Hot on the heels of the success of the Jem and the Holograms comes the spin-off series for their rivals, The Misfits. The second issue recently dropped and it focuses on band member Stormer (real name Mary Phillips), especially on her struggle as a plus-sized lesbian in the media spotlight. Growing up as both fat and gay, I can completely relate to Stormer's story.
The issue, written by Kelly Thompson and drawn by Jenn St-Onge, opens with Stormer preparing to speak to the camera in a Real World-style video confessional for The Misfit's new reality show. Then the story flashes back to a few moments prior, when Stormer asks to speak to her best friend (and Misfits leader) Pizzazz away from the looming presence of the cameras and crew. The producer explains that the girls all signed contracts allowing their every move to be filmed, and that Stormer's conversation with Pizzazz is therefore part of the show, until Stormer blurts out that she didn't sign, so they can't film anything without her permission. The crews and cameras leave the girls to talk in private. Away from the prying cameras, Pizzazz asks Stormer why she was the only member not to sign the contract. Mary explains to her bandmate that she refused to sign for fear that she wouldn't be able to handle being a representative of plus-sized LGBT people in the media.
The comic then flashes back to to Mary's childhood, as a cute chubby girl who finds joy in writing and emotional release in singing. Mary dreams of making music her career, and auditions as a singer for a school band. Even the merciless teasing by her classmates about her weight doesn't dissuade her from trying out. To Mary, not auditioning is like letting the bullies win.
Flash forward three years, and Mary is singing onstage at a club, with a rapt Pizzazz in the audience. Mary’s two other bandmates bicker with each other and ignore her, eventually breaking up the band and leaving her behind. Pizzazz sidles up to Mary and breaks the bad news to her, but softens the blow with an offer to form a new, better band together with, telling Mary that she's got a storm inside her. Encouraged by Pizzazz’s enthusiasm and faith in her talents, the newly christened Stormer accepts the offer.
Later, Pizzazz and Stormer are performing on stage when a heckler screams, "GET THE WHALE OFF THE STAGE!" This sends Pizzazz in a rage, and she jumps on the heckler and gives him a bloody nose. Pizzazz is arrested and charged with assault. When the Misfits post the bail for their leader's release, Stormer exclaims how grateful she is that her friend defended her, but that she can't go around beating up everyone who puts her down for her weight. Pizzazz gleefully responds with "Yes, I can."
A week before the filming of the Misfit's reality show, Mary attends a meeting with the producers. They discuss how they want to focus on her romance with Kimber (a member of their rival band Jem and the Holograms) as well as build a narrative around her size and "her efforts to lose weight" in hopes of attracting sponsors for diet products. Mary throws her script away in disgust and storms off in anger.
The story returns to Pizzazz and Stormer's private meeting away from the cameras, discussing Mary's reticence to be a representative for both LGBT and fat people. Pizzazz states that Mary is the bravest and fiercest person she knows, which convinces Stormer that she sign on and will do the show, but it will be she who sets the narrative, not the producers. In the video confession booth, Stromer explains that growing up as a lesbian and a person of size, she felt always felt othered, and the world sometimes seems like it's disgusted by her existence. But she also says that if she hides and pretends she doesn't exist, the world will never get any smarter and the people that hate gay and fat people will win. Mary finally realizes why Pizzazz named her "Stormer" because she will TEAR...YOU...UP.
This issue really resonated deeply with me, because just like Mary, I grew up as a fat gay kid in a world that was disgusted by my existence. Classmates mercilessly poked fun at my weight and my inability to adapt the macho attitude that was expected from boys my age. Years of exposure to this constant harassment and hatred was scarring, and convinced me that I was unworthy of happiness and love. Between this and other traumas in my life, I spent most of my late twenties and early thirties binge eating, until eventually, I weighed 450 pounds, and didn’t pursue men romantically out of fear of rejection. It took a long time for me to realize that I have just as much a right to be whatever size I am, as I do to love someone of the same sex.
I eventually dropped down to 300 pounds—which I did for myself and my health, not for others—and started putting myself out there on the gay dating scene. Despite my fear of rejection, I have found that I am wanted and desired by plenty of men, especially in the bear community. I wish I could go back and tell my younger self that I do matter and that I am worthy of love. Because as Stormer says, by refusing to hide from a world that is disgusted by the existence of fat LGBT people, we are the ones who win.