Four out of five men in the United States are circumcised as a baby, either for a religious or a cultural reason.
For one man, he felt like a part of him had been cut away without his consent, and he saw it as a ‘blatant human rights violation’. He said he suffered from depression, was angry, and felt like his parents had betrayed him.
Jonathon Conte, 34, was a visible face in the world of ‘intactivism’, the campaign for the end of routine male circumcision. His 42-year-old partner of five years, Christopher Holden, confirmed he was found dead in their shared apartment in San Francisco.
Holden said Conte had made pancakes for him that morning, which was a little ‘unusual’, but he ‘seemed fine’, according to The Bay Reporter.
‘He was saying goodbye, essentially,’ Holden said. Once he got home from work, he heard soft music coming from the bedroom. He saw his partner’s feet, and thought he was asleep. But then he saw a bag over Conte’s head, with a tube attached to a helium tank.
‘I went over there in shock and ripped it off and tried to do CPR, but of course it was too late,’ he said. ‘It’s very fast acting.’
Holden said Conte had never given any indication he was thinking of killing himself, and realised he’d probably been planning it for ‘quite some time’.
Since his partner’s death, many intactivists have got in touch to express ‘so much support’. Many have written about their memories on Conte’s Facebook page. He said it helps, ‘in a way, to know how many people cared for him’. Holden described Conte as a ‘methodical planner’ and ‘very sweet’.
Conte often marched in Pride parades with intactivists, protested against circumcision, and devoted the majority of his money into his work.
He talked about his circumcision in a YouTube video published in 2011.
When he first learned he had been circumcised at 14, he said it led to feelings of ‘incompleteness, both physically and sexually’.
‘If I as a victim, and other victims, don’t speak out against this practice, it will continue, and more men will continue to experience the painful emotions I’ve had to deal with,’ he said.
‘I didn’t have anyone to talk about this with. I felt very isolated. I felt hopeless. I felt that what had been done to me was so deeply impacting that it was an incredible burden for me to bear. And I didn’t know how to deal with it, so I kept it bottled up for many years.’
He added: ‘This is something that I believe has a severe toll on people, and all of us are affected in one way or another, by what I see is a human rights violation, a blatant human rights violation, that is incredibly wide-spread and right under our noses, and yet people are sometimes unfortunately hesitant to address it with the respect and with the diligence that it deserves.’
There was no note. Holdon said that wasn’t ‘really his personality’.
A memorial will take place on 21 May at the San Francisco Eagle.