Katy Perry Not Allowed to Interact With Gay People as a Kid

A free-spirited pop star and LGBTQ+ advocate that we’ve all fallen in love with has an upbringing that is quite different than what you’d expect.

Katy Perry, born Katheryn Hudson, recently opened up about her strict childhood and why she considers herself to be the “black sheep” of her family to Vogue Magazine for their May 2017 issue. Perry, a native of Santa Barbara, California, was raised by evangelical Christian pastors that sheltered her from the world in what she calls a “bubble beyond the bubble with like-minded people.” While recalling that education was not a priority when she was growing up, she also mentioned that she was “not able to interact with gay people” and “there was some generational racism.” At the age of 15, she fell in love with her first imaginative perspective of what the world was like (led on by the 70s rock group Queen and their sexually provocative lead singer Freddie Mercury) so much that it made her feel accepted and free, and by the age of 17 that feeling motivated her to move to Los Angeles to pursue the career she really wanted. Perry considers her epic world tours as a means of “re-education” and attributes her curious nature for being where she is today.

Last month, the 32-year-old “I Kissed A Girl” singer continued to acknowledge the truth about her past while accepting the National Equality Award that recognized her work as an advocate for equal (especially for the LGBTQ+ community) rights at the Human Rights Campaign Gala.

“I’m just a singer-songwriter, honestly. 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 … 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 is that I was curious and even then, I knew sexuality wasn’t as black and white as this dress.”

-       Katy Perry at Human Rights Campaign Gala

She proceeded to open up about her religious upbringing and her continuous battle of balancing her sexuality with religion by mentioning that homosexuality “was synonymous with the words abomination and hell” when she was growing up. She concluded her speech by calling the LGBTQ+ community, one in which she was taught to fear, the most “free, strong, kind, and inclusive people” that she has ever met while also calling them “magic” because “they are living in their truth.” After the gala, she tweeted in sparkly excitement, “I will never cease to be a champion, an ally, a spotlight, and a loving voice for all LGBTQ+ identifying people,” and as for her parents, she just agrees to disagree.

Check out a portion of her acceptance speech:

Read more about Katy Perry’s story and her conservative upbringing in the May 2017 issue of Vogue currently available in stores (April 25).