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What radical courage does it take to love in the face of hate? Through portraiture and personal narratives highlighting joy, belonging, found family and meaningful romantic and platonic relationships, KBIA’s Alphabet Soup challenges the notion that Missouri’s LGBTQ+ community is a monolith.Tucked away within the amalgamation of letters that makes up the LGBTQ+ community and the complex identities each represents is joy: rebellious, resistant, radiant. If you have a story you would like to share, visit https://tinyurl.com/LGBTQJoy or contact news@kbia.org.Created by Bailey Stover.

Fin Crowder & Emery Wakefield: “A queer platonic relationship is… a level above best friend.”

Fin Crowder, left, and Emery Wakefield talk together on Crowder’s bed on Thursday, March 28, 2024, at Crowder’s home in Columbia. The 22-year-olds have known each other since they were two years old. They are now in a queer platonic relationship. Crowder uses both ze/zim and they/them pronouns and is as nonbinary, agender, aromantic and asexual. Wakefield, who uses they/them pronouns, is nonbinary, asexual and biromantic. 

“I have weird quirks or things that are different, but oh, bro, I'm just another person on this planet. I just want to be respected like anyone else,” Wakefield said. “Everyone's different, even outside of, like, identity. People that have the same hobbies or the same interests or experiences, or similar experiences, they have a different take away from it, or they have a different experience with it. So, even within the same identity, everyone is a little bit different. And I think that also extends to outside the queer experience. Everyone's different. And I think that's important to remember and celebrate. It's not anything bad. It's important because if we were all the same things would be really boring.”
Bailey Stover / KBIA
Fin Crowder, left, and Emery Wakefield talk together on Crowder’s bed on Thursday, March 28, 2024, at Crowder’s home in Columbia. The 22-year-olds have known each other since they were two years old. They are now in a queer platonic relationship. Crowder uses both ze/zim and they/them pronouns and is as nonbinary, agender, aromantic and asexual. Wakefield, who uses they/them pronouns, is nonbinary, asexual and biromantic. “I have weird quirks or things that are different, but oh, bro, I'm just another person on this planet. I just want to be respected like anyone else,” Wakefield said. “Everyone's different, even outside of, like, identity. People that have the same hobbies or the same interests or experiences, or similar experiences, they have a different take away from it, or they have a different experience with it. So, even within the same identity, everyone is a little bit different. And I think that also extends to outside the queer experience. Everyone's different. And I think that's important to remember and celebrate. It's not anything bad. It's important because if we were all the same things would be really boring.”

Fin Crowder and Emery Wakefield are both nonbinary and asexual. They’ve been friends since they were young, and, today, live in a queer platonic relationship.

They spoke a little about their relationship and how they show love and support for each other.

Alphabet Soup shares LGBTQ+ Missourians’ stories through portraiture and personal narratives.

Fin Crowder: I use both nonbinary and a gender just because they both feel comfortable. It's both just kind of like this void of being in either box of male or female, I'm just kind of in the middle floating around. I also identify as a romantic and asexual.

Emery Wakefield: Well, some of the identities that I used to label myself would be non-binary, I'm not male or female, but I don't feel the need to define that any further. I'm just neither, that's the way it is. I'm asexual I don't experience sexual attraction to people.

I don’t know, this is a weird analogy – it's almost like a window shopping. For me, it's like that person is very nice looking. And that's about as far as that goes for me.

Fin Crowder: So, a queer platonic relationship is a sort of connection that kind of is similar to what you would feel with a romantic attraction, but it doesn't have the romantic elements. It's very much just a strong connection to someone, I like to describe it as like a level above best friend–

"We actually have a running joke that we share the same brain cell."
Fin Crowder

Emery Wakefield: I also use the term “ride or die,” or like, you know, “I’m always gonna be there for you.”

Fin Crowder: I can't see a future without having this person in it. For me, it's like, you know, I've been friends with Em for most of my life, and this is the person that I want to make sure it's in my life for the rest of my life.

Emery Wakefield: It's like having a platonic soulmate or a platonic life partner. When I envisioned as a future, Fin's always there, regardless of what might happen. It's like, well, I want to make sure Fin's around, you know?

Fin Crowder: I think our relationship – even before we identified it is like queer platonic – has been, since like high school, it's been that.

I mean, there was always jokes that people would be like, you know, we were glued to each other. We were always together.

I remember you told me one time that the principal walked by and said, “Where's your other half?” Like, we were always doing things together, I mean, it was very easy to happen because I could drive and you couldn't, we have classes together.

So, I’d be like, “Okay, we're going home,” and I'd drive you home, but anytime I think of doing something the first person I think of like, “Oh, should I bring someone?” I think of you because it's like, you know, I want to do things with you all the time.

A GIR plush from the cartoon Invader Zim sits between Fin Crowder, left, and Emery Wakefield on Thursday, March 28, 2024, at Crowder’s home in Columbia. “I had gotten myself a plush years ago while watching the show,” Crowder said. “I have a crappy memory at times and somehow ended up forgetting I got it for myself, so my mom ended up buying me another one. I ended up with two and gave my extra to Emery since I knew they loved the show as well, and they were part of the reason I was introduced to the show. It was a simple, silly gift, but it’s one of the things that we both have because of our similar interests. And it always reminds me of them and the silly story when I see it.”
Bailey Stover / KBIA
A GIR plush from the cartoon Invader Zim sits between Fin Crowder, left, and Emery Wakefield on Thursday, March 28, 2024, at Crowder’s home in Columbia. “I had gotten myself a plush years ago while watching the show,” Crowder said. “I have a crappy memory at times and somehow ended up forgetting I got it for myself, so my mom ended up buying me another one. I ended up with two and gave my extra to Emery since I knew they loved the show as well, and they were part of the reason I was introduced to the show. It was a simple, silly gift, but it’s one of the things that we both have because of our similar interests. And it always reminds me of them and the silly story when I see it.”

Emery Wakefield: I would describe Fin as maybe the best person you could ever have at your side. And in any given situation. Ze always seems to know what is going on or what to do or anything like that.

Fin Crowder: There are so many things that they know about and know how to do. If you're ever trying to remember a Simpsons reference, they've got it.

They have a lot of knowledge of what you could call obscure things, but they just have a lot and are available basically as a walking encyclopedia next to you.

"It's like having a platonic soulmate or a platonic life partner."
Emery Wakefield

And I think that's just nice to have as someone who can help you throughout life.

Emery Wakefield: It's like, I'm the person that can give someone a fun fact, but you're the person that knows how to get to where we're going in the car.

Fin Crowder: Only sometimes.

Laughter

Fin Crowder: We actually have a running joke that we share the same brain cell. It was two, but then we had an incident in high school where one of them died.

So, we share the same brain cell, and so, we'll jokingly message each other like, one time a couple weeks ago, you were like, “Hey, I need the brain cell on Thursday. I have a quiz” and I was like, “Cool, you can have it. I'll just play video games.”

Emery Wakefield: I appreciate that. I passed the quiz. I did very well.

Fin Crowder: That’s good to hear.

Bailey Stover is a multimedia journalist who graduated in May 2024. She is the creator and voice of "Alphabet Soup," which runs weekly on KBIA.
Rebecca Smith is an award-winning reporter and producer for the KBIA Health & Wealth Desk. Born and raised outside of Rolla, Missouri, she has a passion for diving into often overlooked issues that affect the rural populations of her state – especially stories that broaden people’s perception of “rural” life.
Nick Sheaffer is the photo editor for KBIA's Alphabet Soup. He graduated with a Bachelor's in Journalism from the University of Missouri in May 2024.
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