Here's a not so secret fact about me: I am, and have always been, a huge Jem and the Holograms fan. I was just the right age in the 80s when the show premiered, I was already big into Barbie, and I loved to sing. So a show about rad singing ladies with a talking computer who went on adventures that I could play out on my living room floor whenever I wanted to was pretty much guaranteed to be my favorite.
This love did not diminish with age.
When the first set of DVDs came out I found that I remembered every song perfectly even though I had not heard or sung them for the better part of ten years. I remembered most of the episodes, too. However, watching them with fresh eyes brought up a lot of questions I hadn't asked when I was a kid. Questions like:
- Why did no one ever arrest the Misfits? Their mischief was often actually criminal.
- How does Starlight Music survive as a company with such bad management and only one act?
- How did the creators get away with writing a whole episode about a romantic relationship between two women?
Yes, I'm taking about The Bands Break Up where both Kimber and Stormer feel so unappreciated by their respective bands that they flounce, end up in the same bar, discover that they make a good musical team, get involved in some scheme involving Eric Raymond, and end up falling in love.
As a kid I don't think I picked up on that last bit. But it's really obvious to me now.
I mean, that moment after the Holograms and Misfits come to confront them and Stormer says "The Misfits just want to exploit me. At least your group cares about you..." and the way Kimber says to her "I... care about you, Stormer." I MEAN MY GOD.
Plus, there's that whole thing where Stormer has a picture of Kimber by her bedside.
When I first had this idea I posted on my Jem fan mailing list (hush) asking if I was the only one who noticed this. Oh, Internet, I was so naïve then. Because of course everyone had noticed this — Kimber and Stormer were one of the most popular femslash pairings in the fandom.
This is likely why Jem comic writer Kelly Thompson was very excited to confirm that "Kimber and Stormer are gay" and that they will get a romantic relationship. Yes! And they won't be the only LGBTA+ characters in the world.
Jem was always really diverse, but it was of course a bit limited by the time period and by being a children’s cartoon. It’s only natural that a modern Jem includes additional diversity.
I'm all for this. I just see one little problem here: Kimber is not gay.
And no I don't mean The Term Is Lesbian because we know what she meant. I mean that if we accept that Kimber/Stormer is canon then that means Kimber is bisexual.
Among all the Holograms, Kimber was the one who got the most play. There were so many dudes lined up at her door that she accidentally scheduled a date with two of them on the same night. Dudes engaged in dangerous behavior for her attention and almost died. And she rewarded them by almost marrying them.
The show never shamed her for this. Rio once kicked a plant in anger about it, but Rio had problems. The whole Kimber's multiple boyfriends thing was usually played as: lots of men like her because she's open-hearted and sweet and talented. And the exact same qualities that made her attractive to the guys made her attractive to Stormer. This is explicit in the episode.
Cartoon Kimber was bisexual. Cartoon Stormer may have been, though her love life was not explored. Maybe she was a lesbian.
I want comic book Kimber to be bisexual as well. Because as radical as making her relationship with Stormer canon is, I would prefer they not erase her bisexuality to do it.
Bisexual erasure is a major problem in media and has been for quite some time. (If you want to read an academic paper on the pervasiveness of it and how it's harmful, here you go.) And this is usually how it happens. A character is shown to be genuinely attracted to the "opposite" gender when they're first introduced, then later they become involved with someone the same gender and suddenly they're gay or lesbian. (Hi Willow, we meet again.) What about all those other people before? Do they not count?
I honestly believe that Thompson doesn't mean to erase bisexual identities here. Many creators don't mean to do so when they do. In their minds, if a woman is in love with a woman she's a lesbian, full stop. That's what lesbian means, right?
Nevermind the guy she was in love with last year. And we won't even get into her relationships with trans men, trans women, that awesome genderqueer bartender in college, and any number of other genders she might be attracted to.
But I live in hope. Maybe Thompson will have the characters use the B word when referring to Kimber. Or maybe — and this would be awesome — when Kimber does end up with Stormer and people call her a lesbian, she will say, "I'm bisexual, thanks!" and a cheer will rise up from all corners of the world.
Like I said, I live in hope.
While we wait for that to happen, I'll share with you a fun fan mix I created for Kimber/Stormer shippers back in 2005. It's called Some People Want It All: