Pop superstar Katy Perry opened up about her religious upbringing during the Human Rights Campaign’s annual gala dinner in Los Angles Saturday night, explaining that she felt “curious” about her sexuality while attending Christian youth groups as a child.
While accepting the evening’s National Equality Award, the 32-year-old “Roar” singer — who was raised by two pastors and began her singing career in churches — said that she had spent her childhood attempting to “pray the gay away at Jesus camps.”
Perry added that the lyrics to her 2008 breakout single “I Kissed a Girl” were just a tease of what she’d done during her upbringing.
“Truth be told, I did more than that,” she said, according to the Hollywood Reporter. “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 I was curious, and even then I knew sexuality was not as black and white as this dress. But in 2008, when that song came out, I knew that I started a conversation, and a lot of the world seemed curious enough to sing along, too.”
The singer said her childhood “bubble started to burst” when she was introduced to LGBT people in her professional life.
“These people were nothing like I had been taught to fear,” she said. “They were the most free, strong, kind and inclusive people I have 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. Oh, my goodness, what a revelation… and not the last chapter of the Bible.”
Perry wasn’t the only celebrity to be honored for her work on behalf of the LGBT community at the event; actress America Ferrera earned the night’s Ally for Equality Award.
In presenting Ferrera’s award, fellow actress Lena Dunham said she has never met another artist “more eager to lift up the voices of her sisterhood.” The pair previously shared a stage at the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia last year.
“Anything I ever did for the rights of this community I did because I believe — with every fiber of my being — that my liberation is bound up in the liberation of my LGBTQ brothers and sisters, and in the liberation of my black brothers and sisters, and in the liberation of immigrants, and refugees, and Muslims, and Sikhs, and women all over the world, and the incarcerated, and the criminalized, and the uneducated, and the poor, and the hungry, and, and, and, and, and,” Ferrera said.
Watch the full livestream of HRC’s gala dinner here.
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