While Nico Tortorella first gained fame for his reoccurring role on Younger, the actor has become increasingly outspoken recently on issues of identity and sexuality on social media and his own podcast, The Love Bomb.
Then, last month, he and newlywed wife Bethany Meyers co-wrote an extensive and lyrical piece for Condé Nast‘s Them about their concept of love and commitment as a queer, polyamorous couple.
Now, the actor has released his debut poetry collection, all of it is you, by sharing a series of poems which, among other things, examine his complex relationship to his own circumcised penis.
The poem in question, justifiably titled ‘Penis‘, questions the practice of circumcising infant children with penises, as is the medical norm in the US, where Tortorella was born.
For reference, a World Health Organisation report from 2010 stated that 79% of adult American men were circumcised, the highest rate of an English-speaking industrial country. For comparison, we sit at around a 59% snip rate.
The poem begins with a specification of a “cauterised” circumcision, where the foreskin is burnt or seared back into the penis base to seal the wound, rather than stitched. This is common in the US.
Here are some of the poem’s opening lines:
cauterized at birth
an ancient covenant fulfilled
but still, i wish
you were uncut, natural, organic, hooded
they say orgasms would be better
This touches upon several of the critiques many anti-infant circumcision activists cite, including its archaic origins, potential pain caused to infants, and loss of sensitivity.
For the record, the science on the latter two is out. More broadly, critics of circumcision question whether the procedure’s prevention of potential health issues, such as UTIs, is statistically worth the procedure’s societal status as the norm in the US.
The poem also brims with the complex ethical question of circumcising a child who cannot consent to the procedure, and how as as adults, that decision can affect someone’s relationship to their own body.
The poem continues by examining Tortorella’s own relationship to his self-described “average” penis, where he outlines that he is a man not because of his penis, but by the relationships “complexed” by his penis. Character makes the person, not genitals.
You can read the full poem – and several others, including ‘Vagina’, ‘Menstruation’ and ‘Identity’ – at Vulture, who have published them as an exclusive preview of the book, which is out today.
Honestly, I was pleasantly surprised by them. Admittedly, perhaps they’re not best read crammed in-between Facebook scrolling and checking emails.
Image credit: Noam Galai/WireImage