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Cyndi Lauper’s ‘Home for the Holidays’ concert will benefit LGBTQ homeless youth

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The dreary, cold, overcast, rain-pregnant sky seemed a harbinger of ineffable doom last Saturday, threatening to seep into the marrow bone and chill even the impulse to human warmth. But hope has a funny way of catching fire and for one too- brief moment, singer and LGBTQ civil rights icon Cyndi Lauper ignited a shining patch of blue sharing her hope to help “fix” the biased-based problem of LGBTQ youth homelessness through her annual True Colors UnitedHome for the Holidays” concert on Tuesday at The Novo theatre.

“This is a fixable situation because they’re only homeless because they’re LGBTQ,” Lauper tells the Los Angeles Blade. “And that means that with programs and advocacy and helping people get back on their feet and back into back into society, it will help society itself because throwing away youth because of who they are is not a solution of any kind, it’s just a very close minded ignoramus kind of thing.”

Lauper has asked a number of friends, including her “Kinky Boots” star (Lauper wrote the award-winning music), “Pose” master actor and 2019 Golden Globe nominee Billy Porter, to participate in the Dec. 10 event, presented by Marriott International and AEG.

True Colors United was born, not just from the profound empathy and understanding of an artist steeped in the 1960s civil rights movement but from personal experience.

“I was homeless as a youth for a while, for a minute, until I found help,” she says. “But it’s not always so easy. There were programs in the 70s to help people — if they reached out, they could find a way back in. And I went to school and I took a GED and I went to college for a little bit. Wasn’t my thing, I didn’t want to be a teacher, I just wanted to create art, become a musician.”

Because she saw her way back into society, Lauper believes that with help, others can too, especially the youth.

Lauper cites a 2017 University of Chicago report noting that there are about 4.2 million unaccompanied youth who experience homelessness in the course of a year, “up to 40% are LGBTQ and that is the largest percentage out there as a group,” her voice ticking up with anger. “But maybe 10% identify in this country as LGBTQ, which means the disparity is great — which made us all sit there and go, ‘Whoa. But like there is something we can do about that because they’re only homeless because they’re LGBTQ, which means through different programs and advocacy and a helping hand you can help the youth up, back on their feet. And these youth are 120% more likely than the others to become homeless. Okay? And now, after we help these youth, because they’re the largest percentage, we can move on to the others, you understand? And then we can eradicate this situation.”

True Colors United has a number of education and training programs and works with the National Institute on Homelessness & Poverty to collect data on LGBTQ homeless youth, which it shares with its advocacy partners.

Lauper’s close friend Gregory, who died of AIDS early in the epidemic, was also homeless, kicked out of his home at age 12.  Research, says Lauper, indicates that “the ages of these youth experiencing homelessness — because they are LGBTQ — range from the age of 12 to 24, okay? And as tough as you think you are the streets are tougher. You can’t have them on the street.”

“As a parent, do you throw your kid out? No. But you could say to them — and I found this out through research, too — you could tell your kid, ‘You know? You’re my kid and I love you, but you’ve just got to give me a minute to wrap my head around this whole gay thing,” Lauper says. “We could really fix this situation through family therapy. Listen, it’s hard for the kid. It’s also hard for the parents – they’ve got no place to go, either. So they need some place to go, they need to be able to talk, everybody needs to be able to talk it through.”

The kid being LGBTQ is not the problem. “But throwing them out on the street, that’s a problem,” Lauper says. “Listen, dogma cannot be more important than your child, okay? Nothing. A building is burning — you’d go into the building to get your kid, wouldn’t you? Whatever, that’s how I feel. So I think this is a fixable problem and I think that people need a little help. And we have worked with many organizations bringing people together. We believe in collaboration all the way down the line because together we fix it. You know you can’t be isolated. You’ve got to do it together. Community is everything.”

It feels like the clouds are parting to let the sun’s true colors shine in.

