Watch: Katy Perry Tells Audience at HRC Gala: I was Taught to 'Pray the Gay Away'
Katy Perry made a moving speech while accepting the National Equality Award at the 2017 Human Rights Campaign Gala in Los Angeles Saturday night, opening up about her Christian background, the Guardian reports.
The pop star confessed she was taught to "pray the gay away at Jesus Camp" and talked about the messages in her songs.
"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," Perry, 32, said, referencing her 2008 single "I Kissed a Girl."
At the time the song, along with "Ur So Gay," which carries the lyric "and you don't even like boys," was criticized for demeaning LGBT people. But Perry defended her music at the event.
"Truth be told, I did more than that. But how was I going to reconcile that with the gospel-singing girl raised in youth groups that were pro-conversion camps?" she told the crowd. "What I did know was that I was curious and even then I knew sexuality wasn't as black and white as this dress.
"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.
The singer has been a long-time supporter of LBGT rights and campaigned for Hillary Clinton during the 2016 presidential election.
HRC President Chad Griffin said in a statement Perry has used her "powerful voice and international platform to speak out for LGBTQ equality".
"Her compelling advocacy, from the stage to the campaign trail, has had a profound effect on the lives of LGBTQ people -- and, in particular, young people," he said. "Katy's message of inclusion and equality continues to inspire us and the world."
At the gala, Perry went on to discuss her Christian upbringing, as the Guardian points out.
"My first words were 'mama' and 'dada', 'God' and 'Satan,'" she said. "...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 continued. "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. ...
"You don't get to choose your family, but you can choose your tribe."
The "Chained to the Rhythm" singer later tweeted about LGBT rights.
Watch Perry's HRC speech below, which starts around the 34-minute mar.