The woman who married the Eiffel Tower wants to set the record straight

Erika Labrie changed her surname to Eiffel after a commitment ceremony in 2007. Photo / Supplied
Erika Labrie changed her surname to Eiffel after a commitment ceremony in 2007. Photo / Supplied

For a big portion of her life, Erika's sexual orientation has been met with almost universal condemnation or disdain.

No, she's not a lesbian confined to a fundamentalist Christian community, she's an Objectum Sexual (OS). Objectum Sexuality is the inclination to develop significant relationships with inanimate objects.

"Everyone has a type they are drawn to. That includes OS people."

Erika about to hug the Eiffel Tower. Photo / Supplied
Erika about to hug the Eiffel Tower. Photo / Supplied

That's Erika Labrie, who in 2007 changed her surname to Eiffel after a commitment ceremony to her partner of 10 years - the Eiffel Tower.

"I find my type is an object that's misunderstood by the world. The Eiffel Tower is surrounded by millions of tourists who are in love with each other, not with her."

Erika is the somewhat reluctant face and head of Objectum Sexuality Internationale, a group of 400+ like-oriented individuals from around the world, and it's a role that comes with an almost endless succession of obstacles.

Back in 2008, not long after the wedding ceremony, the documentary Married to the Eiffel Tower exploded online. Featuring Erika and a few of her peers, the work fascinated audiences for what the OS community considers the wrong reasons.

"This documentary raised misconceptions that OS people were inclined towards objects for the sake of control due to factors such as abuse and mental illness", she explains.

"Numbers suggest that most have no more issues than a normal cross-section of society."

Making matters worse for the group, the film conveniently left out the emotional or spiritual side of these unconventional relationships and ramped up the sexual component, reducing depictions to at best fetishistic, and at worst, downright crazy.

When asked how the doco and her orientation in general has affected her day-to-day life, Erika is resilient. "OS has naturally caused me rejection from friends and family but it has also powered me to great achievements in my life. I am a four-time world champion due to the loving relationship I've had with my Japanese sword, archery bow, and even my tower crane that I operate." (Note: Erika is a world-class competitive archer).

After 10 years with the Eiffel Tower, Erika's relationship came to a close and she's since entered something new and as she describes it: "loving".

As you can probably imagine, Erika isn't jumping to share the specifics about her new partner, but has this to say about the tower: "I have accepted defeat. However Eiffel will always have a place in my heart. That is something the media cannot carve out of my chest. Though at times it feels as if they have tried."

As it's difficult for some people to empathise with such a radical orientation, I tried to find parallels in my own life, and asked if OS is, on some level, an extension of the loving nostalgia we hold towards certain objects. Say, a relative's ring, or a childhood toy.

"I always say that everyone is closet OS but they simply don't know it yet. These sentimental relationships that people have with some objects are very similar to how we feel. However, most don't have the instinct to develop a deeper connection."

To those who want to put Erika's orientation down to past trauma, she knew of her OS tendencies since childhood. "I didn't realise I was different until my teens when others started dating each other and I had deep feelings for a local bridge."

And to those who want to reduce her orientation to a lack of success with human beings, Erika offers the following: "I have always maintained good friendships with people and been very social but I have never felt drawn towards any romantic relationship. Despite early attempts to date due to the pressure to conform, it never worked. It felt very alien to me."

The OS community isn't going to see legitimacy any time soon, and they have no expectations for that level of acceptance, yet they feel it important to maintain the same terminology when referring to human-to-human connections, such as 'dating', 'marriage', 'breakup' and 'divorce'.

Erika's perfect world is where everyone realises that happiness doesn't come with a blanket definition, and that you can't judge someone's take on happiness by your own. In the past, friends and family have attempted to dictate what should make her happy, which naturally, only made her more unhappy.

"I think OS would be more openly accepted once people realised how harmless we really are. We are different, but we are harmless".

I guess that's the main takeaway from our chat. I'm not sure how I feel about living in a world where Objectum Sexuality is legitimised, but I'm not sure I want to live in one so insensitive that reduces it to a sordid punchline either. It doesn't seem helpful in the human quest for greater equality or broader understanding.

It's extremely difficult terrain to navigate, but one thing's for certain - it doesn't seem OS is going anywhere anytime soon.

- news.com.au

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