Discrimination | Leisha Hailey | News

'L Word' Actress Leisha Hailey Releases Statement on Ejection from Southwest Flight Over Kissing Girlfriend


Yesterday I posted about musician and L Word actress Leisha Haley being escorted off of Southwest Airlines for kissing her 'Uh Huh Her' bandmate and girlfriend Camila Grey. Hailey and Grey have now released a formal statement saying they were told Southwest was a "family airline" when they were escorted off for "one, modest kiss". They say they will be filing a formal complaint.

Uhh1 Hailey and Grey's statement:

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.

Southwest released this statement yesterday:

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.

UPDATE: Southwest released a new statement late today, following the release of Hailey's statement:

Additional reports from our Employees and Customers onboard flight 2274 during a stop in El Paso on Sunday now confirm profane language was being used loudly by two passengers.  At least one family who was offended by the loud profanity moved to another area of the cabin.  Although we have reports of what Customers characterize as an excessive public display of affection, ultimately their aggressive reaction led to their removal from the aircraft.  We do not tolerate discrimination against anyone for any reason.  In this situation, their removal was directly and solely related to the escalated conversation that developed onboard the aircraft.

Our tenets of inclusion and celebration of diversity among our Customers and Employees-including those in the LGBT communities-anchor our Culture of mutual respect and following the Golden Rule.   The more than 100 million people who fly Southwest each year reflect the great diversity of our country and our Company - and ALL are valued and welcome.  In fact, we've been recognized as a leader in diversity throughout our 40 years of service.

Our Customer Advocacy Team reached out to extend goodwill and a full refund for an experience that fell short of the passengers' expectation.

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  1. It's a cracker airline from a cracker state.

    What does one expect?

    Posted by: AllBeefPatty | Sep 27, 2011 3:31:50 PM

  2. Right on!

    Posted by: Mike | Sep 27, 2011 3:31:54 PM

  3. Great job ladies.
    Time for Southworst to do some serious employee/management training on serving ALL their customers.
    I hope Southworst can learn from their stupidity? Time will tell.

    Posted by: SFShawn | Sep 27, 2011 3:41:54 PM

  4. I think we are looking at something other than a peck on the cheek. Justy sayn'

    Posted by: asfasf | Sep 27, 2011 3:42:52 PM

  5. Pure conjecture, but what probably happened was some bigot was offended and complained to the flight crew. They flight crew instead of dealing with the bigoted passenger without thinking much about went to the ladies and requested that they curb their "behavior" whatever that means. They the ladies probably went a little ballistic (understandable) which caused the flight crew to need to remove them from the airplane. In hindsight (and in the heat of the moment it is hard to pre-plan these things, they should have simply ignored it and if they wanted to do a simply kiss, just repeat the behavior and ignore the ridiculous request. At that point if they were removed from the plane for a simple kiss that would be a whole other matter and a major problem for Southwest. Now, Southwest can hide behind "disruptive" behavior (as they appear to be doing in their statement).

    Posted by: Mike | Sep 27, 2011 3:43:16 PM

  6. One more thing, the way to "get back" at Southwest would be for gay couples to hold hands, hug and do simple (not makeout) kisses on all their flights. That would show everyone just how ridiculous this is...

    Posted by: Mike | Sep 27, 2011 3:44:56 PM

  7. sounds to me that these ladies - threw thier explanation WERE rational....and Id probably do the same thing they did.....well, Ill find out won't I - next time my HUSBAND (yes married in VT) together 12yrs....go on vacation....we shall see. We too are not shy about PDA within reason of course..like any other adult...a peck,a hug, and or a held hand...are ALWAYS Appropriate!

    Posted by: Gay American | Sep 27, 2011 3:47:20 PM

  8. Southwest has a solid record of support for LGBT causes and give thousands of dollars a year to support them. Below is their website dedicated to LGBT support.


    That said, I would like to think this is an issue with one specific flight attendant not handling the situation properly. However, I also recall the recent incident in June of this year where one of Southwests pilots unleashed an anti-gay tirade over the radio when he didn't realize he was broadcasting.


    This makes me believe that Southwest employees should, and probably will, all be required to take further training on diversity and LGBT relations. Two incidents like this in the matter of a few months is too much.

    Posted by: Ian | Sep 27, 2011 3:52:03 PM

  9. while I completely support the couple and think Southwest is way out of line, no matter how they reacted, I wish they had proof-read their statement.. the same goes for some of the comments above....

    I know I know, off topic, but when one wants to sound level-headed and smart, taking a closer look in their writing helps (specially since a day went by).... it's okay on twitter, but on official statements...

    Posted by: V-8 | Sep 27, 2011 3:52:18 PM

  10. So, who to believe. The couple with the detailed statement on what exactly occured regarding the circumstances surrounding their removal from the flight? Or Homophobia Airlines who released a vague statement not explaning whatsoever what "behavior" truly occured, and offering a non-apology apology as a means to save face.

    Looks like the answer is quite obvious. If there were supposedly "several" complainers, where exactly are they? Funny how it's only Leisha and Camila who have come out publicly. One would think those complainers would be defending Southwest, but they seem to be nowhere. I wonder why.

    Posted by: Francis | Sep 27, 2011 4:00:11 PM

  11. Obviously Hailey and Grey are telling the truth -- there's no question of that.

    The only questions are when is Southwest going to acknowledge that and what are they going to do about it?

