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Leisha Hailey and girlfriend kicked off Southwest airlines for kissing

Don't mess with journalist Alice Pieszecki...I mean actress and musician Leisha Hailey

I may get disappointed, but I’m never terribly shocked, when discrimination happens. What is a little more surprising is when it happens, very publicly, to the famous, influential, beautiful. But it did happen when actress and musician Leisha Hailey was kicked off a Southwest airlines flight for kissing her girlfriend then raising a fuss when asked to stop. Hailey took to Twitter to voice her outrage:

I have been discriminated against by Southwest Air. Flt. attendant said that it was a ‘family’ airline and kissing was not ok…This is an outrage. I demand a public apology by @SouthwestAir and a refund. Hate is not a family value. I will never fly this airline….We were escorted off the plane for getting upset about the issue. @SouthwestAir endorses homophobic employees. No one made her accountable. Since when is showing affection towards someone you love illegal? I want to know what Southwest Airlines considers as ‘family’.

I think Autostraddle says it best, “…instead of taking photos with their cell-phones and uploading them to The L Word Wiki like any reasonable person would’ve done, Southwest reacted by kicking them off the airplane!”

And the back and forth bickering continues with Southwest Airlines issuing a statement and Hailey firing back. (Autostraddle has a good rundown of the banter, including support from fellow L Word cast member Kate Moennig and tourmate Adam Lambert.)

Southwest Airlines just released the following statement:

Statement Regarding Southwest Airlines Customers Removed from Flight 2274

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 expectations.

Uh Huh Her (Hailey’s current band) responded, via twitter:

“I didn’t realize a small peck on the lips is regarded as excessive and never once did your stewardess mention other passengers.”

It seems like a lot of drama going down online right now, and though that’s always difficult to parse it is worth noting that this is the same airline that Billie Joe Armstrong was booted off for wearing saggy pants and Kevin Smith for being allegedly too large for one seat.

2 comments to Leisha Hailey and girlfriend kicked off Southwest airlines for kissing

  • And more in a statement from Hailey:

    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.

  • […] week we talk about Leisha Hailey‘s row with Southwest airlines, the upcoming films at the Portland Lesbian and Gay Film Festival, historical lesbian drama, […]