Today we honor and celebrate a woman dedicated to civil rights for all and social justice, not to mention a personal hero of mine, Cyndi Lauper. Lauper founded the Give A Damn Campaign, which strives for gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender equality. What a lovely voice of solidarity for the LGBTQ community. Her activism is greatly appreciated and she uses her celebrity for the greater good.
Lauper has been an outspoken advocate for multiple social justice issues since the start of her career. Her first solo album, She’s So Unusual, is a declaration of independence from the title to the cover photo to the crisp production and quirky vocals. She lends her voice to rockers, ballads, and anthems and makes them all unmistakably her own. She bounces from the feminism of Girls Just Want to Have Fun to the sex-positive message of She Bop to the wistful class analysis of Money Changes Everything, then retains the original pronouns in her cover of Prince’s When You Were Mine, making her lost love a bisexual or a gay man finding his truth. (She’s always had a great ear for songs to cover, including a lovely reading of Marvin Gaye’s social protest song What’s Going On.) She consistently demonstrates her solidarity with the disenfranchised and marginalized–what a great role model for us all!
Launching from that strong platform, she’s been a powerful voice in music and civil rights ever since, confounding expectations and speaking her mind. She laments the way women are treated in the music industry, as demonstrated in this anecdote about the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
I always have been saying [the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame] should include women. I was in Cleveland and I took my cousin’s son to see it, because he wanted to see it, and they asked if I wanted a VIP tour and I said “Not really, because you don’t really include women in your curation here.” There’s hardly any women, and I feel funny walking this kid around, explaining who the women were who were around at the time.
Lauper’s True Colors tour — taking its title from her #1 ballad to being true to yourself — is a wonderful spectacle of support for the LGBTQ community and for strong voices in the music community representing marginalized populations. She truly exemplifies the values she speaks. Activist neo-divas like P!nk and Lady Gaga owe a great debt to her bold example.
Even more remarkably, she manages to hold on to the spirit of her first big hit, remembering that even during the fight for justice, one must find ways to have a happy heart. She certainly doesn’t “just want” to have fun, but she wants us all to celebrate as we fight together for what’s right. She’s so unusual indeed, but the world could use more like her.