Tickets are still available for the True Colors United “Home for the Holidays” event in Los Angeles. Click here for more info

The Los Angeles Blade’s cover story this week will feature more with Cyndi Lauper and why she is such an important LGBTQ ally/advocate.

Song from Kinky Boots with a cameo from Cyndi Lauper:

 

The photo of Cyndi Lauper and Billy Porter above is from their GAP #MakeLove holiday campaign.

 

 

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RaiseAChild- Fierce, fabulous, & oh yeah, “honey don’t forget the kids”

“What happens to being like a fierce, fabulous, gay? All of a sudden, I’m living the life my parents lived.”

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Courtesy of Matt Gould and Griffin Matthews

LOS ANGELES – RaiseAChild over the past decade has become the national leader in the recruitment and support of LGBTQ+ and all prospective parents interested in building families through fostering and fostering-to-adopt, to meet the needs of the approximately 440,000 children caught up in the U.S. foster care system.

This year in celebration of its tenth anniversary, the LA-based organization is holding its RaiseAChild HONORS.

One of the organization’s success stories is a theatre arts couple, Matt Gould and Griffin Matthews, a husband-and-husband team of writers and composer-lyricists whose contributions to musicals and the world of Broadway have been acclaimed.

In 2019, the venerable theatre industry trade publication Playbill, profiled this dynamic couple noting, “The two come from opposite backgrounds: Matthews is an African-American Christian man from Pittsburgh, Gould is a white Jewish-American man from New York City. As they grappled with the gulf between their respective roots, they found common ground during a trip to Germany when they took Matthews’ grandfather, who had liberated Dachau, to visit the hallowed ground for his 80th birthday. Gould had lost ancestors to the Holocaust. Suddenly it hit them: blacks, Jews, gays, all would have been killed on that land 70 years ago. The branches of their family histories are intertwined. And so they began what would become The Family Project, a musical told in vignettes as a song cycle.

Courtesy of Matt Gould and Griffin Matthews

But when the theatres are dark this theatrical power-couple are engaged in what Gould told the Blade in a recent interview, “What happens to being like a fierce, fabulous, gay? Who just travels, and has dogs and a fierce life? All of a sudden, I’m living the life my parents lived. I thought we were supposed to be special.”

The life as a family and as parents has somewhat altered things around the their home. Asked about the impact being foster parents has had on their home life? Matthews fired back; “Loud.”

Gould chimed in saying, “The Black Christian and the white Jew have been joined by a quarter-Armenian, quarter-Ukrainian, half-Russian foster son, Galileo, and a  half-Cambodian, half-remains to be seen, little boy, Apollo. Those are our two foster sons.”

I mean, obviously, we are married, we have two kids now. But I also think that we realized we didn’t have to make all the same choices that our parents made. That we could still live a fierce, fabulous life while having all of the fierce fabulousness of being a parent, and being married. That has been a really important discovery – that that life is not about either-or,” he added.

His husband offered the background adding how how their family was melded together through RaiseAChild;

There was a big campaign all over LA for LGBTQ+ family members to become foster parents – again, 45,000 kids need people to be parents. The party – it was a party, go figure – was at Fred Segal on Melrose. [ A famed LA retailer ] Could it be any gayer? Hosted by Alec Mapa and his husband. And we went to Fred Segal, we’re all dressed up and they’re passing champagne, Alec Mapa is doing a set; that was how they got us to be foster parents,” Matthews said.

“Alec Mapa was so funny that night – he and his husband already had a foster son who they had adopted. He was making light of something that feels so heavy. I think it was really good for us to see Alec do that thing. That was the start of us getting involved with Raise a Child,” he added.

Talking about their musical, ‘The Family Project’, Gould noted;

That is a documentary musical we wrote about our families. It’s set up to answer the question of “how does a Black Christian gay man and a white Jewish gay man – that come from these legacies of Holocaust and slavery – how do we learn how to, at the most basic level, get along?”  Because we really are two different cultures that don’t necessarily speak the same language. How do we now form a new language that we can speak to one another in?”

