Get together a bunch of bands – some well-known, some not so well-known – and go out on the road for a tour in support of the gay and lesbian community and human rights issues. And she even had the perfect name for it: the .

“I actually was inspired by [the song] ‘True Colors,'” Lauper told Pollstar. “When I was pregnant with my son, I had a minute to read e-mail. The same kind of letter kept coming up, where people said that when they came out they were cut off from their family, their friends and their job.

“The truth is people don’t ask to be gay or lesbian or transgender or bisexual. You just are. You shouldn’t be depressed about who you are. Everybody’s different. You’re not hurting anybody by being who you are. That’s why we live in America.

“That song means a lot of different things to a lot of different people, but especially to the [GLBT] community. So I’ve always wanted to do something to give back to the GLBT community.”

She pitched the idea to her manager, Lisa Barbaris, and then to her agent, industry veteran Jonny Podell, both of whom are also Lauper’s close friends. They agreed and set to work on making it happen.

Then reality set in.

Podell says putting the tour together was one of the most difficult things he’s ever tackled in his long and storied career, and it gave him a new respect for producers.

“It was so much more work than I had ever envisioned,” he told Pollstar. “We’re not really producers. So what did we know?”

Barbaris agrees.

“Cyndi and I didn’t know how much work these things are, or how much work it is just to get it to the starting line, let alone the finish line,” she told Pollstar.

In fact, the tour was supposed to happen in 2006, but was canceled at the last minute when as Podell puts it, “We realized we didn’t have our shit together.”

However everyone involved agrees the motivation behind the tour – raising awareness of gay and lesbian and human rights issues – was too important to give up.

“It seems like things are deteriorating for the gay community,” Barbaris said. “Which is kind of weird, because usually we take steps forward. And somehow, in this country, we keep taking steps backwards.”

So after another year of preparation and hard work, plus bringing in the Human Rights Campaign (which a portion of every ticket will be donated to), The Matthew Shepard Foundation, PFLAG and the LOGO cable network, they were able to pull it off.

Podell said they’ve gotten a lot of cooperation and understanding from all the artists involved, which made things a little easier.

“Everybody has been really wonderful about kind of overlooking, let’s say, some of our lack of being buttoned up in some areas,” he said.

One act that didn’t hesitate to say yes was Erasure. Lauper is a big fan of the band, and Podell is their agent in the States.

Singer Andy Bell told Pollstar the admiration is mutual, and he thinks doing a tour that supports the HRC is vital right now.

“I think it’s quite important, because of things like Guantanamo Bay in the U.S.,” Bell said. “I think human rights have kind of been put onto the back burner.”

Other artists who answered the call include Lauper’s friend Deborah Harry, The Dresden Dolls, The Gossip, The Cliks, The Misshapes and host Margaret Cho, as well as a few who will make special appearances along the way, like Rufus Wainwright, Indigo Girls and Rosie O’Donnell.

Lauper, Podell and Barbaris all agree that part of the idea behind the lineup was to give some up-and-coming bands they admired a leg up.

Of course, the coolest lineup in the world won’t do you any good if you don’t have a place to play. Fortunately, the reception from the touring industry encouraging.

Podell said that even when there was some reticence from promoters and venues, it was more about the idea of a package tour than the cause behind the tour.

“I think it was more the fear in the music business about ‘Do ensemble shows work?’ Does the public see a show with five acts and go ‘Oh, we’re not getting full performances or is this going to be speeches?’ That was the challenge we had to overcome in the marketing and the advertising. But we did it together and promoters and venues were very helpful.”

The final routing for the tour includes a number of high-profile venues: the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas (where the tour kicks off June 8), Chicago’s Auditorium Theatre, New York’s Radio City Music Hall, Atlanta’s Chastain Park Amphitheatre and both of California’s Greek Theatres – Berkeley and Los Angeles. Lauper is also getting to play a venue she’s had her sights on for a long time.

“Oh, my God,” she said. “We’re playing Red Rocks. My whole life I wanted to play Red Rocks, and we’re playing there. Isn’t that great?”

In the end, everyone involved has pretty much the same hopes for what the tour can accomplish this year and what the future holds for it.

“I just want everybody in the business, when they think of True Colors, to say ‘Successful,'” Podell said. “I want the artists to feel it was a positive experience, and I want the gay community to feel some ownership and to feel really good about the way we executed it.”

“For the future, what we’re hoping for – there is no second year unless you have a successful first year, because who’s going to fund it? Next year we intend to really roll it out in a much bigger way – more cities, perhaps all big venues as opposed to this time where it’s half small and half big. And we’re hoping the True Colors tour develops into a full-purpose True Colors brand, including a clothing line and cruises, and that we can do more for the GLBT community.”

For her part, Lauper, sticking close to the sentiments of her biggest hit, says most of all she just wants everybody to have fun.

“We’re going to get together and have a party and celebrate each other and sing together and be together,” she said. “It’s five hours of fun and music and we’re going to celebrate. We’re going to celebrate our differences.”-