Adam Lambert's guy-on-guy kiss during his performance of "For Your Entertainment" at Sunday night's American Music Awards followed in the footsteps of the famous Britney Spears-Madonna kiss at the 2003 Video Music Awards.
But after Lambert kissed his male keyboard player, Tommy Ratliff, and pushed a male dancer's face up to his crotch, the network removed those controversial moments before airing the show's West Coast feed.
"If it's edited, that's discrimination," Lambert told "Access Hollywood" before he knew his performance would be tailored to be more conservative.
"There is a little bit of discrimination going in this country," he told the celebrity news outlet. "There's a big double standard: Female pop artists have been doing things provocative like that for years, and the fact that I'm a male, and I'll be edited and discriminated against could be a problem."
The lip-lock between Spears and Madonna helped lay the foundation for Katy Perry to find a hit song in last year's "I Kissed a Girl," and Lady GaGa to speak out about being bisexual without much backlash. But, as Lambert points out, Americans may be less comfortable with expressions of same-sex physicality among men.
Lambert's point goes beyond social comfort levels with homosexuality, as well. After all, the spiky black hair and "guyliner" look that he and plenty of his peers in pop music have been sporting for years derives from the punk aesthetic created back in the 1970s by bands like the New York Dolls, who dressed in women's clothes as a way to shock their audiences.
One main difference, of course, is that while the Dolls' style influenced rockers to come, they were rarely seen performing on network television.
"Shock is fun," Lambert said, citing more examples of historic rock 'n' roll androgyny like Alice Cooper and David Bowie. "You had artists that liked to push the envelope and that's what made them so fresh. Prince, for example, wore a--less chaps one year ... I think that surprise is part of entertainment. I think that it keeps people watching, it's fun, it makes you laugh and it should be that way. And if it made you uncomfortable, maybe I'm not for you."
Lambert, who placed second on the last season of "American Idol," acknowledged he was gay in the pages of his cover issue of Rolling Stone magazine shortly after the show ended.
His major-label debut album, "For Your Entertainment" hits stores Nov. 24.
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