I was born to a 17-year-old nursing student in the deep Southern Baptist South. She chose not to have me circumcised and kept me intact. To say this was unusual in the South is an understatement.
My earliest memory of being uncircumcised—and that it was unusual—happened when I was 3 and 4. My aunt, who was four years older, and my uncle, around 12 at the time, noticed how different I was and started playing doctor with me. They retracted my foreskin to show that I could look just like my circumcised uncle.
My parents learned of this practice and there were swift repercussions. Although I was only 5, I felt ashamed and different, as I knew the fact that I was different had piqued their curiosity. When my brother was born soon after, he was circumcised. When I asked my mom why I was different from everyone else, she said, “When I first saw you, you were perfect and I couldn’t imagine changing you.” That was the last of it.
In the locker room when I got older, I hid my penis or pulled my foreskin back before anyone could see me. On dates, I was never with a woman who had been with an uncut partner, so I always received questions. Occasionally, I even got questions from her friends. I remember one date who, upon seeing it for the first time, paused and said, “Um, I’m really not sure what to do with that.” As if I wasn’t self-conscious enough! It’s not so complicated that you need an instruction manual!
I married young. My wife had been with only one other person, and he was cut. She had her own sexual insecurities, so finally after 20 years of marriage, we decided to stop hiding and threw caution (and our clothes) to the wind and went to a nude beach. It seemed I had the only foreskin on the beach. I told my wife that each time I got out of the water, I felt the music stop and everyone stare. I asked her to prove me wrong, so we tested it. She laughed and said, “Well, yes, there are some lookers. It’s just that you are so uncircumcised. It’s very noticeable.” (The last day of our trip, my wife did notice another uncircumcised man. He turned out to be from France, where circumcision is much less common.)
A few years later, when our marriage began to deteriorate, we tried spicing things up. I bought some porn featuring European men, who would most likely look like me. However, she wanted to see “something a little different” (cue my insecurities), so after a little research, I found a ring that we could use during sex that would hold my foreskin firmly back during intercourse. She was thrilled to have something that both looked and felt different. Being fully retracted also exposed the glans and offered great sensation for me because the glans is usually covered and protected by the foreskin. The skin of the glans is very soft and sensitive. It was pleasurable for both of us!
After we divorced, I was single for five years. During those years of dating, none of my partners had been with an intact man, and the questions continued. But when I married again, I married someone who has truly embraced my body. In fact, since the foreskin provides natural lubrication, it makes sex comfortable for her because her vagina is smaller.
It’s been quite a journey for me, but despite my insecurities and partners’ questions, I don’t regret one bit being intact. I even kept both of my boys intact, hoping their modern world would be a little less inquisitive. But we still have work to do: My niece just had her baby boy circumcised because “uncircumcised boys were made fun of at my school.”
Still, I am a living testament that insecurities can be overcome. And for the right person, whether it was your mom at birth or your current partner, you’re perfect.
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