Katy Perry is no stranger to supporting progressive causes and those who push them forward — but that wasn't always the case, and she's the first person to tell you that she learned how your life can change when you open your mind and move beyond the familiar.
At the Human Rights Campaign's gala dinner in Los Angeles on March 18, Perry — who was honored with the National Equality Award by the organization — was candid about the ways in which her religious upbringing shaped her world view, especially when it came to the topic of sexuality.
"I'm just a singer/songwriter, honestly," she said. "I speak my truths, and I paint my fantasies into these little bite-sized pop songs. For instance: 'I Kissed A Girl And I Liked It.' Truth be told, a) I did more than that, and b) how was I going to reconcile that with a 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 wasn't as black and white as this dress. And honestly, I haven't always gotten it right. But in 2008, when that song come out, I knew that I started a conversation that a lot of the world seemed curious enough to sing along to."
Perry noted that her first words were "mama, dada, God, and Satan," that she used to "pray the gay away" at Jesus camp as a kid. Her experiences as an up-and-coming musician changed that, because it brought her out of one exclusive community and into an inclusive one.
"My gift introduced me to people outside my bubble, and my bubble started to burst," she said. "These people were nothing like I had been taught to fear. They were the most free, strong, kind, and inclusive people I had ever met. They stimulated my mind, and they filled my heart with joy, and they freaking danced all the while doing it. These people are actually magic, and they are magic because they are living their truth."
She stressed that she's living proof that people can change, especially when they open their minds, and she closed by stressing how important it is to lend your voice for the causes you believe in — especially now.
"The loudest voice in the room or on your TV set isn't always right," she said. "But that little voice inside of you pushing you to discover who you are is a trusted friend."