While on a trip to Yosemite in early 2013, Sasha and the other students from Maybeck were forced to evacuate the park because the “Rim Fire, the third-largest wildfire in California history,” was barreling toward their campsite. As they evacuated, Sasha climbed into the back of a truck with Nemo, a student who was a year younger. “We were both freaking out,” Nemo now explains. “That was our first date.”
Nemo and Sasha’s first date is certainly nontraditional, much like their relationship. However, both Sasha and Nemo are comforted during a stressful situation by their relationship, and this comfort is mirrored throughout the rest of Slater’s book. Since both Sasha and Nemo are nonbinary, they are well aware of the challenges that the other experiences in a gendered society.
Nemo identifies as gender fluid and uses gender neutral pronouns as well. To Nemo, “gender fluid means I have the potential to be anything, any gender at any time.” Sasha and Nemo know each other from Maybeck’s “Queer Club” and they spent some time together before the fire, but their “relationship sort of sprang fully-formed on that camping trip.” Their relationship is “confusing,” since Sasha is aromantic and Nemo is asexual, but they “complement each other.” Just like in their favorite comic, Homestruck, Nemo is Sasha’s “moirail,” or “most important person,” like “a soul mate maybe, but not in the romantic sense.”
Nemo and Sasha’s relationship proves that meaningful relationships do not necessarily have to adhere to heteronormative, or even homosexual, stereotypes. Nemo and Sasha’s relationship underscores the fact that gender, sexuality, and romance are considered independent of one another by many within the LGBTQ community. Their relationship is not sexual or romantic, and it doesn’t assume that they are one gender or the other.