Just a kiss

Southwest Airlines has a likely public relations nightmare on its hands after it booted a lesbian couple for kissing on the plane.

Actress Leisha Hailey, best known for playing Alice Pieszecki in the now defunct Showtime lesbian life drama “The L Word,” says she and her partner, Camila Grey, were thrown off a Southwest Airlines flight for kissing.


“We have always promoted tolerance, openness and equality both as a band and as individuals. We both come from loving homes where our parents not only love and accept us, but are also proud of who we are. We believe everyone has the right to live openly in this society as equals.

In no way were our actions on Southwest Airlines excessive, inappropriate or vulgar. We want to make it clear we were not making out or creating any kind of spectacle of ourselves, it was one, modest kiss. We are responsible adult women who walk through the world with dignity. We were simply being affectionate like any normal couple. We were on the airplane less than 5 minutes when all was said and done.

We take full responsibility for getting verbally upset with the flight attendant after being told it was a “family airline.” We were never told the reason the flight attendant approached us, we were only scolded that we “needed to be aware that Southwest Airlines was a family oriented airline.”

No matter how quietly homophobia is whispered, it doesn’t make it any less loud. You can’t whisper hate. We ask this airline to teach their employees to not discriminate against any couple, ever, regardless of their own beliefs. We want to live in a society where if your loved one leans over to give you an innocent kiss on an airplane it’s not labeled as “excessive or not family oriented” by a corporation and its employees. We find it very disturbing that the same airline who lauds itself as being LGBT friendly has twisted an upsetting incident that happened into our behavior being “too excessive.” The above is not an apology and we are in the process of filing a formal complaint with the airline. We hope that when all is said and done a greater tolerance without prejudice will evolve.”

The airline, which promotes itself as “the official airline of the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD), the Gay-Straight Alliance Network (GSA), and the National Gay & Lesbian Chamber of Commerce, says it wasn’t the gay kiss that caused the problem, it was just the kiss.


Initial reports indicate that we received several passenger complaints characterizing the behavior as excessive. Our crew, responsible for the comfort of all Customers on board, approached the passengers based solely on behavior and not gender. The conversation escalated to a level that was better resolved on the ground, as opposed to in flight. We regret any circumstance where a passenger does not have a positive experience on Southwest and we are ready to work directly with the passengers involved to offer our heartfelt apologies for falling short of their expectation.

But a quick check of the Southwest Airlines Facebook page suggests if it was about the “gay thing,” that’s OK with many of the customers:

southwest_gay.jpg

  • Heather

    I’d rather my daughter see a same-sex couple kiss than have her see them escorted off a plane for kissing. And I know that my husband agrees.

  • http://portofdangerbay.com/ Jack M. Boardman

    This is pathetic…it was no big deal until Southwest made it one. And the comments show how far we have yet to go.

  • Jim Shapiro

    A well-written letter by Hailey and Grey.

    The fact that southwest bills itself as the official airlines of GLAAD et al AND “family friendly” at the same time is just begging for controversy.

    (Yeah, yeah there are all different types of families, but the general connotations of “family friendly” for people who are looking for that probably don’t include two moms or two dads or two still not sures)

    Perhaps an “excessive” kiss is in the eye of the beholder, unless southwest wants to use a timer. Or a humidity gauge. Or something like that. What the hell do I know about any of that stuff anyway?!?

  • Shannon

    Maybe the passengers were freaked out because the two women look EXACTLY alike. Good lord, seriously, what is this world coming to?

  • JB

    I notice all the comments were from women. Not sure if the sample actually reflects the majority of respondents or not but I found it interesting.

    I agree with Jack that the comments show how far we have to go. I’m willing to bet that if it were a newlywed straight couple embarking on their honeymoon that a) the flight crew would not have received complaints b) if the same chain of events occurred the comments would have been negative towards Southwest in the line of “just let the happy couple enjoy their trip together.”

  • k holey

    //Maybe the passengers were freaked out because the two women look EXACTLY alike. Good lord, seriously, what is this world coming to?

    Well, there.

    They weren’t thrown off for kissing but for being narcisistic.

  • Roy

    Southwest’s stance reminds me of when Target “endorsed” Tom Emmer for Governor while being one of the largest sponsors of Twin Cities Pride. Sounds pretty hypocritical to me.

  • Jim Shapiro

    “Maybe the passengers were freaked out because the two women look EXACTLY alike.”

    I looked up images of the women together and not only do they look alike, but they’re both snarling in almost every photo.

    Maybe southwest has a No Snarling and Kissing At The Same Time policy.

    Good.

  • Jim Shapiro

    “They weren’t thrown off for kissing but for being narcisistic.”

    I once lived in a neighborhood were there was a family with two moms, both of whom were named Penelope ( name changed to protect the wonderful women).

