Katy Perry’s got one heck of a voice — and she’s using it to make a difference.
The pop star, who has long been outspoken about her personal views, went from being raised by devout Christian pastors to recording provocative tunes like breakout hit “I Kissed a Girl.” Now the musical firecracker is using her influence — that’s 107 million followers’ worth on Twitter alone — to take a stand on issues from women’s rights and gun reform to religion and politics.
In honor of her recent FN cover, we take a look back at the 33-year-old talent’s biggest political statements in years past.
The topic of gun reform was pushed back into the national conversation following the tragic Parkland school shooting that claimed the lives of 17 people on Valentine’s Day. A month later, Perry and a slew of A-listers including Chris Evans and Yara Shahidi took to their online platforms to show solidarity for students participating in the national school walkout and endorse the March for Our Lives movement in support of stricter gun control laws.
“On the one-month anniversary of the Parkland school shooting, students are walking out in protest of Congress’ failure to act on gun violence. Let’s support them, and the March to Washington DC in ten days,” the songstress wrote on Twitter.
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But that’s not the first time she’s advocated for gun reform. Two years before the incident, she joined Lady Gaga, Selena Gomez and nearly 200 other celebrities in signing an open letter that urged Congress to require a background check for each gun sale and prevent suspected terrorists from purchasing firearms. The petition, written with the aid of nonprofit group Everytown for Gun Safety, covered the July 2 issue of Billboard and came almost a year after the mass killing at Orlando’s Pulse nightclub that left 49 people dead.
And last year, she took time during the New York City leg of her “Witness” tour to address the Las Vegas shooting on Oct. 1 that cost 59 concertgoers’ lives — the deadliest mass shooting committed by an individual in American history.
“There’s a community here that we need to take care of, that we need to surround, that we need to lift up,” Perry said onstage. “And I know that we all feel really disconnected sometimes, but I know music brings us together, and it should never be a place of fear, right?”
Feminism & LGBTQ Rights
Although she’s received criticism that songs “I Kissed a Girl” and “Ur So Gay” respectively promoted sexist and homophobic undertones, Perry continues to leverage her reach to champion the LGBTQ community.
Last year, when President Donald Trump announced a ban on transgender people serving in the military, the singer fired back in a tweet with the hashtag #ProtectTransTroops. “ALL those who defend our right to live freely should be able to serve freely! There are THOUSANDS currently serving!”
The tweet came just four months after Perry took the podium at the Human Rights Campaign gala to accept the National Equality Award, explaining in her speech how she was taught in her childhood years that “homosexuality was synonymous with the word ‘abomination.'”
“I prayed the gay away at my Jesus camps,” she added.
Perry has also been vocal about her support for same-sex marriage as well as pro-LGBT groups It Gets Better Project and The Trevor Project.
Perry’s new album “Witness” marked a musical shift for the pop star, who made a political statement when she performed its lead single, “Chained to the Rhythm,” at the 2017 Grammy Awards.
On stage with fellow artist Skip Marley, she rocked a Tom Ford pantsuit and an armband emblazoned with the word “persist.” (The former was a nod to the all-white ensembles worn by members of the women’s suffragette movement while the latter made a reference to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s attempt to silence Senator Elizabeth Warren on the Senate floor.)
From the Planned Parenthood logo on the suit’s lapel to a projection that displayed the United States Constitution, Perry’s performance embodied “purposeful pop” — a term she has used to describe her new music.
Although newly defined, the genre has lived in the singer-songwriter’s past work, including empowering jams “Roar” and “Rise.”
Marching On, Again
Among the thousands who stormed the streets of Washington, D.C., in the Women’s March last January, Perry carried a sign that delivered a strong message. It read “hell hath no fury like a woman reborn” — a lyric straight from another one of her liberating tracks, “Power.” (The nationwide event, which also gained traction internationally, immediately followed Trump’s inauguration as president of the United States, and sought to bring more attention to women’s rights, immigration reform, racial equality and other social issues.)
Even more, the “Swish Swish” vocalist led one of the crowd’s chants, declaring, “What do we want? Equality!” She met with fellow activist Gloria Steinem, who rose to prominence as one of the leaders and spokespeople for the American feminist movement in the late ’60s and early ’70s. She also linked up with Senator Cory Booker, the first African-American to serve as senator in New Jersey.
Campaigning for Clinton
Perry and former Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton share an enviable friendship — one that is rooted not only in similar values, but also mutual admiration.
In her bid for the presidency, the politician hosted rallies, fundraisers and other related events attended by Perry herself. (Conversely, Clinton has posed in Perry’s shoes to promote her eponymous collection.)
In early November, with days to go before the election, the musician even joined Clinton at the Mann Center for the Performing Arts in Philadelphia, where she helped give the campaign its final push to mobilize supporters in a battleground state.
Performing ahead of a backdrop that read “Love Trumps Hate,” Perry was clad in a blue ensemble with a coat that had the words “I’m with Madam President” embellished across the back.
Despite the result of the presidential election, the two have remained close friends. Clinton even surprised Perry at the UNICEF Snowflake Ball later that year, presenting her with the humanitarian award and exchanging a tight embrace onstage.
Rock the Vote
In a humorous attempt to get citizens to vote on Election Day, Perry teamed up with comedy production site Funny or Die and progressive-aligned nonprofit group Rock the Vote to release a short film that featured a popcorn-covered, disheveled-looking, naked Katy taking to the polls.
“This year, you can look like s— when you vote,” she said in the video. “Yep, I’ve briefly scanned the Constitution, and nowhere does it say you can’t just roll out of bed and come to the polls in whatever state you woke up in. In the name of democracy, any just-out-of-bed look is a-okay.”
Watch it here:
Fashion Forward (Literally)
Call it activist-chic or sartorial patriotism — Katy Perry knows how to dress for the press.
Years before the 2016 presidential election, she appeared before thousands of Democratic supporters at a rally for President Barack Obama at the Delta Center in Milwaukee. It was there that she made one of her most memorable political fashion statements, appearing onstage in a red, white and blue dress that she tossed aside during her performance to reveal another, more provocative number: A body-hugging mini dress with the word “Forward” — both Obama’s campaign slogan and Wisconsin’s state motto — printed across the front.
Say what you will, but there’s no denying that Perry is unapologetically opinionated.
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