Miley Cyrus is one of those public figures that a lot of people get all wrong. In a new interview with Variety, Miley explains — eloquently and unpretentiously — her move from pop to positive change, from whitebread Disney gender norms to accepting her sexuality as she is.
Opening up about her infamous VMAs performance, Miley talks about turning the world's over-reaction to her daft antics into a hunger to help those in need— activism rather than embarrassment:
''I felt like what I was doing didn’t have value, because being a pop star was really silly when people are homeless and hungry. In 2013, when I did the VMAs, it became the biggest story in the world. I never expected that to happen. I just did my own thing. I went out there dressed as a teddy bear, danced with teddy bears, never thought about the world thinking that was going to be a bad thing. It was making me feel like I was living a dumb life — like I should just pick another job. I didn’t understand my power at that point. People listen because of who I am, so instead of being embarrassed, I should say: “Fuck yeah, I got the microphone.''
Realizing that her microphone could shout louder than a bunch of mean internet trolls, Miley turned her attentions to speaking out for those too vulnerable to speak for themselves. Her charitable organization, Happy Hippie, does some amazing work, and has given Miley a new direction:
''I am only doing ‘The Voice’ because that helps Happy Hippie. My empowerment comes from feeling like I have a purpose now. On my tombstone, I didn’t want the “Wrecking Ball” lyrics. I wanted it to be something greater.''
Miley's Happy Hippie Foundation raises money for youngsters struggling with their sexuality, kids often pushed into depression or homelessness by family members who refuse to accept them as they are. The decision to help at-risk youths in this bracket was partly informed by her own experience struggling with her sexuality:
''My whole life, I didn’t understand my own gender and my own sexuality. I always hated the word “bisexual,” because that’s even putting me in a box. I don’t ever think about someone being a boy or someone being a girl. Also, my nipple pasties and shit never felt sexualized to me. My eyes started opening in the fifth or sixth grade. My first relationship in my life was with a chick. I never related to loving being a girl. And then, being a boy didn’t sound fun to me.''
Miley took action and educated herself about what she was feeling, reaching out to others whose sexuality and/or gender presentation fell outside of society's norms.
''I went to the LGBTQ center here in L.A., and I started hearing these stories. I saw one human in particular who didn’t identify as male or female. Looking at them, they were both: beautiful and sexy and tough but vulnerable and feminine but masculine. And I related to that person more than I related to anyone in my life. Even though I may seem very different, people may not see me as neutral as I feel. But I feel very neutral. I think that was the first gender-neutral person I’d ever met. Once I understood my gender more, which was unassigned, then I understood my sexuality more. I was like, “Oh — that’s why I don’t feel straight and I don’t feel gay. It’s because I’m not.”
Miley's bold attitude set a precedent for other Disney stars to promote tolerance and go public with their support for the LGBTQ community:
''I’m the only fucking Disney star who would say I’m pro lesbian and gay, before it was OK to say that.''