This morning on Facebook Miley Cyrus posted a video for her collaboration with Joan Jett and Laura Jane Grace, a cover of The Replacements’ “Androgynous.” Apart from being a thoroughly enjoyable three minutes of music, the video also marks the launch of a Cyrus-spearheaded foundation to aid homeless LGBT young people. As Stereogum noted this morning, “The mere fact that this video exists is pretty amazing, and so is its reason for existence.”
The video was shot to commemorate the launch of something called the Happy Hippie Foundation, which (despite its unappealing name) turns out to be an entirely worthwhile endeavor — its website describes it as “a nonprofit organization… [that aims] to rally young people to fight injustice facing homeless youth, LGBT youth and other vulnerable populations.” It was founded by La Cyrus herself, the idea stemming partly from her work with LA homeless shelters over the last year, and partly from the tragic death by suicide of transgender teen Leelah Alcorn. (The site includes an op-ed by Cyrus explaining her ideas in more detail, which is well worth reading.)
All in all, there are really only good things to say about this — you can’t overstate the importance of having a bona fide celebrity throw her weight behind an initiative to help LGBT kids. As of today, Cyrus is one of the biggest pop stars in the world. In a cozy liberal New York bubble, it’s easy to forget just how radical of a move it is for someone of that stature to say things like Cyrus has been saying of late. Earlier this week, she declared that, “It has a lot to do with being a feminist, but I’m finally OK with being alone,” and also explained that she doesn’t identify as straight. In a world where plenty of celebrities still clam up as soon as the F-word is mentioned, this is both notable and refreshing.
Perhaps the most important thing Cyrus said, though, was this: “The position I’m in, I feel like I’ve got a lot of power. But so many kids don’t feel that way. They’re under their parents’ rule.” This is 100% objective truth, and the fact that she is using her status to challenge social expectations and conventions on sexuality and gender is worthy of nothing but admiration. It seems like only a couple of years ago that people were lining up to lambast Miley about twerking and the VMAs and… oh, wait, it was only a couple of years ago. I’m sure everyone who was so quick to judge her then will be equally quick to praise her now, right?
But seriously, while some people will always instinctively disapprove of Miley, for the rest of us, she’s a pretty salutary reminder that passing judgments on people based on their public persona — especially if those people are young and still figuring out the core of their own identity — is both vindictive and ultimately misguided. For every Justin Bieber (who’s spent most of the last two years making me look silly for writing this), there’s someone like Miley Cyrus, who appears to have ended up… pretty fucking great, actually.
Really, though, this isn’t about Miley, and I’m sure she’d be the first to admit it. The fact that LGBT youth are disproportionately represented in statistics on homelessness, addiction, and suicide is an ongoing national disgrace, and anything that both sheds light on this situation and aims to change it is entirely worth supporting. Hats off to Cyrus, Grace, Jett, and everyone else involved.