When we talk about desire, we are so often also talking about gender. But, Keyonis Johnson has created a hashtag which appreciates desire outside of the binary hashtags #MCM (“Man Crush Monday”) or #WCW (“Woman Crush Wednesday”).
One sees a pretty face and assumes, then develops a desire for, one’s assumptions about the person’s body, about the particular way(s) the person intends and prefers for their body to be engaged. One arrives at a conclusion about the person’s body based on facial hair, it’s lack, the pitch of a voice, the person’s clothing. One considers the person who has just walked into the room with regard to one’s own embodiment, what one takes pleasure in receiving and giving. The thoughts are immediate and thankless. We blow up group chats with laughing emojis at our friend’s, and our own, thirst for bodies we’ve already assigned so many obligations to in the work of pleasuring us.
What do our desires say about us? What of a desire we cannot name, one that we may even refuse to vocalize a desire for? And what might the absence of a name for that desire to do a person – both the desirous and desired? What is the relationship between being desired and living what one might call a “healthy” life? Is it ever really not that deep when we desire and gender people so often that it is a part of being alive and present in any room?
“It was just on a random Wednesday,” Keyonis Johnson recalls, “when I was making somebody else my #WCW, and I was just thinking I haven’t been anybody’s #WCW in a long time and I was just thinking, well, my pronouns changed to they/them so how could I be?”
Johnson subsequently started the hashtag #ThouCrushThursday, which is being increasingly used by people who identify beyond the gender binary.
“There’s not really a definitive place for non-binary people,” Johnson explains. “I feel like people are just starting to catch on non-binary identities, now. I don’t want to call it a trend, but it’s something that’s becoming more visible. I think the non-binary identity is under the trans umbrella, but I feel like it’s lost under that umbrella, too. The trans identity and the non-binary identity I feel are two different experiences. For the most part if you identify as trans you identify in the binary, but for non-binary people there’s still that cloud of where are you, that pressure to choose within the binary. That question of what do you mean you’re not a girl or you’re not a boy? What do you mean you’re somewhere in between?”
The American Dialect Society (ADS) is among those beginning to catch on to non-binary identities. In 2015, the ADS made “they” the word of the year, defining it contextually as a “gender-neutral singular pronoun for a known person, particularly as a non-binary identifier.”
Seeing how quickly people have begun to embrace the hashtag, Johnson is now moving towards crewnecks that make a statement: No Binaries Allowed.
“The crewnecks are making a statement and causing dialogue,” they said. “People see that crewneck and see that I’m not choosing a side and they ask questions. I think those conversations are necessary.”
One is wont to wonder about the impact of crewnecks on people who are already hyper-visible to the point of danger, but Johnson remains confident that for the most part, “if you’re comfortable enough to wear a sweatshirt that makes that statement then you’re comfortable enough to have that conversation, otherwise you wouldn’t wear it. Or you’re an ally or in support and also willing to have that conversation on behalf of someone who identifies as non-binary but isn’t willing to have that conversation.”