On June 6th, the National Geographic Taboo show, Forbidden Love, will air an episode called "In Love with the Berlin Wall." This episode features Erika Eiffel, one of the world's foremost activists for the Objectum Sexuality (OS) community. Because I've done some research and written about OS, I was filmed as one of the program's "experts." I had the easy job of making rather academic comments while sitting in front of a green screen.
Unlike Erika, I was not asked to bare my soul on camera.
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This is the third time I've been paired with Erika on national television. I was asked for comments on Good Morning America (April 9, 2009) which was pre-taped, and I lost my live talk show virginity to the Tyra Show (Oct. 2, 2009). Appearing on national media is a kind of reputation-teetering exercise not necessarily condusive to heightening self-esteem. I mean, you may confront yourself on the screen and find yourself thinking: "my hair sucks, my lipstick isn't even noticable... why did I wear that? I look terrible!" And there's not a darn thing you can do to change it. I am at least happy that I've always liked how I've sounded. There's a real art in learning how to put across a collection of decent sound bites - never knowing what will actually be chosen for public consumption. So far, as a novice, I've been fortunate.
There's also the cruel aftermath to worry about. When programs about Objectum Sexuality air (or are posted on YouTube), there is an inevitable spewing of vicious commentary. It can be unnerving. I've been referred to as a "nutcase" and worse. The people who really hate me always put "sexologist" in quotes, as if I've simply concocted the title and my degree out of thin air. I've learned to not take this stuff personally and to examine the commentary as if I were taking the pulse of a profoundly out of whack culture. Which it is. But the comments about Erika and other OS people are far, far worse - and would not be tolerated (in most civilized circles) if they were directed at queer folk, ethnic minorities, or people with disabilities. Portrayals of OS seem to really trigger misogyny and other forms of hatred and fear in a lot of people, male and female alike.