Gina Mei
June 09, 2015 4:22 pm

Earlier today, Paper announced actress, activist, former Disney Channel star, and immensely talented singer Miley Cyrus as its Summer 2015 cover star. In her interview with the magazine, Cyrus discussed veganism, politics, and the importance of treating everyone with respect — and we loved what she had to say.

But perhaps most notably, Cyrus also delved into the details of her new nonprofit, the Happy Hippie Foundation, and its personal significance for her. For those less familiar, Cyrus founded the Happy Hippie Foundation last month in order to provide homeless, LGBTQ+, and other vulnerable youth groups with employment opportunities, education, and support. According to their site, 40% of homeless youth identify as LGBTQ+, with family rejection cited as the most common reason for homelessness. The organization is extremely close to heart for Cyrus, given that she herself identifies as both sexuality- and gender-fluid — and Cyrus went on to share her own experience coming out to her mom at fourteen.

“I remember telling her I admire women in a different way. And she asked me what that meant,” she told Paper. “And I said, I love them. I love them like I love boys. And it was so hard for her to understand. She didn’t want me to be judged and she didn’t want me to go to hell. But she believes in me more than she believes in any god. I just asked for her to accept me. And she has.”

Cyrus is well aware that not everyone is so lucky — which is part of what she hopes the Happy Hippie Foundation will help combat. According to their site, the organization aims to “rally young people to fight injustice” and to help “stop pointless judgment” in the world — and it couldn’t have come at a more important time. A study by the National Coalition for the Homeless estimates that LGBTQ+ youth are about 7.4 times more likely to experience acts of sexual violence than heterosexual homeless youth, and more than twice as likely to commit suicide. Trans women — specifically trans women of color — are more likely than any other group to experience hate violence in shelters, according to the National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs (NCAVP), and The National Center for Transgender Equality estimates that one in five transgender people will be homeless at some point in their lives. These are numbers that we need to change, and the best way to start is by bringing attention to them.

And Cyrus’ dedication to fighting homeless and LGBTQ+ prejudice goes way beyond the launch of the Happy Hippie Foundation. Last year, Cyrus won the VMA for Video of the Year for her smash hit “Wrecking Ball.” But rather than accept the award herself, she sent her date, a young man named Jesse Helt, to accept it for her.

“My name is Jesse, and I am accepting this award on behalf of the 1.6 million runaways and homeless youth in the United States who are starving, lost, and scared for their lives right now,” he said on stage. “I know this because I am one of these people.”

When asked why she decided to do this, her answer was all kinds of inspiring.

“If I’m going to be given this loud of a voice and this big of an image and this big of a platform and this huge of an opportunity to talk to young people in America right now, what am I really trying to say? Because I don’t think what I was trying to say is what happened the year before,” Cyrus told Ryan Seacrest at the time.

Overall, Cyrus’ platform is to foster a greater sense of open-mindedness and acceptance — something that ultimately lifts up and benefits all of us. In her interview, she claims to be the least judgmental person ever; and like interviewer Amanda Petrusich, we believe her.

“As long as you’re not hurting anyone,” she told Paper, “your choices are your choices.”

“I am literally open to every single thing that is consenting and doesn’t involve an animal and everyone is of age. Everything that’s legal, I’m down with. Yo, I’m down with any adult — anyone over the age of 18 who is down to love me,” she continued. “I don’t relate to being boy or girl, and I don’t have to have my partner relate to boy or girl.”

It’s not the first time that Cyrus has spoken up about her identity. In an interview with Out Magazine last month, Cyrus spoke about her struggle with “traditional gender expectations,” but clarified that while she “didn’t want to be a boy, [she] kind of wanted to be nothing.”

“I don’t relate to what people would say defines a girl or a boy, and I think that’s what I had to understand: Being a girl isn’t what I hate, it’s the box that I get put into,” she continued.

We couldn’t be more inspired that Cyrus is doing so many amazing things to break those boxes wide open.

(Images via.)

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