Adam Lambert claims he was ‘threatened with a lawsuit’ after same-sex kiss at 2009 American Music Awards

Adam Lambert on a red carpet (left) and sharing a same-sex kiss with a member of his band on stage at the 2009 AMAs

American Idol star Adam Lambert has revealed how a gay kiss on stage nearly saw him slapped with a lawsuit.

Lambert delivered a performance of his single “For Your Entertainment” at the 2009 American Music Awards (AMA), complete with men on leashes, pole-dancing and a gay kiss between the singer and a member of his band.

At the time, controversial conservative group the Parents Television and Media Council called on the public to complain to the Federal Communications Commission, with more than 1,500 people actually doing so.

Speaking at the 2023 Creative Coalition Spotlight Initiative Gala earlier this week (21 January), Lambert said that it wasn’t just right-wing ‘campaigners’ who were left furious by his performance.

“I did the kind of performance I’d seen since I was a teenager. I was like, I want to be sexy and have dancers on stage, and I did a couple of suggestive moves with some of my dancers and an impromptu kiss with my bass player,” he said.

Explaining that the kiss immediately landed him in hot water, Lambert continued: “The network was like, ‘How dare you?’ They banned me for a while. They threatened me with a lawsuit. I was like, ‘Oh, OK, that’s where we’re at.’”

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Adam Lambert kisses a member of his band at the American Music Awards in 2009.
The kiss landed Adam Lambert in hot, hot water. (Getty/Kevork Djansezian)

The singer explained that the experience left him feeling inspired to “effect change” by being “as gay as I f**king can be, and be flamboyant and be wild,” adding: “If it gets me into trouble, it gets me in trouble, but I’m not going to back down from it.”

Lambert’s speech has sparked a conversation about how the star paved the way for today’s generation of LGBTQ+ artists – something which he receives barely any recognition for.

“This man risked his career on live TV and broke ground for so many artists to be themselves today. He doesn’t get enough credit,” one person wrote.

“He doesn’t get enough credit for what he has done for gay artists. He changed the music industry for the better,” another agreed.

“WILD that this was 2009. Queer people have been on TV for decades by then. Change is so slow, I really have to take a step back and remind myself of what we have accomplished in this world sometimes,” said a third person.

While there is still a conversation to be had about the questionable queer representation on screen today, it’s undeniable that we are in a different world in 2022 compared to 2009 – and we have a lot to thank trailblazers like Adam Lambert for.

Even today, Lambert is out there fighting to give queer people the right to retell their own stories.

After rumours surfaced about straight actor Theo James playing George Michael in a biopic, Lambert suggested that the role of such a gay icon should perhaps be played by someone who is, you know, gay.

Speaking to Variety, Lambert said: “I by no means think gay characters should only be played by gay actors. I think that would be ridiculous.

“I just think, as a queer person, so many doors have been closed to us for so long, it’s a big step forward that these stories are at least now being told, but I hope that in the future you would also see an out actor be able to tackle a leading role,” he added.

“You haven’t really seen that very often.”

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