Tag Archives: LGBT homeless youth

Cyndi Lauper Launches New Shoe Line, Which Will Benefits LGBT Youth

For many years Cyndi Lauper has been pivotal supporter of LGBT rights, becoming a fixture at gay pride events and raising money through charity work.

Now, she’s parlaying her unwavering belief in equality into something tangible with the launch of her shoe collection with M4D3 (Make a Difference Everyday), an organization dedicated to creating products with a purpose.


The three-piece line, priced between $65 and $75, includes a denim hi-top sneaker, a leopard print slip-on sneaker, and a men’s white hi-top sneaker.

Talking to InStyle, Lauper said

I’m the aunt and cousin or sister you can’t get rid of. Initially, I got involved because nobody else was getting involved. I wasn’t going to sit idly and watch my family members and dear friends have their civil rights stripped [Ed note: Lauper’s older sister, Ellen, is a lesbian and activist in the gay community]. Everyone was totally disenfranchised and was contemplating suicide. Something had to be done. You should never kill yourself because you’re different. There are a lot of great people who didn’t blend in who were different.”

She added

There has been some change, but I wish in my heart that those changes had come sooner for those who were forced to live through a harder time. Forty percent of the 1.6 million kids out there are homeless right now, and identify as LGBT. We have to educate people and their parents, too.”


Proceeds from sales benefit the True Colors Fund, her foundation which works to end homelessness among gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender youth across the country. Below, we spoke to Lauper about the collaboration, ’80s fashion trends, and the cause closest to her heart.

We tried to make something that was interesting and fun to wear, that you could rock any way you want—whether you’re conservative or more outgoing.”
Shop the True Colors Collection now at shop.m4d3shoes.com and visit truecolorsfund.org to learn more about the cause.

Former Homeless Teen Cyndi Lauper Goes to Washington to Help End LGBT Homelessness

Yesterday was True Colors Fund’s #40toNoneDay, “a national day to raise public awareness about lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) youth homelessness, and to provide supporters with simple ways to get involved.”

It was also the day Cyndi Lauper – who started her True Colors Fund charity – testified before a Senate Appropriations subcommittee, explaining in real life terms the tragedies and challenges homeless youth face, especially LGBT homeless youth.

She also revealed she was a homeless teen, a fact not known to many, and one that may explain her devotion to helping homeless youth.

Lauper said her iconic song, “True Colors,” which has been adopted by many as a theme and as an LGBT anthem, allowed her to speak with LGBT youths, many who were homeless.

Listening to these stories, it changed me. Maybe there’s something I can do besides just being a famous person and singing to them.”

That’s why she started her True Colors Fund, which “works to end homelessness among lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender youth, creating a world in which young people can be their true selves.”

Basically, the kids come out and they get thrown out. Truth is, they didn’t choose their identity. You know, it’s like you choosing the color of your eyes. You know, you’re born that way. If it’s a faith issue, I implore you not to pray to God to change your kid. Pray to God to change your heart.”

The hearing was led by the subcommittee’s Chair, GOP Senator Susan Collins of Maine.

Watch this video, please, share it, and use the hashtags #40toNoneDay and #Pizza4Equality, which is a fundraiser started by LGBT activist Scott Wooledge to help homeless kids and the True Colors Fund.

If $842 Can be Raised For a Homophobic Pizza Joint, Then What Can Be Raised For Homeless LGBT Kids?

The answer nearly $130,000… and counting.

In response to the campaign to raise money for an Indiana pizzeria that said it would refuse service to a gay couples, a campaign was launched aiming to raise the same amount of money, if not more, to be donated to Cyndi Lauper’s True Colors Fund, which aims to end youth LGBT homelessness.


The campaign is 5 days old,  but awareness is spreading with the hashtag #Pizza4Equality on social media.

The page, set up by Scott Wooledge reads:

“There is much disgust and consternation in the LGBT community over a viral fundraiser effort, that has as of this writing, earned $842,387. Many have lamented, “If only our cause could raise that much money that fast”. I say, yes, we can.”

The True Colors Fund is currently running an initiative called #40tonone, which aims to eliminate youth homelessness, which disproportionately affects LGBT youths.

True Colors Cabaret True Colors Cabaret

Cyndi Lauper Opens Housing for LGBT Youth in New York

Cyndi Lauper’s hit song ‘True Colors’ took on a new meaning when the True Colors Residence for homeless lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender youth opened its doors in Harlem.

