Pop singer Katy Perry attended the Human Rights Campaign Gala in Los Angeles on Saturday to accept the National Equality Award, the highest honor given out by the LGBT civil rights advocacy group. The “Chained To The Rhythm” singer’s acceptance speech was reportedly a mix of celebrating acceptance by the Perry of the present, while also a reflecting on her more conservative past.
Since coming onto the scene in the late 2000s, Perry has become an icon for a generation of music fans, both young and old, who see her as a symbol of artistic positivity and inclusiveness. She was keen to acknowledge her more non-accepting past, however, explaining that to understand where one is headed in life, means you have to also look at where one comes from.
“My first words were ‘mama’ and ‘dada,’ ‘God’ and ‘Satan,'” Perry said about her strict religious upbringings in her acceptance speech. “When I was growing up, homosexuality was synonymous with the word ‘abomination’…and hell.”
She would go on to explain how the ability to sing eventually led her into the famously liberal world of music and the arts. “In a twist of events,” she continued, “I found my gift, and my gift introduced me to people outside of my bubble. My bubble started to burst.”
Any doubts of her ability to accept anyone and everyone who attends her concerts was wiped away for good with the release of her 2010 hit single, “Firework.” The anthem sent the world a message of love and acceptance with inspiring lyrics like, “Baby you’re a firework/Come on show them what you’re worth.”
Perry closed out her speech in saying that she would not be the woman she is today without the people in her life, many of which are part of the LGBTQ community, including her longtime manager, “Bradford Elton Cobb III.” Perry can be seen holding back tears in the Twitter video below while referring to Cobb as, “one of the greatest champions of [her] life.”
“I hope I stand here as evidence for all that it doesn’t matter where you come from, it is about where you are going. Real change, real evolution and real perception shift can happen if we open our minds and soften our hearts. People can change — believe me.”
Perry had been an outspoken advocate for the Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton throughout her Presidential campaign in 2016. Clinton even surprised the singer onstage just weeks after losing the 2016 election to award Perry with the Audrey Hepburn Humanitarian Award at UNICEF’s Annual Snowflake Gala.