exuberance was quickly crushed and a crisis of faith set in with the realization that I might be walking by myself as virtually no one committed to attending the event.
Sacramento Pride Parade quiet for local Intactivists
However, I was fairly certain that Brother K would make the parade since he lives in the Sacramento Valley. My only fear was if the Amtrak train which he usually takes would get stalled by some railroad incident. This is a guy so committed to ending the barbaric practice of circumcising baby boys that he literally, not figuratively, changed his name to bring attention to plight of baby boys strapped down and being amputated. Like a ray of light at the end of a long tunnel, Brother K did arrive at the parade staging area just as he promised.
Should I scrap the parade plans?
With the prospect of none of the Sacramento area intactivists or supporters committing to attend, I had to make crucial decision early in the planning process on whether to have a parade banner made. This was my crisis of faith. If no one else cared for the cause, why should I? Then I remembered Shelly Wright, a committed intactivist, who regularly wheels her circumcision education wagon down to the board walk next to the ocean in Delaware. With no other volunteers, she dispenses education on the consequences of circumcision for baby boys to anyone who walks by and will talk to her.
Shelley Wright and Brother K show no fear
If Shelley and people like Brother K, who routinely dons a bloodstained white jump suit to call attention to the horror and worthlessness of circumcision, can subject themselves to potentially self-esteem bruising confrontations, walking with a fairly innocuous and inoffensive banner in a Pride parade shouldn’t push me out of my comfort zone. People embarrassed into silence are complicit with the many human rights abuses that occur in the U.S. and world. I ordered the banner and decided I would walk alone if no one showed up.
Drawn to the pain of circumcision
While we were contingent of two in the parade staging area across from the Crocker Art Museum, many people came up to us and offered words of support and encouragement. Perhaps the most surprising was the woman who was simultaneously put-off, yet drawn, to Brother K’s signs that are sprayed red to signify the blood of circumcision. She said she wouldn’t have even stopped to talk to us about her decision not to circumcise her son had it not been for implicit pain associated with the “blood stained” signs. Yet another example of how there is no magic path to marketing a particular concept. Different images will trigger different response within people.
Born this way
The women who approached and talked to us, before the parade had even started, both expressed their biggest fear over not having their son’s circumcised was that the boys would look different from the other guys in school. This was all a little ironic coming from people attending a Pride event that were celebrating diversity and recognition that people in the LGBTQI community were “born that way”. For me, these irrational fears underscored the need for continued education and awareness that leaving our sons and daughters intact is the best decision.
Silently against routine infant circumcision
One gentleman recounted the story of how he started the whole circumcision question at work when one of his co-workers became pregnant. He mentioned he followed Intactivists through social media like Facebook and was happy we were at the parade. We also had a wonderful visit with a fellow Sacramentan, Alex, who was unable to walk with us, but wants to support raising the awareness of keeping baby boys intact locally.
Sacramento Pride Parade attendees perplexed by human rights
There was no greater reminder that we walking in Sacramento and not San Francisco by the relatively quiet and pensive mood of the parade watchers. Whereas banners against circumcision are greeted with cheers in S.F., Sacramentans were looking at us like we proselytizing some foreign concept like the right to privacy. Early on in the parade we were joined by Rick who was up from San Francisco visiting friends and had seen on Facebook we would be in the parade. Rick was also at the S.F. Pride Parade last year. He bounded off the sidewalk as we were walking by and I instantly recognized him. He took up holding the other side of the banner so Brother K could more easily lift his poster high in the air.
Loss of words over human rights issue
The parade announcers were also quiet about our parade entry. Instead of reading what I had written about the Sacramento Intactivists, like the advertisement they had just read for the personal trainers in front of us, our banner and small contingent was greeted by silence. They finally coughed out “Number 54 Sacramento Intactivists”. All they had to do was read the description I provided for the group which was approved by the parade organizers.
Sacramento Intactivists is a human rights organization with members working to eradicate all forms of genital mutilation including routine infant circumcision. Members participate in various community events to educate and raise awareness of the right of all individuals – male, female, and intersex – to genital autonomy.
What was particularly striking was that one of the announcers was Christina Mendonsa, a local TV news anchor, who isn’t usually at a loss for commentary. See video at end of post for the confusion of the parade announcers.
Where were the Intactivists?
I’ve stood on street corners with many Sacramento Intactivists in the past. So where were they when we had secured a venue to have thousands of people see our message that parents should question the wisdom of routine infant circumcision? I’ve heard that June 14th also coincided with largest number of family reunions in the western hemisphere. Another possibility was that people didn’t want to miss any of the World Cup soccer match.
It’s painful to be seen as different
But I think the real issue is similar to the one that plagues so many mothers about circumcision, people don’t want to be perceived as different. Parents have their sons circumcised so they won’t be different. People won’t walk in a Pride Parade because their friends and family might think they’re different, you know, “that way”. Some people have asked, “Why a Pride parade?” I answer, “Because I doubt they would let us walk in a 4th of July, Labor, or Memorial Day parade.”
Walmart, Home Depot, Safeway parade entries
Was the prospect of subjecting myself to ridicule and embarrassment by walking with one other person in a parade that featured contingents of 20 and 30 people walking behind banners proudly advertising Walmart, Home Depot and Safeway worth it? Yes. Marketing is about impressions. I was wasn’t walking to make a profit like some of the corporations in the Pride Parade. Beyond the people that actually talked to us or gave us a silent thumbs up as we walked by, hundreds of others read the banner.
His Body His Rights … Question routine Infant Circumcision
And many will go on to question the wisdom of routine infant circumcision. Half the battle is planting the seed of doubt so prospective parents will give a second thought, “Do I really need to circumcise my son?”
We walked at Sacramento Pride Parade
Kevin Knauss: Circumcision is worthless and stupid
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