"Excessive" Behavior or Homophobia? L Word Star, Southwest Trade Blows Over Booting

leishahaley.jpg
Leisha Hailey
If you didn't know who Leisha Hailey was this morning, you probably will by the end of the day. She's the latest celebrity taking to Twitter to call out Love Field-based Southwest Airlines, which removed her from a plane today -- not because she's considered a heavy-duty "safety risk" like Kevin Smith, for instance, but because she was kissing her girlfriend. At least, that's Hailey's side of the story.

The L Word star and Uh Huh Her member says on the Twitter that a flight attendant booted her because "it was a 'family' airline and kissing was not ok." Which was just the beginning. Hailey has since followed up by saying, among other things, that "Hate is not a family value" and "Since when is showing affection towards someone you love illegal?" and "I want to know what Southwest Airlines considers as 'family.'" She's calling for a boycott of Southwest, and sounds like she got the whole thing on video.

Since media accounts don't have Southwest's side of the story, I went looking for a response from the carrier and found this on its press-release home page. It doesn't mention Hailey by name, only a flight number and the insistence that this had nothing to do with, ya know, gender:
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.

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65 comments
Perry Moore
Perry Moore

If you prefer a particular cut of meat to another, it's a preference. A preference is a preference, whether one argues that it is the result of genetics or the position of the moon.

Dismounted passenger
Dismounted passenger

Oh, oh, oh, pick ME!

"After the incident unfolded at 32,000 feet, Ms. Hailey and companion were in high dudgeon."

kitten
kitten

Via their publicist: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 it’s 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.

TheGoToGayGuy
TheGoToGayGuy

Something is VERY fishy about this story!  I know FIRST HAND that Southwest Airlines is NOT homophobic.  I worked there for 20 years as a flight attendant and the definitely got all the kinks worked out on that subject.  SWA gets a 100% from the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) in how they deal with gay and lesbian issues.  Don't jump to a conclusion yet!  Something happened...She was not kicked off for simply kissing her girlfriend.  Something ELSE happened, I'll bet on that!

Chris Danger
Chris Danger

Gay, Straight,inter-species...it doesnt matter in this case,Its Southwest. they're same airline who kicked off a chick in a short skirt and kevin smith for having a large ass in the same year. They're a picky airline and the only thing that'll make them change their ways is if people quit flying them. Remember folks, Southwest is the Wal-Mart of airlines, they're going to attract the hillbilly right wing white trash on all their routes. Its why I fly JetBlue and Virgin America, as they're more tolerant and have more diversity in their company structures..

Coleman
Coleman

Why can't "celebrities" (this woman most people have never heard of and Z-Grade Kevin Smith aren't what one would call blockbuster moneymakers) fly cheapish too? They're just normal people.

ObserverFan
ObserverFan

I read a report that she had the presence of mind to record the incident. I smell a lawsuit.

Recent SW Passenger
Recent SW Passenger

As a lesbian who flew on SW yesterday with her girlfriend, we got no weird looks or anything when we sat next to each other on the plan with my head on her shoulder (trying to sleep). Did I give her a kiss, yes - just like any "normal" couple would do.  Did we hold hands - yes. I've never felt discriminated against on SW. I think it all comes back to acting appropriately - regardless of sexual orientation.

Montemalone
Montemalone

Does this mean no more blowjobs in business class?

IttyBitty Wussy
IttyBitty Wussy

Did she really refer to the flight attendant as a "stewardess"?  A bit hypocritical to complain about SWA's homophobic behavior by going down the not-politically-correct road herself.  I cannot say whether SWA's actions were correct or not, but that's not the way to fight against them...

Josh's broken records
Josh's broken records

Shoot fire, I wouldn't of complained at all..I would've begged for the middle seat and they could of pawed at each other while leaning across me....I would give them 5-6 hours to quit it.