    Southwest is making the situation much worse for themselves than it has to be with each passing hour.

    Posted by: justme | Sep 27, 2011 4:23:31 PM

  12. If I had the time/energy, I would organize a "controlled experiment."

    Organize three couples - man/woman, man/man, woman/woman - to fly on the same Southwest flight on sequential days. Have them perform the same type of kiss - overt, not vulgar - and see what happens.

    That might help to figure out if it was the couple, the other passengers, the individual flight attendant, or an entire airline policy that should be faulted.

    I suspect that a bigoted passenger made a comment to an unthinking flight attendant who made the wrong decision to pass on the complaint. It's the flight attendant who should be disciplined, probably.

    Posted by: gr8guyca | Sep 27, 2011 4:29:10 PM

  13. Isn't this the same airline that ejected Kevin Smith for being overweight because customers complained he was crowding them?

    I guess families who fly Southwest don't like fat people, either.

    Posted by: Rin | Sep 27, 2011 4:31:43 PM

  14. The bigger story here is this: Leisha and Camila are a couple?! I thought Camila was dating Clea DuValll.

    Posted by: lady8 | Sep 27, 2011 4:42:15 PM

  15. "Obviously Hailey and Grey are telling the truth -- there's no question of that."

    Oh, obviously. I mean, I've personally never met an unreasonable, hostile lesbian so surely the airline is at fault.

    Posted by: jkljkl | Sep 27, 2011 4:54:21 PM

  16. Didn't she Tweet that the incident was captured on video? I'd like to see it.

    And to RIN: No passenger complained about Kevin Smith. In FACT, both passengers in his row, on either side of him, said he, nor his weight, were bothering them.
    BUT! Yes, it's the same airline.

    Posted by: JimmyD | Sep 27, 2011 4:55:07 PM

  17. I think a boycott might eloquently communicate the passenger's negative experience!

    Posted by: tikihead | Sep 27, 2011 5:00:11 PM

  18. @JimmyD

    then I take back my snark at families who fly Southwest.

    Thank you for informing me so that I can redirect it at a more worthy target like Sean Avery.

    Posted by: Rin | Sep 27, 2011 5:01:09 PM

  19. If I were a misogynist, JKLJKL, maybe I'd see it your way. Or maybe I would if I had a thoroughly unfounded belief in the unerring effiency, professionalism, intelligence and courtesy of the airline industry.

    Since I'm not the former and don't have the latter, yes, I'm going to have to go with the obvious and sane option that the ladies are telling the truth.

    Posted by: justme | Sep 27, 2011 5:18:26 PM

  20. My husband and I have flown a lot of miles with SWA with no hint of a problem, including no issue when we've given each other a kiss pre, during or post-flight. When we travelled in 2004 from LAX to SFO to get married (the first time) after Newsome decided to start issuing same sex marriage licenses, the FA popped up with two comped bloody marys, and at the end of the flight said over the P.A. "Congratulations to Will and Bob for the special day." Then there was a bottle of champagne with our name on it for the flight back to LAX. Plus I have several gay friends who work for the airline and they love the corporate culture. I'd like to see this video and audio documentation that she claims she has; I have yet to see it posted anywhere. My own personal conjecture is that this is a tempest in a teapot.

    Posted by: BobC562 | Sep 27, 2011 5:30:10 PM

  21. On other website people are automatically siding with the airlines cause "obviously these women were creating a spectacle" Southwest seems to be a on a tear lately, throwing a muslim woman off the plane cause a bigot assumed she said "it's a go" (implying she was planning a terrorist attack), throwing people off plans for disagreeing with their style of dress, etc. I'm definitely siding with the lesbians in this case. Since I already abhor Southwest Airlines and refuse to fly their cattle trough of an airline, I urge everyone to boycott this low cost low class carrier.

    Posted by: Rhydderch | Sep 27, 2011 6:08:51 PM

  22. Oh, I'm not a misogynist, JUSTME. My mother is a lovely woman. I just hate lesbians.

    Posted by: JKLJKL | Sep 27, 2011 6:15:29 PM

  23. Very nice statement by Uh Huh Her. I'm surprised that its only Leisha's acting career that gets mentioned in most of the media. UHH are quite successful but Camila Grey seems quite invisible to even most of the gay media. But I had no idea that these two are a couple. I thought they were both publicly attached to someone else.

    Posted by: kyle | Sep 27, 2011 6:34:44 PM

  24. What is it with the grammar police feeling the need to declare their superior intellect by picking apart minor errors in punctuation or syntax? I was an English major in college, and I have my pet peeves when it comes to poor writing. With the exception of a couple commas that should be periods and a clunky phrase or two, there's nothing wrong with Hailey and Grey's statement. People need to stop being so pedantic and focus on what's important.

    Posted by: Shawn | Sep 27, 2011 6:56:44 PM

  25. "Additional reports from our Employees and Customers onboard flight 2274 during a stop in El Paso on Sunday now confirm profane language was being used loudly by two passengers."

    Translation: Profane language was being used loudly by two LESBIANS and we thought it was a good reason to boot them off the plane.

    Listen up Southwest.

    I fly quite a bit and profane language is used constantly by passengers. It's appalling actually and Americans are some of the worst. But please do not attempt to use profane language as an excuse.

    Posted by: AllBeefPatty | Sep 27, 2011 7:14:58 PM

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