The quintessential California Gurl and 21st century pop icon #KatyPerry has come a long way since she first shot to the top of the charts like a firework in 2008 with her hit single "I Kissed A Girl." These days you're just as likely to find her palling around with Hillary Clinton and advocating for women's rights as you are to catch her dancing on table tops and spraying whipped cream out of her bra. In fact, last Saturday night, she received the National Equality Award at the 2017 Human Rights Commission Los Angeles Gala. In her speech, she addressed what it was like to grow up in a hyper religious and conservative environment, and how important it was to burst that bubble.
Oh — and she mentioned that she did way more than just "kiss" a girl.
The 32-year-old singer told the audience about the story surrounding her first single:
"Truth be told, I did more than that! But how was I going to reconcile that with the gospel-singing girl raised in youth groups that were pro conversion camps? What I did know was that I was curious, and even then I knew that sexuality was not as black and white as this dress... But in 2008, when that song came out, I knew that it started a conversation that a lot of the world seemed curious enough to sing along to it."
Perry was raised by born-again Christian parents in Santa Barbara, California:
"When I was growing up, 'homosexuality' was synonymous with 'abomination' and 'hell' — a place of gnashing of teeth, continuous burning of skin, and probably Mike Pence's ultimate guest list for a barbecue."
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It was only after she started to explore her talent as an artist that she met people that opened her mind to the world around her:
"These people were nothing like I had been taught to fear. They were the most free, strong, kind, and inclusive people that I have ever met. They stimulated my mind, and they filled my heart with joy, and they danced with joy while doing it. These people are actually, magic, and they are magic because they are living their truth."
She left the audience with a few more words of inspiration, and a promise to continue working toward equality in the future:
"Priceless lessons happen large. The path of discovery has made me, has tested me, and forever changed me. You don’t get to choose your family, but you can choose your tribe,” she said. “I stand here as real evidence for all that no matter where you came from it is about where you are going, that real change, real evolution, and that real perception shift can happen, if we open our minds and soften our hearts... No longer can I sit in silence. I have to stand up what I feel is true and that is equality and justice for all, period."