— -- "True Colors” star Cyndi Lauper wants to be “a voice for homeless youth” who have been “disenfranchised from life” because of their sexual identity, she said during a visit to Capitol Hill today.
The "Girls Just Wanna Have Fun” singer -- who left home at age 17 after her stepfather allegedly threatened to rape her and her sister -- told lawmakers she was moved by the plight of New York City’s homeless LGBT youth.
“Basically, the kids come out and they get thrown out,” Lauper said at a Senate Appropriations Committee hearing on youth homelessness, chaired by chaired by Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine. “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.”
"Listening to these stories, it changed me,” she added. “Maybe there’s something I can do besides just being a famous person and singing to them.”
Lauper, 61, founded the “True Colors Fund” in 2008 to end gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender homelessness.
Though LGBT children make up only 7 percent of the youth population, they represent about 40 percent of all homeless youth in America, she said today.
Through research in partnership with various organizations, the Fund has identified these homeless youth need “the same thing that any grownup would need” – housing, education and job training, social/emotional well-being, and “permanent connections that provide stability."
But Lauper said her ultimate goal is preventing LGBT youth homelessness entirely. And today, she urged parents who may be uncomfortable with their children’s sexual identity to practice tolerance.
“If it’s a faith issue, I implore you not to pray to God to change your kid,” she said. “Pray to God to change your heart."