An emotional Kesha tried to hold back tears as she denounced gender and LGBT inequality in her emotional acceptance speech for the Human Rights Campaign’s Visibility Award.
“I have a very deep connection to the LGBT community,” the “We R Who We R” and “Tik Tok” singer, 29, told the crowd at the 21st Annual HRC Nashville Equality Dinner on Saturday in Tennessee. “As a little girl growing up here in Nashville . . . I was a very odd little kid with homemade clothes and an inability to fit in. . . . I often felt like a misfit, so then I often gravitated towards other social outsiders, many of them in the LGBT community, though back then we didn’t know what LGBT meant. We just knew we got bullied for being ourselves, shamed for being different and encouraged to hide the things that made us unique.”
That community, she said, gave her the impetus to find an outlet in music. “I really wanted to give other people confidence to be themselves and I wanted them to feel like they’re not alone,” she said, adding later that she has known “many members of the LGBT community, and some very, very close friends, who have come close to taking their own lives because of the abuse they’ve had to deal with, and that is heartbreaking. . . . That’s why my message has always been about being yourself,” she said through tears, “and we really have to love each other and support each other.”
Taking a deep breath, trying to compose herself, her voice quavering, she told the audience, “Believe me, when I sing these words . . . I’m talking to myself as much as I’m talking to everyone else.” Sniffling and briefly unable to continue, she turned her head to the side and said quietly, “Good God.” The audience cheered.
Kesha alluded only obliquely to her recent legal travails, in which a court ruled she must continue to record albums for a label belonging to producer Dr. Luke, whom she has accused of sexual assault and emotional abuse, which he has denied. “I’m going through some personal things that have been really intense and hard lately,” she said, “and I just want to say thank you for any support I’ve received.”