Beyond her musical talent as a singer and a songwriter, Cyndi has been a role model and a personal inspiration to so many people, and has been outspoken for LBGT issues for almost four decades.
Here’s my story:
Realizing that I was gay in a small, white, conservative, suburban town often left me feeling very isolated and alone, and like there was no one I could talk to or who would understand what I was going through. The easiest thing to get through the day to day was to deny and ignore, but that never made the root of the issue go away and it built up and ate away at me. I remember a particularly lonely day when Time After Time came on the radio on a car ride with my family. It was 1996 and I was 15 years old. I had known the song and who Cyndi was, but on that day in particular it spoke to me. “If you’re lost, you can look, and you will find me”. A friend had given me a gift certificate to Barnes and Noble for my birthday, so I went the following weekend and bought She’s So Unusual and played Time After Time on repeat and eventually fell in love with the whole album and the girl on the cover unabashedly being who she was and telling that to the world. A few weeks later, while bored on the internet, and I searched “Cyndi Lauper” and found a fan run email list aptly called "SheBop". I joined, having no idea what to expect, but finding a community of other gay men, outcasts, riff-raffs, and misfits who were happy to discuss Cyndi and their lives. And through SheBop, I found AOL and IRC chat rooms to more directly connect and chat with other people in real time. For the first time, I was able to open up to someone about what I was struggling with, and to learn they were struggling with the same things. They made me feel not so alone, and that maybe I would be ok. Some of them have even been lifelong friends with whom I have enjoyed Cyndi concerts, vacation travel, and social media connections.
Coming out was still a slow process for me. But through it all, I was inspired by Cyndi's example and music to be true myself and what I wanted. I bleached my hair, I dyed it blues, greens, purples. I would shop at thrift stores. I commemorated the time spent in all those online Cyndi chat rooms with a rainbow Apple logo tattoo, because it symbolized being gay and the computer through which I began the journey of accepting myself. I started spending my spare cash buying Cyndi records and CDs on eBay and scouring local record stores wherever I traveled to. I amassed a decent sized collection over the past 25 years that I framed and put on my walls, and every time I admire them I think about the journey in life that Cyndi has taken me on.
Thank you to Cyndi, and thank you to all of you.