MikeB
MikeB

A few years ago I gave a male friend a kiss on the lips as a greeting.   Honestly, just a peck - we were friends / not boyfriends. We were at a gym on McKinney (since closed/renamed).  After working out for a couple minutes, one of the staff came up and told us that we had violated the rule against public display of affection.  Honestly, for a couple moments, I was thinking is someone pulling a prank or joking.  I had just reflexively given him a quick kiss. But as it dawned on me that this was really happening, I got embarrassed and then mad.   An affectionate peck between two men offended someone and we had been reported to the staff.  I confronted the employee afterwards, and he was claiming he was just following orders from the manager who allegedly had left.  There was no such thing as a PDA policy.  I quit the gym, and got a refund.  Excessive gay affection to many is often very little affection at all.     

Chris Danger
Chris Danger

Its why I quit flying SWA awhile back. Most of the flight crew are usually over the age of 45 and church-going when off shift. Thank christ I can fly on Virgin America, where I can make out w/ my wife and noone will care ;)

MrBags
MrBags

Homosexuality on a SWA flight? Well I will never eat my flight attendants nuts again!

MattL1
MattL1

I think some people are seriously overestimating how much money little-known actors actually have.  I'm not sure the "she's rich and only flying Southwest to get kicked off for publicity" argument holds much water.

Usually with things like this, the real story lies somewhere in the middle.  The complaining passengers, I'm guessing, gave this couple less leeway than they would a straight couple.  The flight attendants most likely tried to resolve the complaints as quickly and easily as possible, as any service employee is wont to do, and may not have chosen their words as carefully as they should have.  Ms. Hailey, possibly perceiving more intolerance than was actually intended, may have overreacted a bit and hastened her ejection.  

In short, everyone involved had an "I'm not putting up with this shit anymore" moment.  That never ends well.

Cwhyrick
Cwhyrick

I am against most acts of public display of affection. I find it offensive whether it is a man and a woman, two women, or two men making out. A peck is one thing but making out in public is just gross. Keep your acts of affection to yourself, no one really wants to see it. This has nothing to do with gay or family. It has everything to do with respect for yourself and others. Just my two...

Rptkid
Rptkid

My question is: What was she doing on the cattle-call in the first place? I'm sure she can afford first-class on a better airline.

GEEZ
GEEZ

Geez. This has publicity stunt written all over it!

Michael C
Michael C

I'm no fan of PDA from anyone, but I can guaran-damn-t you that Southwest has probably never taken a straight couple off a plane for excessive PDA, or probably never even asked a straight couple to tone it down.

Jack E. Jett
Jack E. Jett

When I go to the fair this year I am going to complain about all the heterosexual couple I see that make me uncomfortable with their PDA's. 

Jack E. Jett
Jack E. Jett

This chick is about as cute as the come.  I can only imagine that it must have been some old Xtian biddy who is vaginaless that complained.  Allow me a tad of shameless self promtion by linking my (and Sandra Bernhard's) interview with the lady Leisha....which has had over 500,000 views.......not bragging......just saying....okay bragging. BTW....She use to be that cute little Yoplait girl.http://www.youtube.com/watch?v...

kitten
kitten

They weren't "making out" . since when does a kiss equate making out? She gave her girlfriend a peck on the lips..way to put the unnecessary salacious spin on the story. It is unwarranted. This airline has a history of discrimination. 

I wonder what they will do when service members and their spouses/partners start traveling openly. If they will be booted off as well for holding hands or giving their loved on a peck on the lips or cheek. Time for the world to grow up.

Ed D.
Ed D.

Clearly, we need video (either authentic or a dramatic re-creation) of this kiss so that each of us may judge whether the kiss was modest or excessive. Also, is "verbally upset" a euphemism for "we loudly argued with the flight attendant instead of quietly ending a kiss that apparently lasted long enough to have somebody notice, become upset, walk over, and interrupt us"? Please include that in the video.

