She won't be belting out her signature songs, but Cyndi Lauper is heading to Washington nonetheless. It will be a visit for the kids.
''I am doing something really important,'' Grammy-winner Lauper tells Metro Weekly via email. ''I am meeting with members of Congress and the Obama administration to discuss ways to better help homeless LGBT youth. I am going to discuss the need for more funding to help runaway and homeless youth, ensuring that LGBT youth experiencing homelessness are not discriminated against in federally funded shelters and other agencies, and that we pass the Reconnecting Youth to Prevent Homelessness Act that Sen. [John] Kerry (D-Mass.) introduced last year. It is my first time visiting Capitol Hill and I am really looking forward to it.''
It's for that sort of work that Lauper will also be honored while she's in Washington. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Kathleen Sebelius will help mark National Children's Mental Health Awareness Day by presenting Lauper with an award at a May 9 event featuring an art exhibit, reception and ''Heroes of Hope'' tribute.
''The theme this year is 'Heroes of Hope,''' explains Dr. Gary Blau, chief of the Child, Adolescent and Family Branch at the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), the organization presenting the event. ''The award to Cyndi is for her work and support of young people, particularly LGBT, and to give them hope as well.''
As part of its own work on behalf of LGBT youth, SAMHSA released ''Larkin Street Stories: The Homeless LGBT Experience'' awareness-raising videos on YouTube. With Lauper, the major vehicle for improving the lives of LGBT youth is her True Colors Fund.
''The True Colors Fund was really inspired by the True Colors Tour,'' Lauper says. ''We thought if we could get people this excited with music and some comedy about LGBT issues, then maybe we could do even more on two issues that mattered a great deal to us: getting straight people involved in pushing for LGBT equality, and to help all these kids who are homeless because they were kicked out or ran away from home for being gay or transgender.''
And while fans have long been willing to pay up for Lauper concert tickets, the May 9 event is free.
''We'd love to see the auditorium fill up,'' Blau says of the Lisner Auditorium event. ''We're incredibly excited and tickled that Cyndi's agreed to work with us.''
Awareness Day 2012: Heroes of Hope event, Wednesday, May 9, begins with an art exhibit and reception, 5 to 7 p.m., followed by the tribute, 7:30 to 9:30 p.m., at George Washington University's Lisner Auditorium, 730 21st St. NW. To reserve tickets, visit awarenessevent.org.
Watch Cyndi Lauper perform at the 2011 HRC National Dinner.