Elisha Lim

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Elisha Lim
OccupationGraphic novelist, Illustrator
NationalityCanadian, Singaporean
GenreSocial commentary
Literary movementQueer, postcolonialism
Notable works100 Butches

Elisha Lim (born 1978) is an artist and graphic novelist living in Toronto. Lim advocates the use of the gender-neutral pronoun "they".[1][2] Lim is currently a University of Toronto PhD candidate, writing a thesis on social media and race.[3]

Early life[edit]

Elisha Lim was born in Toronto and attended Catholic convent primary and secondary schools in Singapore.[4] Their sister is the writer and cultural critic Thea Lim.


Graphic novels[edit]

Lim's upcoming graphic novel, 7 Dreams About You, is about the author's "effort to quit identity economics", and nightmares arising from past romantic relationships.[5]

Their first graphic novel, 100 Butches, is a collection of queer portraits and anecdotes amassed while travelling around the world.[4] It was due to be released in 2008 through Alyson Books, but many of Alyson's contracts were suspended as the publishing house sought a new buyer. When negotiations failed, its parent company switched Alyson to e-book only publishing in 2010, and several titles including 100 Butches were dropped.[6] Lim signed a new contract with Magnus Books in 2011. It has received gay media coverage regardless, which dubbed Lim a "Queer Woman to Watch" on afterellen.com,[7] and an "Artist in Residence" by Curve Magazine.[8] Lim also toured North America with Michelle Tea's queer writer's caravan Sister Spit, presenting excerpts from the novel. 100 Butches has been awarded grants by the Canada Arts Council and the Ontario Arts Council.


Since finishing 100 Butches, Lim has drawn a variety of comic strips. The Sweetest Taboo was a comic about children's pop culture in the 1980s[9] that ran in Capital Xtra!, "Queer Pioneers" ran in Diva Magazine, and the 12-panel wall calendar "Sissy" is a self-published celebration of femininity and sissydom.[10]

Art practice[edit]

Lim creates portraits of marginal subcultures out of traces or pastels, and usually incorporates anecdotes or captions in the subjects' own words.[11] Lim's exhibits include The Illustrated Gentleman at Allyson Mitchell and Deirdre Logue's FAG Gallery, 100% Mixed Race at the A-Space Gallery,[11] "Generations of Queers" at OCAD University,[12] Sissy at William Way Community Centre.

Personal life[edit]

Lim came out as queer in Berlin before moving back to Canada, where they credit the Asian Arts Freedom School for inspiring a turn to anti-racist activism.[13] Lim has organized and co-founded events in Toronto that promote queer and trans people of colour, including Fresh to Def[14] and Les Blues.[7] The Toronto Star called Lim a 'Celesbian',[13] and in 2012, Lim was called one of the Top 25 Significant Queers of 2011,[15] and one of 100 Canadian People of Colour activists.[16]


Lim pursued a music career until a fortune teller told Lim to quit and take up drawing.[17] Nevertheless, they play in a band called The Sex Appeals, whose members are queer people of colour, and whose music has been noted for having original "poppy hooks and quirky song titles";[18] their drummer, Nadine Forde, describes their music as "crotch pop". Other members include Ali Naqvi on synth, Sarah Creagen on violin, and Patrick Salvani on bass. Amongst other gigs, they have played at Toronto Pride and the Art Gallery of Ontario.[19]


Graphic novel[edit]

  • 100 Butches (Magnus Books, 2012, ISBN 978-1-936833-12-2)


  • Identity Politics Economics in C: International Contemporary Art, (143), 50+.