Chris Danger
Chris Danger

I know Southwest is a very GLBT friendly company in the corporate backoffice, where the main challenge lie is w/ both their gate agents and flight staff, who appear to have limited experience in common sense manners like this. Case In point: A friend of mine earlier this year  flew from LAX to AUS and was barked at by a flight attendant over his iPod Touch, stating the device was a phone..he had to tell her it wasnt and even showed the attendant it lacked phone service, yet the old broad didnt understand that. I've said this to people over the years concering air travel, which carries over to multiple facets in life, is thats when you spend less, you get less, be it in service and attitude.

Phelps
Phelps

Ah, yes, the Jersey Shore and Target airlines instead.

Guest
Guest

What could she have recorded?  Certainly not the "kiss", given that she claims it wasn't any big deal.  She likely recorded the flight attendants asking her to leave, which really won't show us anything about whether she should or should not have been asked to leave. 

Stacy
Stacy

You forgot the most important thing...point of departing and destination ..Try that on a plane in a small city like Odessa, Little Rock, Lubbock, Knoxville I know for a fact those looks you didin't get will suddenly surface..

Jack E. Jett
Jack E. Jett

It also means no handjobs for the pilots in exchange for a few extra salty nuts.

Cmint
Cmint

what about your wife?  bada bam...  just kidding.

dt&ot
dt&ot

Exactly what I was thinking.  Just like the Green Day dude getting kicked off for not pulling up his pants. Getting kicked off Virgin Atlantic NY-Heathrow: Pricless.  Getting kicked off SWAirlines LAX to Oakland: Well at least it is better than getting kicked off a grayhound bus. 

Also, SWair has always decided what they think is best and standing by it.  If I was approached by a Flght Attndnt about how I was dressed or kissing or talking to loud while drunk, I would probably say sorry, roll my eyes and stop doing whatever it was so I didn't hold up the flight. 

Homophobic Christian Haters ganged up on the poor girl and persecuted her?  You wish...

Dismounted passenger
Dismounted passenger

Glad you used the qualifier "probably" - here's a link to a 2006 incident on Southwest involving an amorous, hetero couple. This showed up at the top of the second page of a cursory Google search. I'm sure there are more.http://www.cbsnews.com/stories...

pak152
pak152

and if they did the heterosexual couple probably were so shamed by the attention that they realized that complaining wouldn't do any good

plfarmer
plfarmer

Go to the fair the first day. It's like a melissa etheridge concert.

pak152
pak152

except that if there is some heavy spit swapping going on that old Christian biddy you mentioned earlier may beat you to the complaint window

pak152
pak152

whose to say it wasn't a homophobic Jew or Muslim? why think it was a christianist?  but keep it on the up and up jej

El Rey
El Rey

Hand-holding and PDAs of any sort by our men and women in uniform are not allowed. The only exception is when they are deploying or returning from a deployment.

Robert Wilonsky
Robert Wilonsky

You're absolutely correct. I have edited the piece accordingly.

Dismounted passenger
Dismounted passenger

Now here is someone who seems very sure what happened. If you're not linking video, you weren't there, either.

kitten
kitten

It doesn't take much for LGBT couples to set off a firestorm. That can be seen in the comments section of every article about this story. Holding hands can cause just as much toxic hate. I have know people beaten to a pulp for less than these two have done here. I myself have lost jobs just for being who i am. So sorry.. i fully believe it was just a small peck and someone overreacted. Personally I would probably have reacted the same way as they did. I would be furious if i was being accused of a wrong doing and had done nothing wrong. I assume you would as well.

Dismounted passenger
Dismounted passenger

The "old broad" and the iPod story - this explains the whole story, does it? "Limited experience in common sense manners" by customer-facing staff? C'mon, Chris, I suspect I've got more miles than you do based on a longer lifetime of travel, and I can probably match or top every stupid stewardess/gate agent story and feed the bashing blaze, but you must admit that's not the point at all.

The point is that NObody knows how engaged this pair of passengers were, press releases and devoted Kitten fans notwithstanding, On the other hand, we all have access to proof of SWA's gay-friendly culture, from a decade+ of domestic partner benefits (for a Dallas-based company), to the GLAAD connection, to first-hand testimony below from a gay, 20-year veteran.

