“I prayed the gay away at my Jesus camps.”
When pop singer Katy Perry burst on the scene in 2008 with her megahit “I Kissed A Girl,” many in the LGBT community were unsure whether she was an ally. That’s because another track on her album, “Ur So Gay,” uses the word “gay” as an insult. But nine years later, there’s no longer any doubt about Perry’s intentions as she was recently given a prestigious award for her LGBT advocacy by The Human Rights Campaign.
“We are thrilled to honor Katy Perry for using her powerful voice and international platform to speak out for LGBTQ equality,” HRC President Chad Griffin said. “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. Katy’s message of inclusion and equality continues to inspire us and the world.” During the award show, Perry used her platform to discuss how she dealt with her sexuality while growing up in an oppressive religious home.
“When I was growing up, homosexuality was synonymous with the word abomination and hell,” Perry said in her acceptance speech. “A place of gnashing of teeth, continuous burning of skin, and probably Mike Pence’s ultimate guest list for a barbecue… So most of my unconscious adolescence, I prayed the gay away at my Jesus camps.” Perry’s admission is important because studies show that the suicide rate among gay teens in religious households is higher than non-religious.
But after she stepped out and embraced her talents as a performer she began to embrace the gay community. “But then in the middle of it all —a twist of events— I found my gift. And my gift introduced me to people outside my bubble. And my bubble started to burst.” This experience led her to embrace her own sexuality as well. “I speak my truths and I paint my fantasies into these little bite size pop songs,” she explained. “For instance, ‘I kissed a girl and I liked it.’ Truth be told: a) I did more than that, but b) how was I going to reconcile that with a gospel-singing girl raised in youth groups that were pro-conversion camps?”