Reflecting for a moment Matthews offered, “It’s also about our generation. We’re the first generation of ‘free’ gay men, right? Like the generation ahead of us, they couldn’t get married, so they weren’t getting married, or they were getting married in secret. We were the first generation that was like, yep, you can get married, and you can have kids!

The musical is about trying to tackle the heteronormative expectations that we place on ourselves. It goes into all different places of not just culture – racial culture, religious culture – but also American culture.”

His husband said that their theatrical careers and also parenting is something that they have found is a very workable part of their daily lives. A commitment that Gould noted on becoming parents, “… took us another five years to actually go through with the full training, and actually become a parent.”

Courtesy of Matt Gould and Griffin Matthews

Of immediate concern though to this fierce and fabulous parental unit is the approaching all-time important holiday of Halloween. “You cannot imagine how much Halloween we’ve been talking about in this house. Galileo insisted on being a spider. Nana and Tata sent him a spider costume, he’s freaking out – he’s so excited. He asks everyday, “is it Halloween?” Matthews said.

Asked what their plans were- beyond trick-or-treating? Gould wryly remarked; “We’re going to survive.”

Editor’s note: If you are interested in becoming a foster parent or wish to adopt, RaiseAChild has developed a system to find – and then support – people who are interested in becoming foster and foster-to-adopt parents. As a result, RaiseAChild out-performs the national standard by advancing 23% of prospective foster and adoptive parents from inquiry to certification.

RaiseAChild produces foster and adoption informational programs to support, educate, and motivate prospective parents. These events feature a diverse panel of parents who share their foster and adoption experiences and advice with new prospective parents.

The RaiseAChild Parent Advocate Program is a unique and complimentary service designed to advance prospective foster and adoptive parents with their family-building goals. Our program includes personal mentor services, a nationwide referral network, and proprietary software case management program that enables RaiseAChild to follow and support parents throughout the process. From orientation to training and throughout the child matching process, our Parent Advocates are there to assist with your concerns and questions.

To learn more visit RaiseAChild at https://raiseachild.org/we-build-families/ or email
[email protected]. If you are in the greater Los Angeles area the number to call is (323) 417-1440.

********************

Writing and editing by Brody Levesque with research by Alejandro Cervantes

 

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The stork delivered- Chasten & Pete are parents welcoming two kids

The happy couple delivered the news Saturday via their social media accounts

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U.S. Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg and his husband Chasten with their children (Photo Credit: Pete Buttigieg)

WASHINGTON – In a happy tweet and on Instagram Saturday morning, U.S. Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg and his husband Chasten announced the arrival of their children Penelope Rose and Joseph August Buttigieg into their home and lives.

The couple first announced in an August tweet that they had become parents and were awaiting the necessary completion of the process.

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PFLAG congrats Transportation Secretary on ‘cigar moment’

Buttigieg announced that he and his husband Chasten commenced growing their family. “We’re overjoyed to share that we’ve become parents!”

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U.S. Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg with husband Chasten (Photo Credit: Pete Buttigieg Twitter Account)

WASHINGTON – In a statement Tuesday on his personal Twitter account, U.S. Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg announced that he and his husband Chasten have commenced growing their family. “We’re overjoyed to share that we’ve become parents!” Buttigieg wrote.

This happy announcement was immediately greeted with congratulations from PFLAG, the first and largest organization for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ+) people, their parents and families, and allies, in an Instagram post:

Mayor Annise Parker, President & CEO of LGBTQ Victory Institute also weighed in congratulating the couple;

“On the campaign trail, Pete and Chasten upended stereotypes and transformed perceptions for millions of Americans less familiar with LGBTQ people and their lives. As parents, they will now shine a national spotlight on LGBTQ families, who often face daunting challenges because of outdated policies that narrowly define what families are. Their adoption is an opportunity to have a national dialogue about creating a legal and legislative framework that supports all parents and children. Yet this is primarily about love and family, and we are absolutely thrilled for Pete and Chasten and know they will be fantastic fathers.”

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