The Top Ten Lei Stories of 2021

A look back at the most popular online stories this year.

In 2021, a sense of community was more vital than ever. After almost two years of living socially-distanced lives, many of us found solace in coming together in any way we can. This celebration of community seems to be reflected in the year’s top stories for Lei, where articles on kinship and collaboration proved to be the most popular. From a primer on starting your own queer bookclub by writer Mitchell Kuga to an affirmation of the bisexual community from photographer Marie Hobro, this year’s stories prove that through all the challenges, we will always find ways to come together.

10. “Trading Spaces with Donnie Cervantes” by Kylie Yamauchi

Image by Skye Yonamine

Art enthusiast Donnie Cervantes aims to establish a cross-cultural exchange of ideas between local and visiting artists.

9. “So, You Wanna Start a Queer Book Club?” by Mitchell Kuga

Illustration by Alohawares

Four book club organizers from across the country share insights on curation to accessibility. Consider this your starter pack to congregating your own literary haven.

8. “An Illustrated Deep Dive Into the Bubble_T Designer’s Psyche” by Mitchell Kuga

Artwork by Koji Yamamoto

Illustrator and designer Koji Yamamoto lends his psychedelic gaze and kawaii aesthetics to Bubble_T’s roving party scene.

7. “The Whole Craft Itself Is Artificial in Nature: A Conversation on Queering Photography” by Vincent Bercasio and Jason Chu

Images by Jason Chu (left) and Vincent Bercasio (right)

Vincent Bercasio and Jason Chu—two Honolulu-based photographers with contrasting approaches—collaborate on a joint fashion essay where movement, kitsch, and gender clash

6. “No Ordinary Papi Juice Party” by Calla Camero

Image by Kevin Aranibar-Molina

The New York-based collective Papi Juice turns up the volume on representation and gets down in solidarity.

5. “For Panthera Lush, Everyday is an Act of Self-Creation” by Calla Camero

Image by Alika Hall

Now an established figure in Brooklyn’s drag scene, Hawai‘i’s Alika Hall serves up presence, burlesque, racy reveals, and strip tease as Panthera Lush.

4. “Meet the Filmmakers Who Documented Kauai’s First Pride Parade” by Marc Graser and Eunica Escalante

Image by Mark Miller

In an exclusive interview, Colors of Kaua‘i filmmakers Mark Miller and Nick Longo reminisce on capturing LGBTQ history.

3. “Reise Kochi’s Intrepid Adornments Make a Statement” by Natalie Schack

Image by John Hook

Pairing face chains and leather harnesses with mu‘umu‘u and straw hats, the stylist and designer offers lessons on how to make the avant-garde work in Hawai‘i.

2. “Keala Kennelly is Surfing Against the Current” by Kylie Yamauchi

Image by Chris Rohrer

The pioneer for women’s big wave surfing has made a career out of defying norms and challenging expectations.

1. “How Six Women of Color Define Being Bisexual” by Marie Hobro

Images by Marie Hobro

Bisexual O‘ahu photographer Marie Hobro casts a personal and affirming light on a widely misinterpreted community.