Benjamin Glaze spoke to The New York Times about what he described as the “uncomfortable” kiss ― which happened to be his first kiss ever ― broadcast Sunday on the season premiere of the recently rebooted show. Glaze didn’t consent to the kiss and said he would’ve refused it if Perry had asked permission.
“I wanted to save it for my first relationship. I wanted it to be special,” Glaze, now 20, told the Times.
“Would I have done it if she said, ‘Would you kiss me?’ No, I would have said no,” he said. He added that he didn’t feel sexually harassed by Perry in the audition, which was recorded earlier.
“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,” Glaze said. “I wanted my first kiss to be special.”
The kiss occurred during an audition interview with Glaze in which he said he liked meeting girls at his job as a cashier in an electronics store.
“Have you kissed a girl and liked it?” “American Idol” judge and country singer Luke Bryan asked, referencing Perry’s famous song from 2008.
“No, I’ve never been in a relationship. I can’t kiss a girl without being in a relationship,” Glaze answered, as Perry’s eyes widened and she exclaimed, “Really?”
“Come here,” Perry beckoned repeatedly as the other judges ― Bryan and singer Lionel Richie ― egged them on. Bryan got out his phone to take pictures, while Glaze, expressing disbelief, walked over to Perry.
“What, on the cheek?” Glaze said, glancing back at the cameras before he kissed the singer on her cheek.
“You didn’t even make the ‘smush’ sound,” she said, directing Glaze to give her a second kiss on the cheek. When he moved in to kiss her, Perry quickly turned her head and kissed him on the lips. Glaze, shocked and smiling, fell down.
The judges cheered and high-fived.
“Did you get him?” Bryan asked Perry.
“Yeah I got him,” she answered, smiling.
“Katy! You didn’t,” Glaze shouted with a grin on his face when he returned to his place to start the audition. “Well, that’s a first.”
After the pre-taped segment aired on Sunday, Perry faced backlash from many people, who argued the kiss was inappropriate, especially in the wake of the Me Too movement. As the Times pointed out, some people wondered what the reaction would’ve been if the genders of the contestant and judge had been reversed.
Imagine if a 33 year-old male artist tricked a 19 year-old female auditioner into a kiss like Katy Perry just did with that teenage guy. Would we all think it was cute? #AmericanIdol
— Craig M. Tiede (@craigmtd) March 12, 2018
Ok, let’s be real for a minute: If Katy Perry was a man and that American Idol kiss happened to a woman, it would be sexual harassment, right? If we want people to listen to legit claims of harassment by women, we need to end the double standards. My 2 cents.
— Anna Baglione (@AnnaBaglione) March 12, 2018
Anyone else watching Idol feel like Katy Perry pressured that poor kid into letting her kiss him on the cheek and violated him by planting one on his lips? Would not have been okay for a male celebrity to do to a young girl. #americanidol#katyperry#mencanbesexuallyharassedtoo
— Heather Campbell (@Niblet81) March 12, 2018
The “American Idol” Twitter account shared this after the episode aired:
“This journey has just begun, Benjamin. A kiss for good luck from @katyperry and you’re on your way,” the tweet said.
— American Idol (@AmericanIdol) March 12, 2018
Glaze ended up not making the cut for the show, and Perry took some of the blame.
“I think you were a bit rushed and I think that’s because I sped up your BPM of the heartbeat,” the singer said.
For his part, Glaze told the Times he’s still waiting on his first kiss, because the one from Perry didn’t count.
“It was lip contact versus a romantic situation with someone you care about. That’s what a real first kiss is,” he said.
UPDATE: March 15 ― Glaze on Wednesday evening posted on Instagram a screenshot of his interview with The New York Times, and clarified some of his statements about the kiss.
“The way certain articles are worded is not done by me, and my true intentions are not accurately represented in every article you read about the situation,” he wrote. “I am not complaining about the kiss, I am very honored and thankful to have been apart of American Idol.”
He also repeated some of his comments in the Times article.
“I do not think I was sexually harassed by Katy Perry and I am thankful for the judges comments and critiques,” Glaze wrote. “I was uncomfortable in a sense of how I have never been kissed before and was not expecting it.”
- This article originally appeared on HuffPost.