Dismounted passenger
Dismounted passenger

Good point, Stacy. But this event took place in the air from major market Baltimore to major market St. Louis. No, I'm not prepared to cite gay/straight population comparisons for those cities, nor delve into the unquantifiable attitudes in those cities, but neither one is Lubbock (fortunately-remember the woman who was wanded and ordered to remove her nipple piercings?)

Anyway, an incident of such consequence IN THE AIR implies more than a good-luck peck or, as another lesbian put it, dozing on the other's shoulder while holding hands.

Jack E. Jett
Jack E. Jett

Jon....I am too old to be a whore......however, I will totally cop to being an aging slut.

Jack E. Jett
Jack E. Jett

valid point.  .....even better what if it were me, a jew and a muslim and my pit bull karma.

now that's hot....

kitten
kitten

UhHuhHerMusic U H H @SouthwestAir I didn't realize a small peck on the lips is regarded as excessive and never once did your stewardess mention other passengers

kitten
kitten

I like how you are so ready to believe the company and not the person's involved..and i did get the location right. As it says in HER STATEMENT "We were on the airplane less than 5 minutes when all was said and done" MEANING THEY NEVER LEFT THE GROUND.

Look I am not defending the anger.. I even said.. I probably would have reacted the same way. I understand them being kicked off for being angry. I am upset that it even got to that point. (which is what you missed in my statement)

Dismounted pax (over and out)
Dismounted pax (over and out)

Actually, Kitten, you've missed several points. 1. You initially posted, "This is a company that is known for discrimination." NOT SO - there's the long-standing, HR benefits for domestic partners; there's the GLAAD connection (only such airline); there was the comment below from a very recent lesbian passenger about her non-experience with her partner; and there was the personal testimony from a very out, 20-year veteran.

2. SWA has indeed told hetero couples to cool their ardor. Since neither you nor I was on that flight, and since you've already gotten the location wrong (IN THE AIR, not at the gate), then I suspect your source for "peck on the mouth" is equally mistaken. However, the depth of oral engagement doesn't matter at this point, because...

3. Today SWA announced the results of their executive investigation (before you scoff, see my No. 1 above), and said that the couple were kicked off NOT FOR THE KISS, but for their profanity. That was based on complaints from multiple passengers, including - yes - a family with kids. I guarantee you that this high-profile case was investigated, documented, and interviewed, using the most strict legal protocol because of the legal implications.

4. No. 3 is the reason why we will never see or hear the threatened video or audio that might exonerate the couple. Having traveled as much as I have, I see in my mind's eye that your problematic prima donnas pyramided their profanity in an enclosed, cramped space. Were the cabin crew less than Mother Teresa by the end? Probably so, but that cabin is subject to very strict FAA (federal) rules, and the flight crew zealously rule their kingdom, as more than one person has pointed out.

(BTW, anyone else remember the four good ol' boys flying back on SWA from a Cowboys game to Odessa a few years ago? Drunk, crude, loud, bullying the flight attendants...The plane landed unexpectedly at Wichita Falls, where the GOBs were met by much larger federal marshals, and ended up serving four-year Federal sentences for interfering with a flight crew.)

Anyway, Kitten, why did I come back for this last post - why do I care? Because I'm just the sort of late-middle-aged, white, helplessly heterosexual, SWA-stock-owning and SWA-lifetime-flying male who would fire a broadside of complaints if this were indeed discrimination against anyone but jerks. Remember the "Girl Who Cried Wolf"? I'm the sort of villager who's ready to defend anyone - including YOU - against modern wolves of discrimination and unfairness.

