Katy Perry is facing backlash for kissing 19-year-old Benjamin Glaze moments before his audition on American Idol.
Benjamin had reportedly never been kissed before this incident on the show, and said the whole experience made him uncomfortable.
He said he had deliberately been putting off his first kiss as a rite of passage, when he spoke to The New York Times.
— Molly Fletcher (@molfizzle) March 12, 2018
He told The New York Times:
I was a tad bit uncomfortable. I wanted to save it for my first relationship. I wanted it to be special.
Would I have done it if she said, ‘Would you kiss me?’ No, I would have said no. I know a lot of guys would be like, ‘Heck yeah!’ But for me, I was raised in a conservative family and I was uncomfortable immediately.
I wanted my first kiss to be special.
What if he didn't want that kiss for religious reasons? What if Luke Bryan forced kissed a 19yr girl, would that be ok? Creepy for Perry to do that.
— Tommy Mergola (@tommymas1) March 13, 2018
The incident occurred as part of the two-night season opener for the new series of American Idol on ABC – which was previously homed on Fox.
The show had a panel of judges including Katy Perry, Lionel Richie and Luke Bryan, and is hosted by Ryan Seacrest.
In the segment which featured on the episode, Mr Glaze could be seen waiting around for his chance to audition, visibly nervous.
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He said he enjoyed his work as a cashier because it let him meet ‘cute girls’, when Mr Bryan asked him whether he had ‘kissed a girl and liked it?’
Mr Glaze admitted that he hadn’t kissed anyone, saying ‘I have never been in a relationship and I can’t kiss a girl without being in a relationship.’
At that point, Katy Perry stood up and gestured for Mr Glaze to come to the judges table and motioned her face toward him.
This was not okay. He was only comfortable with a kiss on the cheek. She ignored his boundaries. Guys deserve the same respect as girls. Public apology seems in order here.
— Allison Swearengen (@_aswearen) March 12, 2018
He stressed that he wanted to kiss her only on the cheek, and touched his face to her cheek. Ms. Perry then complained that he hadn’t made the ‘smush sound’ and wanted another kiss.
As he moved for a second kiss, Ms. Perry turned her face toward him and kissed him on the lips.
He yelled and fell backward, exclaiming ‘You didn’t!’ at which point Ms. Perry raised her arms in victory.
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Mr. Glaze requested a drink of water, and completed his audition which was rejected by the judges.
The audition actually took place last October, which has allowed Mr. Glaze to gain some perspective on the incident.
He acknowledges that the kiss allowed for more screen time, and subsequently more attention on his music.
Would it have been sweet if Luke Bryan had done it to one of the teenage girl contestants? Kissed her without warning or her consent? This attitude, BTW, is why teenage males are almost never believed when they report sexual assault or abuse, and convictions are very, very rare.
— travelblues (@cruseam) March 12, 2018
So in that way, I’m glad she did it because it’s a great opportunity to get my music out.
When he got home, he worked through his emotions with his friends, who were very supportive.
They agreed that the kiss didn’t really count, because it was merely lip contact without a romantic situation with someone he cared about.
This is not okay. Consent matters @katyperry. You're acting like an asshole.
— Heather (@MissHC) March 12, 2018
He said he does not feel that he was sexually harassed, but viewers on Twitter have been quick to label the incident as a ‘forced sexual act’.
Representatives for ABC and Katy Perry didn’t respond to requests from The New York Times for comment.