I was 11 years old when I rode my bike down to Peaches Records & Tapes (the real name of the chain, by the way) in Denver and bought my own copy of She's So Unusual on vinyl. It was the first record I purchased with my own money that I earned from baby sitting. More than that, it was my record. It wasn't my sister's English Beat albums, that I was forbidden to touch unless supervised but this belonged to me. I listened to over and over again not just because it was the only one in my collection but because I genuinely loved it. I read the liner notes repeatedly and memorized every lyric to every song. Something about this crazy girl from Queens with the Betty Boop voice and Skittle colored hair just spoke to me.
Cyndi was unafraid to be herself and relished being unique and different. Even crazier, the world embraced her for it! Looking back, it was clearly a message I needed to hear. I was a femmine kid with a high pitched voice and an awkward demeanor. I spent a lot of time feeling bad that I wasn't like other kids. On some level, I must have soaked up Cyndi's mission statement of individuality somewhere along the way. Performers like her, Boy George, and Debbie Harry weren't like everybody else and I strived to be cool and weird like them, not wanting to fit in. Cyndi and her contemporaries literally saved my life and I'm eternally grateful.
25 years later, Cyndi's message is more powerful than anyone would have ever imagined. Her True Colors Tour is in it's second year and bigger than ever. Her work for the Human Rights Campaign and her support for gay marriage is tireless and never ending. Cyndi is also regarded as an icon of modern feminism. She's still reinventing her sound as an artist (more on that later) and somehow remains relevant, puffy skirts and wacky hair notwithstanding. She continues to be honored by the music community as well as the gay community.
I can't be sure if Cyndi Lauper set out to provide hope to kids like me decades ago. And I don't know if she knows how important she is or if anybody else feels the same way. But, I do know this- if this was your intention Cyndi, then mission accomplished and thank you from the bottom of my big gay heart.