Welcome to our 2019 Pride Month Series! Each day in the month of June, we will be highlighting a different member of the LGBTQ+ community who we think is a great example of representation and dynamic characterization. We will focus on fictional characters, celebrities, and activists alike — the positive voices within the LGBTQ+ community and in mainstream media.
When you hear the name Miley Cyrus, you might think of “Best of Both Worlds” and the hit drumbeat echoing off a small soundstage as a teenager in a blonde wig plays out stardom. Maybe you recall a high school student by day and an international teen idol by night. Or perhaps the Miley Cyrus of 2013 comes to mind when she came in like a wrecking ball.
Whether it’s her Disney persona wrapped up nicely in bangs or a more promiscuous stage presence prancing around in a 3D version of the iconic tongue-peaking-out emblem, Miley Cyrus can be described in only one way: as someone who has always been outrageously herself.
Where a normal teenager would grow and change out of the public eye, for Cyrus simple milestones such as driving a car became a global accomplishment. For over a decade, children who became teenagers and then turned into young adults have sat in front of the television watching every shade of her character. Even before she dipped her toe into the Hollywood pool, Cyrus knew she subverted from her peers when she grew an acute awareness of her sexuality between the ages of 10 and 12.
In 2015, she came out as pansexual and gender fluid. Rather than falling in love with a person’s appearance or gender, she falls in love with the person themselves. She expressed her identity in a Vanity Fair interview: “Relationships and partnerships in a new generation — I don’t think they have so much to do with sexuality or gender. Sex is actually a small part, and gender is a very small, almost irrelevant part of relationships.”
Even now with being married to Liam Hemsworth, she hasn’t diminished her identity. “Sexuality and gender identity are completely separate from partnership,” she said to Vanity Fair. “I wore a dress on my wedding day because I felt like it, I straightened my hair because I felt like it, but that doesn’t make me become some instantly ‘polite hetero lady.’ (PS: Straight women are badass, too.)”
All that being said, it isn’t much of a revelation that she governed The Happy Hippie Foundation — a nonprofit organization where its mission is to “fight the injustice facing homeless youth, LGBTQ youth and other vulnerable populations.” The charity’s symbol is a bright yellow smiley face, a long-standing universal sign of happiness, but modified slightly — its eyes are replaced with the letter ‘H’ to represent the brand. It is the perfect representation of the optimism and hope found in Cyrus.
Cyrus took a note from Marlon Brando, who had Native American activist Sacheen Littlefeather accept his Oscar to bring awareness to the Native American plight, when she asked a 22-year-old homeless man to accept her Video of the Year award at the 2014 VMAs. From there, the foundation has generated acts of kindness which have produced lines of support for transgender and gender-expansive youth and their families, housed homeless kids, and counseled and supported those affected by the devestating 2016 Orlando nightclub shooting by partnering with various organizations including but not limited to Gender Spectrum, MAC AIDS Fund, and the Zebra Coalition.
Whether we’re wielding a hairbrush microphone while we belt out “The Climb” in the bathroom, or we’re standing, a little older, hearing it during a nationwide rally for gun control, Cyrus is every bit the breath of individualism we need.
Be sure to tune in for the rest of our Pride series, which will release an article each day all this month! You can check out the rest of the series here.