What began with Miley Cyrus’ surprising and unconventional date to the 2014 MTV Video Music Awards -- Jesse Helt, a once-homeless man -- has now developed into the singer becoming an advocate for homeless and LGBT youth.
“I’m the one that can fix it,” Cyrus told ABC News of the nationwide problem. “I think I’ve been able to identify with it just because I’ve never thought of myself as, ‘I’m a girl and so I can’t do this, or I can do this, or you’ve got to be a boy to do that.’ I feel completely like I’m not tied to a gender or to an age. I feel like an infinite cosmic thing, and that’s what I want people to feel.”
That feeling inspired her to launch the Happy Hippie Foundation, committed to helping homeless young people in the United States.
“We started a year ago with Jesse and we were focused on the homeless youth in L.A. and different support groups in San Francisco,” she said. “Now, we’re going bigger and wanting to take on America. And by the end of it we’re going to be taking on the world.”
Much of the homeless youth problem involves the LGBT community “because of the lack of acceptance and alienating people in society,” said Cyrus, 22.
“I thought it was really cool in Bruce Jenner’s interview when he talks about using the platform, like being on a reality show or me being on a tour, if it can get you in front of that many impressionable people and taking the power of social media it’s the best thing ever,” Cyrus told ABC News’ Amy Robach when the two sat down at The Surrey Hotel in New York City. “That’s why with Happy Hippie we’re putting on kind of an online support group, so this gives them a place to ask questions and to be educated.”
While Cyrus was watching the Jenner interview, she said she was “really looking at his eyes,” because she “couldn’t imagine doing this.”
“It’s brave,” she said. “And if it converts people, if people are watching, maybe they do feel some sort of compassion. I don’t know how people’s brains work. I hope it does. I don’t know how you could look into Bruce’s eyes and see anything else but the truth. And I think this is probably a huge sense of relief, in a way. No one should have to live a lie.”
And for her fans, the two-year wait for new Miley music is finally over -- only this time, there’s a greater purpose.
“We’re launching with ‘Backyard Sessions’ with these videos on Facebook,” Cyrus said. “They’re doing something that I think they’ve maybe done once before. They rarely do this. It has a donate button so it’s embedded with the video.”
“It was the best day pretty much ever,” she said. “Bring it back to something that matters. I don’t really want to sing just for myself. I want to be doing something for the world.”
As for her advice to anyone who is part of the LGBT community or who feels like they don’t fit in, “I’ve learned how to love myself as I got older,” said Cyrus. “When I was 16 or 17, that was the hardest years ever. I hate when I look at pictures of myself and I’m like, ‘I know that day was the day I was freaking out about my skin,’ or I felt like I didn’t fit in with everyone or I didn’t dress like everybody else.”
“You want to be peaceful with yourself and happy with yourself and love yourself,” she added. “And sometimes I think, as women especially, I think that we’re not supposed to say, ‘I love myself,’ because that’s vain. But I love myself, and that’s what everyone should be able to say.”