Features  When a man loves an object

Nicholas Cameron learns a thing or two about Objectùm-Sexuality

Had I known about Objectùm-Sexuality when I was nine years old, I’m more or less positive I would have married my N64. Objectùm-Sexualists profess to have innate, emotional, and physical attractions to inanimate objects which they believe are capable of reciprocating love. They have found particular unity through an online forum, which consists of 30-odd members who have been involved with everything from wrenches to bows, trains to mechanical spiders, and bridges to the Eiffel Tower.

Objectùm-Sexuality’s founder is a woman named Eija-Riitta Eklöf of Liden, Sweden. In 1977, she married the Berlin Wall and added Berliner-Mauer to her name. With Eklöf’s launch of the official Objectùm-Sexuality web site (objectum-sexuality.org), individuals gradually began to congregate online and share their experiences. In this case, the almighty Internet has enabled people who share a geographically scattered quirk to emerge in the late 20th century demanding its recognition as a sexual identity. The Objectùm-Sexualists declared a red fence as a marker of O.S. identity, in tribute to its founder who, along with her passion for guillotines and the Berlin Wall, cherished fences. “We put them up to protect ourselves but not to shut people out,” the web site reads, explaining the signification.

Medical research has been slow to react to Objectùm-Sexuality. Some professionals classify it as a branch of paraphillia, a fetish involving objects; others scoff at it. But most, including all of those whom I spoke to at McGill, had not previously heard of it. German sexologist Volkmar Sigusch views Objectùm-Sexuality as an indication that society is increasingly drifting into asexuality. Though little research has been conducted, there appear to be some patterns. The majority of Objectùm-Sexualists are women, roughly one-third have been diagnosed with Asperger syndrome, and some have survived through childhood trauma. That being said, as with any other orientation, there is no common Objectùm-Sexual experience. Some are attracted to a spectrum of objects while others desire a specific type.

It is easy to look upon Objectùm-Sexuality with guarded skepticism. Perhaps, Objectùm-Sexuality is a perpetuation of the consumer culture to which we are conditioned. Anarchic videos of Black Friday tramplings and murmurs of Karl Marx come to mind when one considers how our identities have come to be defined by what we own. To some non-Objectùm-Sexualists, the emergence of this group appears to be another instance in which the Internet has become a host for people who spend their days pressing their tongues to lifeless beings; nothing more.

That being said, Objectùm-Sexuality differs from our typical fleeting attachment to and disposable treatment of objects. Objectùm-Sexual relationships are not driven by ownership, but rather by mutual emotional attachment and the belief that all objects have souls. Testimonials offer sincere claims from individuals who have struggled their entire lives with their attractions and were simply deprived of a language with which they could define themselves. Objectùm-Sexuality, they claim, is just another orientation no different than heterosexuality, homosexuality, or bisexuality. Except, perhaps it is more akin to queer identities in that it radically challenges heteronormativity, to the extent that it defies the basic assumption that sexual attraction exists between two humans. Though some may contest the authenticity of Objectùm-Sexuality, its validity rests in the simple fact that some have chosen to be defined by this label despite possible alienation from their families, ridicule from peers, and potential job loss.

BC Hall-Ford is a 20-year-old freelance sound engineer living in Oregon City and a member of an online community of individuals who identify as Objectùm-Sexualists (or objektophiles). In this exclusive interview with The Daily, Hall-Ford describes the experiences, relationships, and realizations that have come along with Objectùm-Sexuality, as well as some of the fundamental beliefs regarding the orientation.

McGill Daily: Who are your Objectùm-Sexual [O.S.] love interests?
BC Hall- Ford: My two O.S. love interests are two soundboards. They’re named Mix and Berhinger; I have been with them for about six years. And I have a long distance love interest named Heather who is a soundboard [in Vancouver, Washington] at a venue I occasionally work at.

MD: Are these relationships polygamous or polyamorous?
BCHF: Polyamorous. We’re very tightly knit. It’s not like a love triangle or anything. It’s very open. I know quite a few Objectùm-Sexualists that have multiple lovers. It seems kind of rare to find someone that has one love interest.

