Last week, queer pop icon and longtime activist Cyndi Lauper released new merch to benefit Planned Parenthood and her own True Colors Fund. Printed with the phrase, "Girls Just Want to Have Fundamental Rights," the exclusive apparel—a v-neck, crew-neck and sweatshirt—is a feminist play on Lauper's 1983 single and echoes Women's History Month this March.
Sales from Lauper's successfully crowd-funded merch will fight for "justice and advocacy for LGBTQ youth, an end to homelessness among that very community and protecting access to reproductive health care and sex education." The 63-year-old performer added that she's "proud of this shirt, this message and the impact we can all make for women’s reproductive health and LGBTQ youth."
We caught up with Lauper, who's currently rehearsing for an Australian tour with Blondie, to talk about "Girls Just Want to Have Fun," the Women's March against President Trump and LGBTQ acvitism.
OUT: How have you seen the meaning and cultural importance of "Girls Just Want to Have Fun" shift throughout the years?
Cyndi Lauper: Unfortunately, the song is still just as important because women’s issues and rights have not moved very far in the last 30 years. Discrimination, inequality, sexism, verbal and physical violence towards women is very much alive in our society today and we have to be even more vigilant to demand to have as joyful and fruitful existence as our male counterparts.
Why is it important to support Planned Parenthood and other similar organizations, right now?
It is this simple: we have to make sure that every women has access to affordable and quality reproductive health care. 1 in 5 women have used Planned Parenthood for their health care at some point in their life. We have to make sure that every woman in this country can get the help they need, especially women who are not able to afford help. We need to remove barriers to reproductive health care, not put new obstacles in women's way.
How did the Women's March affect you?
I marched in New York City and I was overwhelmed by the sea of diversity that was filling the streets. Every race, religion, sexual orientation, gender identity and nationality was represented, all united behind the message of equality. I was proud to stand arm-in-arm with my friends and fellow New Yorkers. I was also inspired by all the people that were holding up homemade "Girls Just Want to Have Fundamental Rights" signs. The fact that the song still empowers women inspired me to want to spread the message further, which is why I partnered with Omaze on this t-shirt. All of the net proceeds go to my True Colors Fund and Planned Parenthood.
Do you think music can have a true political impact?
Music can and has changed the world. It has opened up people's hearts and minds on issues big and small, and music has provided solace for those facing the biggest injustices, like the LGBTQ community. When I was home pregnant with my son almost 20 years ago, I was able to read a lot of mail from my fans. Every other letter was from a gay person saying how "True Colors" saved their lives. To see that song take on such an important role in people's life was great. I decided after reading those letters to double down on my commitment to the community and I have never looked back.
How do you see your role as an activist for LGBTQ people & women in Trump's America?
I am family and a friend of the LGBTQ community and where I come from you stand up for the people you care about. Regardless of who our President is, has been, or will be, I will continue to stand up and speak up for the community, especially those who are the most vulnerable, like our homeless youth. As for women's rights, I have been a feminist my whole life and will always be until women have true equality, which includes control of our own bodies. We have accomplished a lot on both fronts in recent decades, but we still have a long way to go, so I am not giving up anytime soon.