When accepting the National Equality Award at the Human Rights Campaign gala over the weekend, singer Katy Perry gave an emotional speech that referenced her move away from the conservative Christianity of her youth to the more LGBT-friendly world of pop music.
Her speech was a proud denunciation of the anti-gay beliefs of her former Christian life. The relevant portion begins around the 37:10 mark of the video below.
I’m just a singer-songwriter, honestly. 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… But (B) How was I gonna reconcile that with a gospel-singing girl raised in youth groups that were pro-conversion camps?
What I did know is that I was curious. And even then, I knew 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 came out, I knew that I started a conversation. That a lot of the world seemed curious enough to sing along, too.
Let’s take a trip down memory lane for a second. My first words were “Mama” and “Dada,” “God” and “Satan.” Right and wrong were taught to me on felt boards and, of course, through the glamorous Jan Crouch, crying diamond teardrops every night on that vaseline TBN television screen. (Make some noise if you know who I’m talking about.)
When I was growing up, homosexuality was synonymous with the word “abomination” and hell. A place of gnashing of teeth, continuous burning of skin, and probably Mike Pence’s ultimate guest list for a barbecue. No way, no way. I wanted the pearly gates and the unlimited fro-yo toppings!
So, most of my unconscious adolescence, I prayed the gay away at my Jesus camps. But then, in the middle of it all, in a twist of events, I found my gift, and my gift introduced me to people outside of my bubble. And my bubble started to burst.
These people were nothing like I had been taught to fear. 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 goddess, what a revelation — and not the last chapter of the Bible.
Suffice to say, it has been a long road for me, and I’m sure, a long road for many of you out there. 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 learned. 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.
Many of the people I admire and trust and work with belong to the LGBTQ community, and without them, I would be half of the person I am today. My life is rich in every capacity because of them. They are trusted allies that provide a safe space to fall, to not know it all, and to make mistakes.
These are the people I hold dear.
See, I hope I stand here as real evidence for all that, no matter where you came from, it’s about where you are going, and that real change, real evolution, and real perception shift can happen if we open our minds and soften our hearts. People can change…
When one of the most popular singers on the planet can give testimony about why she’s thrilled to walk away from her evangelical upbringing, that can’t possibly bode well for the people still trying to sell bigoted Christian lies to the masses.