100 Crushes by Elisha Lim
Olympian Bruce Jenner’s April 24, 2015 interview with Diane Sawyer will likely be remembered as one of those critical moments for the LGBTQ community, especially those who identify as transgender. While every human being should be equally valued, Jenner’s hugely public persona will create a more focused spotlight on the transgender community.
Although it didn’t make quite the splash as Jenner’s identity announcements, last summer’s 100 Crushes by Toronto-based Elisha Lim surely deserves more attention. Given ongoing identity dialogues, Crushes is an important title to check out now more than ever.
According to Lim’s website bio, Lim “takes great pleasure in creatively portraying the beauty, dignity and power of being neither straight, nor white, nor cis-gendered”; they (Lim’s preferred pronoun) offer five years of their graphic work in a single, slim, WOW-inducing volume that examines the essence of being fluid, label-defying, label-reclaiming, self-defining … of just being. As if to emphasize the changing/morphing/being, what you’ll find on either side of the front and back covers are a double-page photograph of blank, crushed, then resmoothed white paper. That resmoothed blankness is what you see first once you open the book, and what you’ll notice last when you close it – such bookends seem to represent potential, yet with an acknowledgement of experiences in the still visible wrinkles that have marked the surface.
Lim’s compilation begins with “an excerpt of the most magical undertaking of my life” – 100 Butches, “an illustrated catalogue of 100 fabulous butch lesbians that I’ve encountered,” from family to strangers, from heroes to friends, from stars to inspirations. They continue with “Sweetest Taboo: Memoirs of a Queer Child in the Eighties,” when television and film actors – including Inspector Gadget and Corey Feldman, The Last Unicorn and The Neverending Story – shaped their young view of the world. They explore fashion in “The Illustrated Gentleman,” talk about “femme identity” in “Sissy: sissies and the femmes that inspire us,” remember their Singaporean school days in “The Sacred Heart,” discuss the “bold collective experiment with the pronounce ‘They,'” and reveal their “Jealousy” in relationships past.
Eschewing other people’s easy labels, Lim explores their identity through, with, because of others. Fluidity is all around … in Lim’s art, Lim’s writing, and in Lim’s being, creating important lessons for us all.
Readers: Young Adult, Adult