Stick to your guns, Kitten, but take your focus off the sights frequently to get the whole picture. Oh, and have a pleasant flight.

rachum
rachum

So the thing is...this couple was not kicked off the plane for a kiss...they were kicked of the plane for arguing. So there really isn't a newsworthy story here. Happened to me onetime I had a legitimate meltdown over a bag issue, and no press was notified. Look, I love LGBT's and agree that the flight attendant's comments were rude and insulting, but EVERYONE gets slighted at some point in time (some more than others)...not just people who are being discriminated against b/c of their sexual orientation. For example, if I were to board a plane with any or all of my kids, I would have to tell them to act like adults (despite this being a huge, stifling, and uncomfortable endeavor for them.) **Please note that I'm in no way likening the above event as "childish" behavior, just using an example. It truly is not fair to ask a child to be something he is not, but for the comfort of OTHERS on the flight, it would probably be a good idea if the kids refrained from screaming, hanging upside down, playing with the oxygen masks yada yada ya...and I'm sure it'd be a much more difficult feat for a child to abstain from acting his normal way, than it would for someone to not be able to kiss his partner on the plane...fair or not. Flying sucks and anyone who flies has to deal with unfairness, rudeness and the spoken & unspoken (many of which are unfair) rules of etiquette every time...or things will get ugly. Obviously.

kitten
kitten

But you are all missing the point..What started the argument. It was being told that a simple kiss was apparently offensive! It really does come down to a homophobic feeling.

What really continues to blow my mind about this story is how baffled people are that this was over a simple kiss. "It has to be more than that...there is no way it was just a simple kiss to set this off...They must have been making out." It couldn't possibly be that someone blew a simple peck/ kiss by a lesbian couple out of proportion as they walked past them while boarding the plane, because to them the very existence of the LGBT couple disturbs them to the core. Oh.. because those kind of easily offended people don't exist. It must be the lesbian couples fault.  I think the reason so many of you can't believe this story is you don't want to believe this story. You don't want to believe that in 2011 this still happens and people can be so petty and sensitive...Well it does and they are.

I have been discussing this story for the last few days with friends and loved ones and I have to say that you are all hypocrites if you don't think you would fly off the handle if a flight attendant, within five minutes of boarding a plane, came to you and said "I am sorry but we are a "family" airline" and implied to you that you were being inappropriate. Knowing full well that you HAVE DONE NOTHING WRONG! You just sat down...probably had just got your carry on under the seat and fastened your seat belt. I am sorry..i am not a confrontational person but I would feel highly offended and would be defensive of myself and my spouse and/or children. 

If in the 30 seconds to a minute of your life it takes to walk past a LGBT couple sharing a quick moment of affection, something that heterosexual couples do everyday, is enough to make you unravel from the inside, ruin your day to the point you have to tell a flight attendant, that is YOUR problem, not theirs. YOU need to check YOURSELF, they have NOT DONE ANYTHING to you.

Mike
Mike

I expect they were not booted for the kiss.  They were booted for going postal when told about the kiss.  If they would have said "OK, whatever", no action would have occurred. 

Raise your voice or argue with a flight attendant and you will get booted, no discussion, no appeal.  The plane is full of closet jerks ready to justify why they are special.  You are cattle.  Sit in your pen until released.  The flying environment is bad enough without having to listen to a tirade about something petty.

Ed D.
Ed D.

I don't consider a kiss between partners to be "wrong doing" nor would I have "reacted the same way" if somebody asked me to be more considerate of my fellow passengers. I surely would not have become "verbally upset" at the flight attendant to the point I was asked to leave the aircraft. Save the drama for television.

Dismounted passenger
Dismounted passenger

Perhaps it's me - just scanned the website and the Twitter feed, but didn't see any video besides music. Bear in mind, I made a prediction, and I'm willing to admit I'm wrong - but I haven't seen any evidence one way or the other. Repeating the original Tweet isn't evidence, no matter how fervently you believe.

SWA has received more publicity about booting large passengers than any other carrier for that particular reason. Surely if gay/L-word PDA had been a prior cause for booting, then we would have links to back up "This airline has a history of discrimination," as Robt posted regarding large passengers.

Here's evidence against discimination: SWA has offered a domestic partner program for over ten years now, as per the links below.http://www.slideshare.net/joel...

http://www.unmarriedamerica.or...

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