Once again, the overwhelmingly innovative and talented pop star, songstress, producer and colorful creator of magic Cyndi Lauper, along with some friends, will be featuring her annual Home for the Holidays concert on Saturday, December 3, at 8 p.m. at the beautiful Beacon Theatre in New York City.
This will be her sixth year presenting this effervescent event to raise awareness of the homeless situation that plagues LGBTQ youth and to raise money for The True Colors Fund, which strives to illuminate homelessness for LGBTQ youth.
Besides performances by lauper, artists including Aloe Blacc, Ballets with a Twist, Billy Corgan and Tyler Glenn will be appearing. The event will be hosted by Carson Kressley and will truly be a night to remember. I caught up with lauper upon her return from Oz, and was able to discuss the progress of True Colors, as well as what’s next for her in 2017.
It seems that you have accomplished quite a bit thus far with the True Colors Fund. What are your goals for the year to come?
We have a lot in store for next year. The bulk of what the True Colors Fund does is provide free training and education to homeless youth service providers across the country to ensure they are providing safe, inclusive and welcoming services for LGBTQ youth, and we also work with entire communities, like Nashville, Los Angeles, Atlanta and many more, to create the systems that will actually prevent and bring an end to youth homelessness. The list of agencies and communities that want our help is growing so quick that we are working to make sure we can continue to meet the need. We will be doing all of that while also working in Washington, D.C., to make sure that all of the progress we have made the past four years to end youth homelessness with the current administration is not lost. There is so much uncertainty about what to expect, but we are shifting some of our staff down to our D.C. office from our headquarters in NYC to make sure that we are doing all we can on that front.
How involved are you with the White House on this project?
I am so proud of what the True Colors Fund has been able to do with the White House and the federal government over the past four years. From the ground-breaking initiative we have been doing with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development to test ways to prevent LGBTQ youth from becoming homeless in Cincinnati and Houston the past two years to co-hosting annual policy briefings on youth homelessness with the White House and the U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness, President Obama and his administration have moved the needle forward in so many meaningful ways. I am so grateful to them.
What is At the Intersections?
At the Intersections is our new online report that we partnered with the National LGBTQ Task Force on. It is the most comprehensive and in-depth resource to date about LGBTQ youth homelessness and the issues and identities that intersect with the lives of LGBTQ youth, thus the name of the report. What was really great about this report is that it is a living resource that will continue to be updated as we learn more by the 60-plus organizations that helped to write and create the report. And, the report was reviewed and edited by LGBTQ youth who have experienced homelessness, who are the real experts. I encourage everyone to check the report out at attheintersections.org.
Besides the sixth-annual Home for The Holidays, is this a project you work at all year?
Yes, [there is] a lot of work put into our annual Home for the Holidays event. The minute I’m off stage, [I’m] already planning the next one. Who should I invite? Which songs should I perform? How do I improve it with each event? A lot of work is put into it each year. I am very proud with what we have accomplished. To think this is our sixth year. I am very pleased!
What is new with you? What have you been up to lately?
I just came back from the Detour tour and tons of promo in Australia for Kinky Boots. And now I am gearing up for this year’s Home for the Holidays event, which I am pretty excited about. We have tons of amazing talents taking part in this year’s event. [We’ve] been in non-stop rehearsal to make this year’s event another successful one. I hope you can make it out this year and see what kinds of surprises I have for you!
Will you be releasing any new music next year?
I am planning to tour Japan and Australia in 2017. I am working on another musical, which I am pretty excited about. Once I finish that I will start my next CD. Yes, plenty of things happening in 2017.
In the six years that you and all the other amazing artists have been donating their time and talent, has the 40% homeless rate decreased?
One of the big problems we face with ending youth homelessness in America is that we do not have a proven way of tracking if the numbers of youth experiencing homeless is going down or up. There is a huge $4 million research project at Chapin Hall at the University of Chicago that will finally figure this puzzle out. Once they do, we will finally be able to answer this question. What I do know is that the number of homeless youth service providers and communities that are ensuring safe, inclusive and welcoming services and support for LGBTQ is growing fast. Also, really important is that we have made major advancements on figuring out how we can prevent LGBTQ from becoming homeless, and that is a game changer. We still have a lot of work to do, and I mean a lot, but we have been able to lay down a strong foundation to move this work to a whole new level.
Do you have any new success stories that stand out in your mind regarding these homeless LGBT youths?
There are a lot of successes that we can celebrate, but one that I am really excited about is a game-changing 10-community project that will be getting underway shortly through the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. I was honored to testify in the U.S. Senate last year in support of the project, and I am proud of Congress for allocating $42.5 million for the effort. For the first time we will really be able to figure out what we need to do in communities to end youth homelessness and move beyond just the immediate crisis. I am also excited that HUD will be hiring many of our youth leaders to help move the project.