True Colors: Interview with Cyndi Lauper
Music legend Cyndi Lauper is beloved for her bold vocals, as well as her poetic musical phrasing. She’s a genius of a rare kind, with power to appeal to audiences across the spectrum. On top of that, Lauper just happens to be one of the most passionate straight allies to the queer community ever. As an expression of that, she’s sweeping the nation with her True Colors Tour, which blends energies with various queer organizations, including the True Colors Fund of Stonewall Community Foundation.
When the True Colors Tour lands at the Target Center in Minneapolis on June 9, fasten your seat belts, because Lauper will be joined by “Queer Eyed” Carson Kressley, Rosie O’Donnell, the B-52s, Tegan & Sarah, and megahip The Cliks. We look forward to hearing her queer-inspired new tune “Same Ol’ Story,” from her new Bring Ya to the Brink CD.
What inspired you to do the True Colors Tour?
This was something that I had always wanted to do—my own tour. I thought it would be fun to do something with friends. They wanted to call it True Colors. It’s very important, because PFLAG is launching a whole campaign called Straight For Equality.
When I grew up and saw the civil rights movement, and Martin Luther King Jr. was speaking about freedom, I saw white people stand with black people, and say discrimination is wrong. Hate is wrong, based on differences like this. People are human beings. So, that stuck with me.
Now, I see it in the [GLBT] community. The community is being and has been discriminated against. Still, in 31 states, you could be fired from a job if you’re even suspected of being GLBT. Of course, transgender people really get the hard end of discrimination.
So, this year, we’re partnering with PFLAG and Human Rights Campaign with a whole campaign highlighting registering to vote. It’s about how to register to vote. I figure if you know how to register, then it’s easier for you. Because if you want inclusion, you need to include yourself. I’m not going to tell you whom to vote for. I’m going to show you how to register.
And partnering with community centers is a part of that. Queer community centers are a safe space for queer youth.
We’re partnering with CenterLink, which is an outreach program for the LGBT community. The youth are being discarded and discriminated against and harassed. There are lots of transgender youth. Youth is our future.
You see, if you embrace everyone, you have a real society that includes everyone. You have a stronger society. In an exclusive society, your society is weak, and it’s bottomless. It has no legs if you don’t have all the people. If you’re going to carry a load, and fix a problem, you need all the people. You can’t just do it with some of the people.
[Lack of] education is another discriminatory tool. If you have no education, and you can’t speak the language of education or business, you are fucked.
So, stand up. Be with your friends—the people that love you. They got your back. I got your back. Stand up. Stand up in your spot. Everybody in this world has a specific spot you were born into. That’s your spot. You stand there, and you empower it. You are a powerful being. We are all powerful. We really are. Speak your voice. Raise your voice. This is the time.
Where does your compassion come from? I’ve read that as a child, you identified with outsiders.
Well, I was a bit of an outsider. I got to see discrimination against people I loved firsthand. My mom was a waitress with aspirations, and the cards were stacked up against her, because she was a woman.
And I always felt that it was a blessing that I grew up with my sister, who is a member of the community, and my friend, who came out when I was 14.
And then, it was so retarded, because I had the opposite thing. I had to come out to them, and say I was straight—I wasn’t gay. Every one of my friends came out. Then, it was kind of like they hung out, and I was, like, different. It was kind of funny. And then, when my sister came out, I was thinking to myself—you’re not ditchin’ me!
Way to go! Tell me about the song “True Colors.”
My friend was dying of AIDS: Gregory. We were neighbors. We hung out all the time. We were like a little family. He and his partner were my best friends. Fed me. Took care of me. And then, he was ill.
It was a shocker, because we just thought we’d grow old, and get that suite at the Pink Hotel sippin’ mint juleps. You always think that as a younger person, and then, when it doesn’t happen, it’s a shocker.
“True Colors,” after he passed away, came across my desk. I was listening to it, and the lyrics and the melody were so beautiful and poignant. I had just been through so much, losing my friend. I sang it for him, and for us, his survivors, his friends, who were his family. My friend, Gregory, was thrown out when he was 12 years old, and that’s too young.
True Colors Tour
600 N. 1st Ave., Mpls.