  • In Handbook : supporting queer and trans students in art and design education (OCAD University, [2018], ISBN 9781772520064)[20]
  • "Immigrants in solidarity with indigenous people" in The solidarity struggle : how people of color succeed and fail at showing up for each other in the fight for freedom (BGD Press, Inc., 2016. ISBN 9780988628656)[21]
  • "A Conversation about Art and Activism with Trans and Genderqueer People Labelled with Intellectual Disabilities" (illustrations) inTrans activism in canada: A reader (Canadian Scholars' Press Inc., 2014)[22]


  • "Queer Pioneers," Diva (magazine), about notable dead lesbians
  • "Sweetest Taboo," Capital Xtra!, 2009, memoirs of a gay child in the 80s
  • "Big Mama Thornton" Shameless Magazine Issue 13: Fall 2009
  • "The Illustrated Gentleman," No More Potlucks, 2010
  • "Gender Revolution," Women's Review of Books, July/August 2011
  • "100 Butches," Gay Genius edited by Annie Murphy, Sparkplug Books, 2011
  • "Trans ladies first" Bitch Magazine, Issue 52: Fall 2011
  • 100 Crushes, Koyama Press, June 2014. ISBN 9781927668061 [1]

Cover illustrations[edit]


  1. ^ a b Camper, Cathy (12 May 2014). "'100 Crushes' by Elisha Lim. Review". Lambda Literary Review. Los Angeles, California. Retrieved 22 July 2019.
  2. ^ Zoratti, Jen. "Features - Uptown". Uptownmag.com. Retrieved 2012-02-24.
  3. ^ "Elisha Lim - Women & Gender Studies InstituteWomen & Gender Studies Institute". wgsi.utoronto.ca. Retrieved 2019-11-28.
  4. ^ a b Luna Allison / Ottawa / Friday, July 03, 2009 (2009-07-03). "100 Butches: Looking at who counts with Elisha Lim". Xtra.ca. Archived from the original on 2010-08-31. Retrieved 2012-02-24.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  5. ^ "Exorcising the social media ghosts of relationships past". Document Journal. 2019-07-11. Retrieved 2019-11-28.
  6. ^ "Alyson Books Will Restructure as E-book Only House; Weise Leaves". Publishersweekly.com. 2010-10-01. Retrieved 2012-02-24.
  7. ^ a b "Queer Women to Watch: Spring 2009". AfterEllen.com. 2009-03-25. Archived from the original on 2011-12-06. Retrieved 2012-02-24.
  8. ^ "Elisha Li". Curvemag.com. Retrieved 2012-02-24.
  9. ^ Chris Dupuis / Toronto / Thursday, April 07, 2011 (2011-04-07). "Elisha Lim's illustrated gentlemen". Xtra.ca. Archived from the original on 2012-07-08. Retrieved 2012-02-24.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  10. ^ Curve Magazine March 2012
  11. ^ a b "A Space Gallery". A Space Gallery. 2012-01-20. Retrieved 2012-02-24.
  12. ^ "Elisha Lim Talks About Their Inclusion in Generations of Queer". OCAD University. 22 September 2014.
  13. ^ a b Florence Li Special to the Star (2011-06-23). "A school for Asian artists — queer or straight". thestar.com. Retrieved 2012-02-24.
  14. ^ Jorge Antonio Vallejos / Toronto / Thursday, July 30, 2009 (2009-07-30). "Queer people of colour rev up new party". Xtra.ca. Archived from the original on 2010-08-30. Retrieved 2012-02-24.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  15. ^ Editors, Vp. "Velvetpark's Official Top 25 Significant Queer Women of 2011". Velvetparkmedia.com. Retrieved 2012-02-24. {{cite web}}: |last= has generic name (help)
  16. ^ "Racism Free Ontario Initiative". Cassa.on.ca. 2011-12-10. Archived from the original on 2012-02-22. Retrieved 2012-02-24.
  17. ^ Tania De Rozario (28 November 2011). "Beyond Borders Dec 2011 :: Elisha Lim". Archived from the original on 2011-12-01.
  18. ^ "Elisha Lim's illustrated gentlemen". 6 April 2011. Archived from the original on 1 February 2012. Retrieved 27 February 2012.
  19. ^ "Turned on by The Sex Appeals - Sex Life Canada". www.sexlifecanada.ca.
  20. ^ "Handbook : supporting queer and trans students… | MARS | TinyCat". MARS Library. Retrieved 2019-11-28.
  21. ^ The solidarity struggle : how people of color succeed and fail at showing up for each other in the fight for freedom.
  22. ^ "Trans Activism in Canada". CSPI. Retrieved 2019-11-28.

External links[edit]