By Suzannah Weiss. Photos: Getty Images.
Contrary to what some of her critics have claimed, Katy Perry didn't just sing about kissing girls for shock value or sex appeal. While accepting the National Equality Award from the Human Rights Campaign at a gala in L.A. on Saturday, she talked about what it was like to grow up in a religious community while experiencing same-sex attraction.
"I speak my truths, and I paint my fantasies into these little bite-size pop songs. For instance, 'I kissed a girl and I liked it.' Truth be told, I did more than that," she said. When the song first came out in 2008, Perry said she hadn't actually "kissed a girl," but three years later she clarified that she had but didn't want to admit it—thanks to a couple of "'sleazy' male journalists" that made her feel uncomfortable.
She further explained her internal conflict about her sexuality in her acceptance speech Saturday evening, explaining that part of it was due to her ultra-religious upbringing. "How was I going to reconcile that with a gospel-singing girl raised in youth groups that were pro-conversion camps? What I did know was I was curious, and even then I knew sexuality wasn't as black and white as this [Rasario] 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, and a lot of the world seemed curious enough to sing along, too."
When she says she's made mistakes before, she might be referring to the 2008 song "Ur So Gay," in which she criticizes a guy for his feminine qualities. Since then, she's made an effort to do better. In 2012, she told Parade Magazine that, "I came from a different mindset growing up, and my mind has changed. My viewpoint on all these things—equality for women, the choice to love anyone you want."
More recently, Perry has dedicated her "Firework" video to the It Gets Better project, which creates videos to give LGBT people hope for their futures; campaigned for Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton; and spoken out in support of same-sex marriage.
At the gala, Perry said her time in the music industry helped her become more aware of LGBT issues—and to find a more accepting environment for herself. "[My work] introduced me to people outside my bubble, and my [bubble started to burst](," she said. "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."
This story originally appeared on Glamour.
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