Legalize Gay, these are the words that appeared on the T-shirt a Miley Cyrus fan wore to school in Lansing, Michigan when she was reportedly bullied by an adult over the message. This incident was a catalyst moment for Cyrus, an opportunity to rise to the occasion and begin to fulfill the mission of her Happy Hippie Foundation by directly making a phone call to the fan and reminding her of her right to express herself.
Someone at the school who …seemed more powerful than her told her that she wasn’t supposed to be wearing that shirt at school, I just wanted to make clear that she had a legal right to express herself however she wanted. – Miley Cyrus via Time Magazine
The Happy Hippie Foundation saw its official launch last week, and uses its mission of empowerment through social media to help homeless as well as LGBTQ youth. You may recall Miley having Jesse, a homeless youth she met while volunteering at California youth shelter My Friend’s Place, accept an MTV award on her behalf as a way of bringing attention to the homeless youth across the country. Recently, Cyrus has teamed up with a variety of big names in music including Joan Jet, and Arianna Grande, and others for Backyard Sessions; concerts shot at the singer’s own home. The sessions are meant to spread awareness through the foundation’s Facebook page which will be used as a tool for urging would be supporters to donate to the establishment of digital support groups for youth left vulnerable because of homelessness, as well as LGBTQ youth who may find themselves at risk for homelessness for identifying as such.
The controversial star choosing to dedicate her attention and lend her voice to such a cause is major, if for no reason other than that when she speaks people listen, and when she’s at the center of attention people are, well, attentive. When Miley asked fans to donate to My Friend’s Place, over $200,000 was raised in 24 hours according to The New York Times. And Miley isn’t reaching out to the LGBTQ youth as someone on the outside looking in. The young star had this to say in regards to her own sexual identity.
We love putting people in categories, but what I like sexually isn’t going to label me as a person.
Like many of us, Cyrus was affected by the death of transgender person Leelah Alcorn; which has bought additional attention to the seeming epidemic surrounding transgender death, due to both suicide and transphobic violence, by platforms such as Slate. She bought attention to the community organization National Center for Transgender Equality by retweeting their commentary of the now infamous Bruce Jenner 20/20 interview, and says of trans related media coverage:
The media moves too fast, I didn’t want another story like that to be a little blurb that people hear about then it just goes away.
Along with social media, various digital media outlets have had a hand in spreading the word of Miley’s latest endeavor. She’s written an op-ed on the subject for Medium, and gave the Out the exclusive for breaking the story of Happy Hippie.
I’ve experienced fame, and money, and all that shit, and none of it will make you as happy as when you’re actually fighting for something. – Miley Cyrus to Out