American singer and songwriter Katy Perry, an LGBT rights advocate, says she grew up being taught to “pray the gay away at Jesus camps”.
The 32-year-old pop star made an emotional speech while accepting the National Equality Award at the 2017 Human Rights Campaign Gala here on Saturday night, reports guardian.com.
Perry’s religious upbringing is widely known, with her parents both Protestant pastors. In 2001, before her breakout pop success, she released a collection of Christian gospel songs as Katy Hudson.
She said: “My first words were ‘mama’ and ‘dada’, ‘God’ and ‘Satan’.”
“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 BBQ. … 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 my bubble, and my bubble started to burst.”
“These people were nothing like I’d been taught to fear. They were the most free, strong, kind and inclusive people I had ever met… Oh my goddess, what a revelation – and not the last chapter of the Bible,” Perry said.
“Suffice to say, it’s 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 not have chosen a different road…”
Perry said, “You don’t get to choose your family, but you can choose your tribe.”
Through her songs like “I kissed a girl”, Perry says, “I speak my truths and I paint my fantasies into these little bite-sized pop songs”.
“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 to,” Perry said.