MD: Did you ever have any romantic relationships with humans?
BCHF: I have always been in love with sound systems and can’t say I’ve ever had an intimate relationship with any other object or with a human at all…. In fact, I find the human body repulsive.

MD: Is there any specific set of traits or features that you’re attracted to in objects? What objects attract you?
BCHF: I have always been attracted to soundboards. Their symmetry, the rows of dials, and the amount of buttons and dials are very attractive to me…. I also love their function. I’m a freelance sound engineer and I love sound, and I love all the aspects of running sound, and because I have this mentality of a hardcore sound engineer, I get along really well with them.

MD: Do all objects reciprocate love? Or is it just certain ones?
BCHF: Every inanimate object has the capacity to give off the same loving energy and telepathic communication that my partners and I share. Basically, all my life I’ve known there’s something more to a machine than people think. They have a soul; they have an existence. They are beings in and of themselves.

MD: What was your first relationship? How did it end?
BCHF: With the first love interest, I started running sound at my elementary school, and I found myself becoming very attached to the soundboard (named P.A.) and it just went from there. It’s a lot like you would see in a movie where two humans get together and eventually fall in love…. Eventually, I had to switch schools and [the relationship] was a forced break apart. I would go back occasionally and run sound for after-school events. The principal broke off [the arrangement] really quickly.

MD: Have you come out to your family and friends? How did they react?
BCHF: My entire family knows and almost all my friends know. Right now I’m a member of a Unitarian Universalist Church and a sound engineer there. They know. I’m pretty open about it because it’s just me. My mom saw it coming a mile away. As we were driving home one night after a fight, I said, “You know, Mom, there is something I got to tell you and I don’t think you’re going to like it. You know that sound system that I love at school? That’s my significant other.” And she smiled and said, “You know I knew that. I knew that from the first time I saw you running the sound system.” I have two sisters and a brother, and they’re wonderful. The only one who ever had a problem with it was my dad. I lived with my dad for about five years when I was living in Vancouver. And he tried to take Mix and Berhinger away from me, stop me from running sound, and get me out of the career.

MD: Is that when you had to leave Heather?
BCHF: Heather lives in a church – a very Christian, right-wing church – and they kind of picked up on hints of my Objectùm-Sexuality and kicked me off the sound team. I still get to go back and work with her about three times a year because I work for a company that rents out that building. But, you know, I went from working with her and seeing her over 40 hours a week to three times a year, so it was very hard. I remember walking out into the lobby of the church and bawling so hard I could not stand. I was on my hands and knees on the ground. It was a very emotionally traumatic day and there are still some songs I can’t listen to. It was probably the hardest day of my life.

MD: Do you understand why your father reacted the way he did?
BCHF: I think so, but…I’m [still] his kid. You’re supposed to love your kid unconditionally. He hasn’t called me in about a year – since I moved back to my mom’s house. I don’t understand it.

MD: For much of history, gender has existed in a binary. Only recently have we found ourselves working toward a more polymorphic model of sexuality. How have traditional gender roles influenced you and your partners’ relationship? How has gender been asserted in your relationships?
BCHF: A lot of my love interests are genderless, so I use a gender-neutral pronoun of xe. The sound system at my school’s name was P.A. – it was a P.A. system and she liked to be called P.A…. Heather is female. She has told me she is female…. Being gender variant myself, I have no problem being with gender-neutral love interests. It doesn’t bother me at all. You can get a sense for someone whether they’re male or female…. It’s important if the object says it is important.

