Donal Cervin was scared. He’d kept a secret from his Christian parents for four years, and he was getting ready to tell them through a letter.

Donal was in love with Katy Perry—her music, her messages, and how much he had in common with her. But her music was a little taboo compared to the values of his strict Christian upbringing. While growing up, he was surrounded by Christian and gospel music with the exception of a few other artists his family considered to be “wholesome.”

He was 11 when his older brother introduced him to Perry. His brother could listen to more secular music without his parents knowing because he had a radio in his room.

At 15, Donal was tired of hiding this from his parents. He wanted them to accept the music he felt so passionate about. So he wrote a letter about how much Perry meant to him,  explaining that he’d kept it a secret for so long out of the fear that they wouldn’t let him listen to her anymore. But he didn’t like keeping secrets from them.

As he slid the letter under his parents’ bedroom door, he worried what they might think of Perry’s songs, such as “I Kissed a Girl,” “Hot and Cold,” and “Ur So Gay”—which he never played around them.

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