For Grammy, Tony and Emmy award-winning artist Cyndi Lauper, ensuring equal protection and services for today’s youth is an undeniable passion.
“I’m a musician,” she says. “I have a voice. Some might say I have a big mouth. I call it a gift. Let me use my gift to make a difference for the community I love.”
Making a difference
Back in 2007, Lauper took part in the True Colors tour, and it changed her life. “My eyes were opened to the fact that 40 percent of the 1.6 million youth experiencing homelessness are LGBTQ,” she explains. “I felt for these kids.”
The following year, Lauper co-founded the True Colors Fund, and visited homeless shelters and community centers to learn all she could about providing assistance.
“Many service providers want to be safe and welcoming for LGBTQ youth, but don’t have the knowledge or resources to do so. The True Colors Fund fills that space by offering free training, resources and guidance on how to best meet the unique needs of LGBTQ youth experiencing homelessness,” says Lauper, whose global record sales total more than 50 million.
The struggle is real
“It was hard for me growing up, and I’m straight. I had haters, but I didn’t have people telling me I was fundamentally flawed because my sexual orientation or gender identity didn’t meet their expectations,” the singer says.
“I think the biggest issue LGBTQ youth face are the forces that tell them it isn’t okay for them to be who they truly are. That sort of rejection doesn’t just hurt on the inside — it jeopardizes your well-being.
“Say your parent kicks you out for being gay. Where do you go? What do you do for money? What happens if you get hurt or sick?” she probes. “If we can make sure these young people are safe and accepted in their communities, we can set them up for success.”
Three years ago, Lauper spoke at the first 40 to None Summit, a national gathering of individuals working to prevent and end LGBTQ youth homelessness. She continues to play in active role in the conference, while encouraging others to use their voices.
“On Wednesday, April 26, thousands across America will participate in #40toNoneDay,” she notes of the national day to raise awareness about the fact that 40 percent of youth experiencing homelessness are LGBTQ.
Changing the world
“On #40toNoneDay, folks post unselfish selfies with written messages of support for LGBTQ kids experiencing homelessness. The un-selfie is powerful. By putting your face to a cause you care about, you really own it. It’s a display of unity that last year reached over 98 million people online. This year, we plan to break the internet.
“We just released our annual 40 of the 40 list, which highlights 40 LGBTQ youth who have experiences with homelessness. Past honorees have gone on to become national spokespeople, work in government, get involved in community projects and even speak at the White House. These are the emerging activists, artists and educators leading us into the future,” Lauper sums. “That is where my hope lies.”
Cindy Riley, [email protected]