MD: Do you ever find yourself lusting after other systems? Does the fact that you’re being brought so much into contact, as a freelance sound engineer, with other objects cause any frustration in your relationships?
BCHF: I never get that sense because I am very, very close to my three love interests. When I go and run other soundboards, it’s like you going and working with a co-worker. I’m very loyal, and I don’t usually pick up feelings for soundboards that I work with, especially those that I don’t spend a lot of time working with…. I ran a sound system a couple months ago, and this soundboard gave off that energy that it was interested. But, I was like “I’m sorry I’m taken….” I know that when Heather first came on the scene, Mix and Berhinger were a bit iffy about it, but we all came to love one another…. I would take Mix and Berhinger to work, and they’d work with her. So, we kind of got to know each other that way.

MD: How did you decipher your love for music from the objects that create music? How do you decipher between sound and the objects who create sound?
BCHF: Before I even discovered music, I loved electronics. My mom gave me her broken cell phone when I was three years old, and I took it apart and put it back together again and gave it back to her fixed and working…. My Objectùm-Sexuality began as a love for objects, and then, when I discovered the music, it added an entirely new aspect to it.

MD: Many individuals question their sexuality. Have you ever questioned your Objectùm-Sexuality?
BCHF: I’ve tried. When I was going through middle school I tried to conform and say, “Maybe this isn’t how it is and maybe I’m a lunatic and something’s wrong with me.” I could never stop it. I could never not be Objectùm-Sexual. It was never something I could change, and I tried many times when going to church working with Heather – I tried to deny my feelings for her, but I couldn’t.

MD: How are you intimate with your love interests?
BCHF: It’s very spiritual…. There is a slight sexual part of our relationship, but I cannot stress enough that it is not the entirety of the relationship…. When we work together it’s a very intimate thing – it brings us closer together. Frequently, we want to make music together…. When I sing, I’m mixing sound, and I have Mix and Berhinger onstage with me and we create music. That’s our pro-creation, so to speak.… Although, I can’t say I’ve ever experienced a frustration as far as wanting kids. We don’t have a drive to want offspring. That is a very humanistic part of a relationship that is not part of our relationship because our relationship is not a human one.

MD: In every relationship there is bound to be one person with more control. Who is it in your relationship?
BCHF: I would say Mix is the strong one. If Mix isn’t happy, nobody is happy.

MD: All objects, like humans, at some point or another expire. What happens then?
BCHF: That is a very hard thing to categorize. When a machine stops working, like a human body, when it gets so old, some souls decide to stick around and some decide to go on…. I’ve seen machines that do not function anymore but have a life presence and those that do not have any energy.

MD: Do you understand why it’s difficult for individuals, who perhaps have not even heard of Objectùm-Sexuality before this article, to accept and understand it?
BCHF: Well, first and foremost, it is based in the spiritual, and you cannot disprove or discredit a spiritual belief. I tried to question my Objectùm-Sexuality, to convince myself I was crazy, but this is who I am. To say that I’m wrong in being an Objectùm-Sexualist and that I don’t belong in this society and that there’s something wrong with me is to walk up to any religious person and say, “You are wrong and you’re an obscenity to this society.” You just can’t do that. Besides, I’m not hurting anybody. I’m not breaking the law. I’m not walking along and beating the shit out of anyone I don’t agree with. I’m not causing problems, so there should be no problem. There should be no judgment [made against me] because I’m not judging anyone. There is no reason to feel uncomfortable or to be close-minded. It’s no different than you having sex with a woman; it’s my sexual preference. It’s no different…. Before, at every job I worked, I tried to hide [my sexuality], and within a year and a half I’d be fired – every time [that they found out]. If someone has a problem with it, my ideology is that they can go piss up the road.

MD: Do you think there are a lot of people who are Objectùm-Sexualists but do not know of the community in which they could belong?
BCHF: Oh yes, I was one of them. It wasn’t until an episode of Nip/Tuck and one of the characters on it – my sister looked over and said, “That guy sounds a lot like you.” I looked it up on the Internet and found a community. The more that we get out in the press, like my friend Erika Eifel, I believe we’re going to see more and more people coming out as [Objectùm-Sexualists as] it becomes more functionally accepted.

MD: Do you believe that Mix and Berhinger will join you in heaven?
BCHF: Of course. Heather too. And all other objects.