At OUTMemphis, we are honoring LGBTQ Seniors Celebration Month with an acknowledgement of the LGBTQ elders who have pushed to make America a place where LGBTQ people have equal rights and are safe, respected, and celebrated.
Every week we will be highlighting an LGBTQ person over 50 whose work has impacted the lives of LGBTQ people nationwide.
Cyndi Lauper (1953)
Cyndi Lauper is both a musical icon and a fierce advocate for LGBTQ rights. Lauper has won nearly every accolade imaginable over the course of her career, including Grammys, Tonys, Emmys, an MTV Music Award, Billboard Awards, and American Music Awards. She has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame and was inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame. Her 1983 debut single Girls Just Want to Have Fun has endured as a feminist, anti-racist, and gender positive song and video over 30 years later. Her talents are not just confined to Pop music, but also include Blues (Memphis Blues) and Soundtracks (The Goonies). She created the original score for the LGBT Broadway classic Kinky Boots, and has both broken awards records and raised needed funds for HIV/AIDS care and research with it.
Lauper is bisexual, and gives credit for her lifetime of activism to her lesbian sister. She served on the Matthew Shepard Foundation Board, fundraised for the Human Rights Campaign with her True Colors tour, and then focused her activism on supporting LGBTQ homeless youth. Lauper launched the Forty to None project to raise awareness about how prevalent LGBTQ youth homelessness is, opened the True Colors Residence in New York City to provide housing to youth living on the street, and then founded the True Colors Fund, which provides support and technical assistance to LGBTQ youth homelessness work all over the U.S., including in Memphis.