The New York City’s street plays home to an increasing number homeless youth identify as LGBT, with reports indicating that these young people often face discrimination and at times physical assault.

The idea behind the 30-bed facility, was conceived by Lauper, her manager and the West End Intergenerational Residence, a non-profit that provides housing and support for homeless families and seniors.

The True Colors Residence will be the first permanent housing facility in New York for homeless LGBT+ youth.

“In New York City, a very disproportionate number (up to 40 percent) of homeless youth identify as LGBT+ Even more disturbing are reports that these young people often face discrimination and at times physical assault in some of the very places they have to for help. This is shocking and inexcusable!..

…I believe a strong society is an inclusive society. If we want to win big then we’d better include everybody because we need everybody,”

Cyndi Lauper

Lauper has long been an advocate for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender rights. In 2007, she created the True Colors Tour, in which she performed and talked about LGBT+ issues with Erasure, The B-52s, the Indigo Girls, Deborah Harry and Joan Jett & the Blackhearts.

Then in 2008, she founded the True Colors Fund, a non-profit for the advancement of LGBT+ equality.

The True Colors Residence was subsequently constructed. The new energy-efficient building contains 30 studio apartments for youth aged 18 to 24 to live in, and indoor and outdoor community space. Residents will pay rent based on their income and receive job placement help.

Lauper will be the honorary chair of the shelter’s board, and her manager, Lisa Barbaris, will be the board’s honorary vice chair.

“Our primary goal is to provide a physically and emotionally safe and supportive environment that will empower our young residents to be the self-loving, happy and successful individuals they were meant to be.”

Cyndi Lauper

Lauper wrote.

The Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Transgender Community Center has already started referring homeless and disconnected youth to the True Colors Residence.

“We have about 1,000 people a year come here. And at least 20 to 25 percent of those individuals face an issue of homelessness or are under-housed at some point in their adolescence.”

Carrie Davis, the director of community services at The Center.

Carl Siciliano, the founder and executive director of the Ali Forney Center, agreed that the new shelter was a much-needed facility.

“There are fewer than 200 beds for homeless youth in New York City, and fewer than ten beds for homeless LGBT+ youth. So every new bed aimed at this new population is really a matter of life and death that could get kids off the street.”

Carl Siciliano

Lauper’s new shelter is part of a slowly growing movement that’s calling attention to the plight of homeless LGBT+ youth in New York. In 2009, Mayor Bloomberg’s office created a 25-member Commission for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Questioning Runaway and Homeless Youth. The director of the commission is Jeanne B. Mullgrav, the commissioner of the Department of Youth and Community Development.

“We are ecstatic that, with the opening of the True Colors Residence, more housing and services will be available to help our most vulnerable youth succeed and thrive . In 2010, Mayor Bloomberg’s Commission on L.G.B.T.Q. Runaway and Homeless Youth report high-lighted that LGBTQ youth are particularly at risk of leaving home. In response, the Commission recommended the addition of beds and specialized services for this population, so we are especially pleased to see this vision becoming a reality.”

Jeanne B. Mullgrav


Where the heart is… The Plight of LGBT Homeless Youth

Comedienne Wanda Sykes said in one of her routines that…

“It’s harder being gay than it is being black. It is, because there’s some things that I had to do as gay that I didn’t have to do as black—I didn’t have to come out black! I didn’t have to sit my parents down and tell them…”

The absurdity of the parallel can be great fun, but the results are often not. The home and family is one of the first, most important, and (in certain cases) the only support system available to young people.

Homophobia and trans-phobia in those homes can very suddenly take that away. An incomplete education can make it difficult for any homeless youth to find work and support themselves, and being LGBT as well comes with particular challenges that remain unrecognized and unaddressed.

According to the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force and the National Coalition for the Homeless (both non-profit organizations based in the United States of America), 50% of LGBT youth between the ages of 13 and 24 years who openly identify as such to their families, receive a negative reaction.1 In a 1987 study, 26% of those who came out were cast out from their homes by their own families. As of 2007, between 20% and 40% of homeless youth are LGBT. Adjusting for the statistic that between 3% and 5% of the U.S. population identify as LGBT, we can consider that homelessness affects the Stateside LGBT youth to a disproportionate amount.