    Scouts honor.

  • MikeK

    So, the next time I give my children a reassuring kiss that the plane is not going to crash on take-off because of some christian extremist, does that make me a pedophile?

  • bj

    Penelope Forever!

  • John P II

    Someone please explain which of the Facebook comments is homophobic because I don’t see one.

  • mike

    “I once lived in a neighborhood were there was a family with two moms, both of whom were named Penelope ( name changed to protect the wonderful women).

    Scouts honor.

    Posted by Jim Shapiro ”

    Scouts honor, huh?

    Imagine that, a couple a kids having two Penny’s for moms. I guess that family got their two cents worth. : )

  • Bob Collins

    Look for the code words.

  • John P II

    If you think “family” is anti-gay then people like James Dobson have succeeded. I personally find words like “neutral” far more dangerous.

    Read this part again: “We were never told the reason the flight attendant approached us, we were only scolded that we “needed to be aware that Southwest Airlines was a family oriented airline.” ” They became “verbally upset” with the flight crew (that’s code for profanity btw.) Doesn’t take a genius to know that will get you kicked off an airline today. So will baggy pants. Save the outrage for something real.

    Paws up Collins!

  • Wendy Collins

    I’m adding this to my long list of reasons not to fly SWA, right behind the obnoxious, infantile, and sexist jokes of the cabin crew on the flight from Baltimore to Bradley last Saturday night. And don’t get me going on their cattle loading techniques. good story, bro.

  • MikeK

    What, exactly, is “a family airline?” One where a man and a woman and their children can fly without mommy and daddy having to explain why two women or two men might kiss, or why two people might get upset for being singled out and then use their “grown-up” words to express that frustration. There is a story here and the story is how the media and people use words to conceal their opinions. A “family (fill-in-blank)” means “we don’t need no stinkin'” gay people making us feel uncomfortable with our book of religious indoctrination.

  • Joanna

    Once, when I was a teenager, I was holding my mother’s hand affectionately in the supermarket. Someone yelled at us, calling us “lesbians.” (we look an awful lot alike, too!). It made me realize how hard it must be for same-sex couples to have to wonder, every single time they express affection for each other, if they are going to be verbally or physically harassed. To be subjected to scolding, and then thrown off the plane for expressing affection in public is hurtful, discriminatory, wrong, and a good reason for me to continue to boycott SWA. I feel badly for the GLBT employees of the company who have to work in a place where they know their employer supports this kind of double-standard. If the passengers are bigots, it’s not SWA’s job to reinforce their bigotry.

  • Bob Collins

    I know four pilots who fly for Southwest Airlines. Every one of them is gay. I imagine this is reverberating inside the company bigtime.

    By the way, I’m offended by people trying to jam cruise-ship trunks into the overhead bin. I didn’t realize it was so easy to get them tossed off — just complain they make me uncomfortable.

  • Mike S

    I always find it funny that everyone thinks they have the right to control how other people act or what they can say in every situation just because they tot around their children with young impressionable minds. Bringing your family out into the world means taking risks and seeing things that may not appeal to you.

    Personally, I wish one of the airlines would make an adult friendly airline. Not in a lewd or erotic sense, but one that doesn’t allow anyone under 18 to fly with them. No offence to parents, but families with young children are far more annoying/inconvenient than any two people pecking away or staring at each other with big doe eyes and lovey-dovey mush.

  • mike

    Bob Collins,

    There were no code words mentioned in my post. I was making a pun on the penny being short for penelope and the correlation of there being two moms ie 2 cents. That is all.

    As much as you shame people on your blog you surely behave in some jerkish ways yourself such as in your comment ‘look for the code words’

    no code words here, just a playful pun intended.

  • Bob Collins

    The code word response was for John P II’s and referenced the Facebook comments. It had nothing to do with you, Mike.

    I hope you come back and see this explanation. This is another example, though, of why people are asked to provide e-mail addresses — legitimate ones — when making a comment. If there’s any need to clarify or explain anything, it can be done effectively in an e-mail.

  • Jim Shapiro

    Bob – I too wondered about the “code word” reference, particularly after it came immediately following my use of the idiom “scout’s honor”, which I only meant and understood to mean “truth”. (I looked it up in a hip lingo dictionary and there is also a less innocent meaning.)

    But with a little time and distance, in context it became clear to me that you were referencing John P II’s comment.

    One of the risks of real time multi-channel communications I guess. :-)

  • John P II

    I appreciate the fact that Bob C. takes the time to both read and sometimes react to comments. That’s pretty rare these days. If he directs a response to a specific individual then the sense of communal sharing is lost (and admit it – we would come to expect it every time, which is impossible.)

    I’m confident he was not PUNishing you mike – stick around!