Though Katy Perry has made her mark as a passionate, dedicated supporter of LGBTQ rights - it's a position that first demanded she fight against and overcome the suffocation of her strict conservative religious upbringing.
"When I was growing up, homosexuality was synoynmous with the word 'abomination' and 'hell'," Perry revealed onstage, while accepting the National Equality Award at this year's Human Rights Campaign gala. "So most of my unconscious adolescence, I prayed the gay away at my Jesus camps."
Perry was born to two Pentecostal pastors, both born-again Christians, and spent much of her youth attending religious schools and camps; though even at an early age, "I knew that sexuality wasn't as black and white".
"'I Kissed a Girl' and I liked it," Perry said, referencing her breakout hit. "Truth be told, I did more than that. But how I was I going to reconcile that with a gospel-singing girl raised in youth groups that were pro-conversion camps?"
She credited the friends and colleagues who helped her come to terms both with her own sexuality, and who opened her eyes to the LGBTQ community; as, "there is no other community that has done more to shape who I am today, and there is no other community that I believe in more than you."
"Suffice to say, it's been a long road for me, and I'm sure a long road for many of you out there," she added. "I know it doesn't always feel safe to live out who you are but, here's the thing though, I would have not chosen a different road. Priceless lessons have been learnt."
"I hope I stand here as real evidence for all," she also stated. "That no matter where you came from, it's about where you are going. And that real change, real evolution, and real perception shifts can happen if we open our minds and soften our hearts. People can change, believe me."
She concluded by underlining that, "I'll never cease to be a champion, an ally, a spotlight, and a loving voice for all LGBTQ-identifying people."
The HRC gala also saw America Ferrara accept the Ally for Equality Award, presented to her by Lena Dunham.
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