SANTA MONICA, CA - APRIL 06: Singer Katy Perry attends the celebration of Chanel's Gabrielle Bag hosted by Caroline De Maigret and Pharrell Williams at Giorgio Baldi on April 6, 2017 in Santa Monica, California. (Photo by Frazer Harrison/Getty Images)
Frazer Harrison—Getty Images
April 14, 2017 3:12 PM EDT

Pop sensation and Hillary Clinton superfan Katy Perry wasn’t always the “California Gurls” colorfully clad star known in Hollywood today. As Vogue‘s May cover star, Perry shares how growing up in a sheltered, religious household shaped who she is today and how the 2016 presidential election generated “a lot of trauma” for her.

Born Katheryn Hudson, Perry says she grew up in a “bubble beyond the bubble” as the daughter of evangelical pastors and wasn’t even “allowed to interact with gay people.” Dubbing herself as the family’s “black sheep” daughter, the singer moved to Los Angeles when she was 17-years-old to pursue music.

Perry’s road to musical stardom relates back to her religious roots. She recorded a gospel album in Nashville when she was thirteen, but she experienced a symphonic epiphany upon hearing Queen’s lead singer Freddie Mercury when she was fifteen. “I had never heard such an imaginative explanation of how to live,” she recalled. “That was my first perspective on that world, and I just loved it. I felt so free and accepted.”

Perry’s journey to becoming one of the most popular musicians, however, wasn’t easy. After a choppy start in Hollywood, Perry’s career trajectory took off when she was 25, thanks to her Teenage Dream album. She explained how she stayed motivated throughout the turbulent times: “I had so much ambition and determination, and that’s what kept me going. The rocket was riding me for a bit, but now I am riding the rocket.”

Perry also doesn’t hide her political beliefs and encourages others to take action. “I think you have to stand for something… If you have a voice you have a responsibility to use it now, more than ever,” she said.

Donald Trump’s victory over Clinton brought up dark memories for the singer because it hit so close to home. She explained, “Misogyny and sexism were in my childhood: I have an issue with suppressive males and not being seen as equal. I felt like a little kid again being faced with a scary, controlling guy.” Perry praised young women and activists for their work: “I think teenage girls are going to save the world! That age group just seems to be holding people accountable. They have a really strong voice — and a loud one.”

Read the rest of her Vogue cover story here.

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