Photography by Sue Kwon
She launched her Happy Hippie Foundation, reportedly bought a horse ranch for even bigger backyard jams with her famous friends, and — oh yeah — sorta maybe kinda came out as queer. In an interview with the Associated Press, she said “not all her relationships were ‘straight, heterosexual ones,’” then declined to elaborate — until the next day, when during a Facebook Q&A she answered a fan’s follow-up about her sexuality by saying, sorry "I never want to label myself! I am ready to love anyone that loves me for who I am! I am open!"
Her comments to Out about struggling with the idea of being a girl when she was younger were also interpreted by some as a possible move towards a genderqueer identity, to which she responded on Instagram: “NOTHING can/will define me! Free to be EVERYTHING!!!” (She also ‘grammed a screenshot of our write-up with an adorable love note to her mom.)
In the rush to announce Miley’s ambitious and passionate new project, we left some other must-read quotes on the cutting room floor. Here’s more from her, including a great caveman metaphor, a big-time celebrity crush (or three) and a lot of inspirational wisdom far beyond her years.
ON CHANGING HER TUNE AT THE VMAs:
"About a year ago, for the VMA’s, everyone was looking at me, and everyone was talking about what I had done the year before. I just thought, it’s such this opportunity, that people are going to look for what am I going to do this time. And if I’m going to have all that attention, what do I actually want to say? What do people need to hear? There’s enough people that go on stage and go and shake your ass – what am I gonna do? What am I gonna do when that camera starts looking at me? I wanted to start with young people in LA, and as the year went on, there’d been tragic stories of young transgendered people — everywhere, really. The more I started realizing how woven into homelessness it was, and how people, these young kids, end up on the street in the first place — I started thinking a lot about acceptance, and how this movement has to happen. We have to evolve. It’s inevitable. We have to keep going. I kind of always imagined this as like cavemen being fine with fire, and so we just say, like, fuck electricity. That’s a crazy concept, and we would be fucked if that would have happened. That’s how I feel. It’s barbaric."
ON WORKING WITH AGAINST ME SINGER LAURA JANE GRACE:
"It’s so important that kids have an example right now. That’s what really is the most heartbreaking thing about negative reactions to someone like Bruce Jenner coming out. These kids, they say, 'Let’s see how it goes with Bruce. If people are accepting, then I’ll do it.' It’s a chain. If they see examples of positive people coming out, having positive reactions, they’re going to feel confident and free to do it. But when there’s negative reactions, it scares people. So, Laura Jane, being able to have her there I think is really important. She has a great doc series and I think, just, getting people to have a face and see someone perform and do what they love, and sing, and be."
ON THE IMPORTANCE OF SUPPORTING PARENTS, TOO:
"People like to make parents the enemy. My mom will probably never – our brains will never operate the same way. We’re just different. And everyone I think, at some point, does outgrow their parents’ generation. I think sometimes we outgrow our parents. Sometimes it’s hard for us to understand that. But, I think it’s really important that parents have a place to come and ask questions and talk to counselors and talk to other parents that are going through the same thing. I think there are probably a lot of parents that would want to support their kid, but they feel like they’re doing something wrong by supporting them. I think it’s mostly true that our parents love us, they don’t want us to hurt, and they don’t want us to experience what these young people experience. It’s a struggle. Maybe some of that comes from protection – but I think we can teach parents how to handle that properly and make their kids proud of who they are. You don’t want your kids to be scared of who they are because of something you said. I don’t know if there’s anything your parents said around you that stuck in your head, that you randomly pops in your head. But there’s tons of things my parents said to me that, even now as an adult, I’ll hear them. You’ve always got your parents’ voice in your head a little bit. And I think that these parents don’t realize too that you can really scar people by what you say, or make someone feel like they have to hide. I think some parents just don’t know how. They aren’t educated on it and it’s a different time, and they’ve got a lot to learn about how to support their kids and we’re giving them a place to do that."
ON BEING INSPIRED BY MARLON BRANDO AND OTHER OTHER ACTIVIST CELEBS:
"I think Angelina Jolie did something that was cool, because she’s the same way kind of I am. She’s not the typical person that you would look to as a philanthropy role model. I think I picture a dude in a suit. And to have that face – there’s something about her that’s not so serious even the she is very serious. She shows that she’s a human, she’s had a life, she’s done a lot of things that people wouldn’t understand. But that’s what she wants to do. And Bruce Jenner is my idol at the moment."
ON BEING FRUSTRATED BY BEING A GIRL:
"People never understood when I would say that when I was younger. I really think it was a bitterness that I had. I feel so powerful as a woman, I love it now. But I still have to remind myself sometimes. It wasn’t that I wanted to not be a girl. I didn’t want to be a boy. I 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. The definition is what I don’t like. The box is what I don’t like. It’s the [stereotype of] weakness, and the vulnerability. I don’t want, in my life ever, some prince dude to come save me. I don’t need to be saved. I’m my own person. I’m strong. As you get older I think I just started to celebrate it, because I learned more about what women really are. Being a woman, that’s everything to me. Without women there is no life. I’m empowered as well, because I really feel like I hold something that’s the secret in all of life and the power of it. But, it took me a while to get like that. It’s really nice to be able to have people to talk to, and that’s a lot of why we’re doing what we’re doing – because these kids don’t have friends they can say that to. I have a lot of great friends, and I talk about it all the time."
ON THE MEANING OF LIFE (REALLY):
"I’m 22, I grew up watching Ellen [DeGeneres] my whole life, so this concept of judgment is kind of foreign to me. I’ve never really experienced it with my family. My family’s always been really open for me to be whoever I want to be. I think that’s a freedom that everyone should have. Everyone should have freedom to say, I am being true to myself in every moment that I’m breathing. That’s what I think of that I can relay by just saying, be free to be who you want to be. And I think you kind of have to rule by example, and I hope that my fans see that — but also anyone that we’re fighting for – I really want them to see that I’m not just saying that. I really believe that that’s what life is. Life is to be happy."
WATCH: Happy Hippie Presents: No Freedom (Performed by Miley Cyrus)