Ian Benardo in his American Idol “audition”.

A gay man who auditioned for American Idol is suing the show to the tune of $300 million saying that producers “exploited” his sexual orientation.

Ian Benardo, who was rejected in an apparent audition for the 2007 edition of the talent show after performing Laura Branigan’s Gloria, has filed a workplace discrimination suit in New York.

According to Benardo, he was actually paid to audition and to appear in a subsequent Idol finale show where producers “exploited my non-conforming appearance and sexual orientation. They did this by directing me to ‘gay it up’ in any appearance I made on camera,” reports the Journal-Constitution.

“Although characterized as an ‘audition’ to the public at large, in fact, I was and was paid as an employee of respondents for each appearance,” said Benardo.

He also claimed that the Idol set “was permeated with discriminatory intimidation, ridicule, insults and hostile and offensive comments that were so severe as to alter my working conditions”.

American Idol has refused to comment.

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