Kathmandu (Pahichan) August 10 – Mere hours after President Donald Trump issued a ban on transgender people serving in the military, Katy Perryroared back by tweeting “#ProtectTransTroops” along with this impassioned message of support to her more than 100 million Twitter followers: “ALL those who defend our right to live freely should be able to serve freely! There are THOUSANDS currently serving!”
This isn’t the first time the 32-year-old singer, who has performed for America’s troops several times and is the most-followed Twitter user in the world, has leveraged her enormous online and offline reach to stand up for the LGBTQ community.
But like most pop stars’ careers, Perry’s isn’t without controversy. A few early career moments put her ally-ship into question for critics who think her 2008 breakout hit “I Kissed A Girl” fetishized lesbians or who assert her 2007 “Ur So Gay” had homophobic undertones.
Yet year after year since then, Perry has continued to be an outspoken advocate for equality, going through a notable evolution after having been raised by strict parents who were born-again-Christians-turned-pastors. “When I was growing up, homosexuality was synonymous with the word abomination and hell … so most of my unconscious adolescence I prayed the gay away at my Jesus camps,” said Perry, describing her past while accepting the Human Rights Campaign’s National Equality Award in March 2017. Her mindset shifted after she left that religious bubble and met people in the LGBTQ community.
“These people were nothing like I’d been taught to fear. They were the most free, strong, kind and inclusive people I have ever met. They stimulated my mind and they filled my heart with joy and they freaking danced all the while doing it. These people are actually magic and they are magic because they are living their truth.”
Here are six more ways Katy Perry has unconditionally supported the LGBTQ community, as we prepare for her to host the MTV Video Music Awards and to judge on ABC’s American Idol reboot — two major televised music events where we’re hopeful she’ll continue speaking up for equal rights.
- She Dedicated her ‘Firework’ Video to the It Gets Better Project
Perry dedicated the video for her self-empowerment anthem “Firework” to the It Gets Better Project, a worldwide movement against harassment of LGBTQ youth. Viewed more than 1 billion times on YouTube since 2010, the Dave Meyers-directed video features a storyline about a gay teen boy who embraces his sexuality.
Perry snatched Video of the Year at the 2011 Video Music Awards for “Firework,” a Billboard Hot 100 No. 1 hit inspired by this popular line in author Jack Kerouac’s On the Road: “The only people for me are the mad ones, the ones who are mad to live, mad to talk, mad to be saved, desirous of everything at the same time, the ones who never yawn or say a commonplace thing but burn, burn, burn like fabulous yellow roman candles exploding like spiders across the stars and in the middle you see the blue centerlight pop and everybody goes, ‘Awww!'”
Perry closed out her 2015 Super Bowl Halftime Show singing “Firework” while being hoisted by a mechanical shooting star that carried her around the football stadium in all its technicolor glory.
- She Championed Transgender Rights and Awareness
Aside from speaking out against Trump’s ban on transgender military personnel, Perry previously joined the fight for transgender rights in 2017 when she publicly backed Gavin Grimm, the Virginia teenager who was thrust into the national spotlight as the face of the ongoing bathroom debate after Trump declared he’d revoke transgender students’ rights to use bathrooms that correspond with their gender identities instead of their sex assigned at birth.
In 2012, Perry recognized Transgender Day of Remembrance by spending it with staff and volunteers from The Trevor Project, a crisis intervention and suicide prevention organization for LGBTQ youth, in order to learn more about gender non-conforming people and their challenges. “I hope in the future we will all be able to grow beyond labels,” Perry said while accepting the Trevor Project’s Hero Award at TrevorLive in 2012. “I believe everyone has value and everyone deserves respect and everyone deserves a chance to live their dream regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity or race or religion or size or the color of their hair or whether their favorite Golden Girl is Blanche or Dorothy. … I thank you all for this award and for educating me so that I can educate others.”
- She Backed Marriage Equality Everywhere
After Barack Obama became the first sitting U.S. president to openly express support for same-sex marriage in 2012, Perry told Parade she was “really happy” about the historic political moment: “My viewpoint on all these things — equality for women, the choice to love anyone you want — hopefully, we will look back at this moment and think like we do now concerning [other] civil rights issues. We’ll just shake our heads in disbelief, saying, ‘Thank God we’ve evolved.'”
The Supreme Court made same-sex marriage legal three years later in June 2015, ruling states’ bans against them are unconstitutional. Perry reacted by tweeting this #LoveWins message:
Perry previously celebrated another victory for marriage equality in 2010 when California’s Proposition 8, which stated that the only valid marriage was between a man and a woman, was ruled unconstitutional.
- She Surprised This Man Who Survived the Orlando Gay Nightclub Massacre
After a gunman fatally shot 49 people inside Orlando’s gay nightclub Pulse on June 12, 2016, in the deadliest shooting in U.S. history, survivor Tony Marrero listened to a particular Katy Perry song on repeat while he recovered from being shot four times in the back and losing a close friend.
“The lyrics to [‘Rise’] are so powerful. Every word in that song is just powerful, so I embraced it. My boyfriend is annoyed already by the song, but I play it and play it and play it because it’s so beautiful,” he said before Ellen DeGeneres set up a tearful surprise meeting with him and Perry.
He tearfully looked her in the eyes, held her hand and told her, “I just want to say thank you for everything you do. Your lyrics to that song helped me from the day I was in the hospital all the way to now.”
- She’s Helping Give Talented Drag Queens More Visibility
Drag queens are more visible than ever to the general public, mostly thanks to RuPaul and the Emmy-winning queen’s reality show, Drag Race, which this year experienced its highest-ever ratings, was the subject of a Saturday Night Live skit starring Chris Pine, won Best Reality Competition at the 2017 MTV Movie & TV Awards, and just earned eight Emmy nominations.
Perry is also doing her part in increasing hardworking queens’ visibility by prominently including many New York City queens in her SNL performance of “Swish Swish.” She’ll continue to give drag queens a massively public stage to showcase their beauty and talent when the “Swish Swish” video comes out. The video reportedly will feature popular queens from Drag Race.
- She Delivered This Speech on Growth, Inclusion and Advocacy
“No longer can I sit in silence. I have to stand for what I know is true and that is equality and justice for all. Period,” Perry proclaimed during her 2017 speech after receiving the Human Rights Campaign’s National Equality Award. “That’s why the HRC is so important and I am so grateful for them being on the frontlines every day, from civil union legislation, to repealing Don’t Ask Don’t Tell, to getting rid of DOMA [Defense of Marriage Act] at the Supreme Court, which paved the way for marriage equality across the country, and continuing to fight for trans equality. … I’ll never cease to be a champion, an ally, a spotlight and a loving voice for all LGBTQ-identifying people.”
She earned the award, according to HRC President Chad Griffin, because her advocacy onstage and on Hillary Clinton’s campaign trail has positively impacted the LGBTQ community.
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