As the foster care system and homeless shelters are designed for heterosexual and cis-gendered people, this isn’t a simple matter of more LGBT youth availing of these “safety nets”. Many of these systems keep to a basis of gender segregation housing, and many of the people involved in the system, supposedly meant to help, carry the same hostility that would often have put LGBT youth out of their homes in the first place. More than one-third of LGBT homeless youth were violently assaulted in the care of social services2.

As a result, many LGBT youth feel safer living on the street than in a foster home or shelter, but according to the National Runaway Switchboard, LGBT homeless youth are a full 7 times more likely than heterosexual homeless youth to be victims of a crime3, and 58% percent are sexually assaulted compared 33% of their homeless straight peers4.

While homeless youth regardless of sexual orientation are at a high risk of developing emotional disorder and mental illness, the additional pressures of LGBT discrimination in society can trigger and sustain an even greater need for counseling and therapy among LGBT homeless youth on issues specifically applicable to LGBT youth.

The solutions are as simple as the issue—which is to say, it’s not. We need funding, leadership and volunteers, to implement shelters by LGBT people for LGBT people. We need organizations to sustain this development. We need awareness, and the ability to fight discrimination at any and every level. LGBT youth need as many people as possible in the world to open their hearts and make room for them in it. Home is, after all, where the heart is.

Image source

1 Ray, Nicholas. (2006). Lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender youth: An epidemic of homelessness. New York: National Gay and Lesbian Task Force Policy Institute and the National Coalition for the Homeless.

2 Thompson, S. J., Safyer, A. W. & Pollio, D. E. (2001). Differences and predictors of family reunification among subgroups of runaway youths using shelter services. Social Work Research, 25(3).

3 Ray, N. op. cit.

4 Uwujaren, Jarune. “Some Facts About Homelessness Among LGBTQ Youth.” Everyday Feminism. Everyday Feminism Magazine, 28 Feb. 2013.

Pier Kids: The Life – Watch the Trailer and Support the Cause

Elegance Bratton’s documentary about New York City’s LGBTQ homeless youth and the neighbourhood they call home might be the next “must see” film.

Bratton’s goal with this film, is “to help poor and working class families of colour understand the gay and transgender youth who are inside their homes so they stop kicking them out onto the streets.”

Bratton’s own mother kicked him out of their home when he came out of the closet. As a result the then-sixteen-year-old bought a train ticket to New York. “I saw three black gay men get on the train. They were laughing. They were singing. They were dressed well. Just really, they were the life of that train car. And I sat there watching them like, “Whatever they’re doing that makes them that happy and that gay, I need to do it.” So, Bratton followed them and ended up at that Christopher Street pier.

Years later, the writer and filmmaker is translating his experiences into a documentary that’s both in conversation with “Paris Is Burning” but also more direct in its attempt to make sense of the way class and race dynamics act upon the city’s LGBT community, especially its youth.

Film Synopsis 

Pier Kids: The Life examines the legacy of Stonewall and the Gay Rights Movement it ignited by following the lives of DeSean, Krystal, and Casper, three gay and transgender youth of color who, after being pushed out of their home because of their sexuality, have become homeless on the same street the riots took place more than forty years ago. While rooted in a specific place and time, the film is constantly pulling back to interrogate one of the most basic units of American life―the family. We follow Krystal, for example, from Christopher Street to Kansas City where she faces her biological family for the first time since becoming a woman. Would they accept her? Could she take rejection from them once again? Or would she gain strength from it and come back to New York a better woman?

Today, white upper-class families make the West Village their home; but as day turns to night, Christopher Street and its adjacent piers also become home to a transient yet vibrant street community known as the Pier Kids. Forming a significant yet invisible network, the Pier Kids are a queer and transgender community of predominately Black and Latino descent representing nearly four thousand of New York City’s sixteen thousand registered homeless youth. Left to wander and with few economic opportunities, the lives of these social refugees are beset with limited and harrowing options as money and food are everyday struggles. Through it all – or, perhaps, because of it all – hope still exists in the shadows of their neglect and abandonment.

Pier Kids: The Life follows the stories of three young people: DeSean, Krystal, and Casper. Together, these three people weave a surprisingly complex story of love, family, exploitation, beauty, and hope. But it’s more than the story of three. It’s the story of thousands.