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Katy Perry is a fierce advocate for the LGBTQ community. From her music to her politics, she uses her powerful voice and celebrity to promote a message of acceptance and inclusiveness for all walks of life.

As such, she was recognized with a National Equality Award at the 2017 Human Rights Campaign Gala in LA over the weekend.

But Perry wasn’t always the sparkly rainbow she is today, a fact that she opened up about in her touching acceptance speech.

“My first words were ‘mama’ and ‘dada’, ‘God’ and ‘Satan'” said Perry, who was raised by two Protestant pastors. “…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.”

In fact, before her foray into pop in 2001, Perry released a bunch of Christian gospel songs under the name Katy Hudson. It’s hard to imagine, since her radio hits that we know and love to sing along to are edgy and sometimes controversial, like her 2008 debut into mainstream music, I Kissed A Girl. (Yup, that’s going to be stuck in your head all day now.)

“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 said.

“Truth be told, I did more than [kiss a girl]. But how was I going to reconcile that with the gospel-singing girl raised in youth groups that were pro-conversion camps?

“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.”

Her advocacy for equality isn’t going unnoticed. The Twitterverse is alive with praise for the 32-year-old singer.

She’s certainly come a long way from the “pro-conversion camps” girl her parents raised.

“It’s time to lead with empathy and grace and compassion now more than ever to find the unity we need now,” Perry told the crowd on Saturday night. “I’ll never cease to be a champion, an ally, a spotlight and a loving voice for all LGBTQ-identifying people.”

The world needs more voices like hers: loud, proud, inclusive and sparkly AF.