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

UPDATED BELOW w NEW SOUTHWEST STATEMENT

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.

You may have missed…
'L Word' Actress Leisha Hailey Says Southwest Kicked Her Off Plane for Kissing Girlfriend [tr]

Comments

  1. SFShawn says

    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.

  2. Mike says

    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).

  3. Mike says

    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…

  4. Gay American says

    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!

  5. Ian says

    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.

    http://www.southwest.com/html/southwest-difference/community-involvement/glbt/index.html

    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.

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/06/24/southwest-pilot-gay-rant_n_883841.html

    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.

  6. V-8 says

    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…

  7. Francis says

    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.

  8. justme says

    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.

  9. gr8guyca says

    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.

  10. Rin says

    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.

  11. lady8 says

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

  12. jkljkl says

    “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.

  13. JimmyD says

    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.

  14. Rin says

    @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.

  15. justme says

    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.

  16. BobC562 says

    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.

  17. Rhydderch says

    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.

  18. kyle says

    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.

  19. Shawn says

    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.

  20. AllBeefPatty says

    “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.

  21. testing" ton says

    I kinda side with the airlines on this one. It sounds like the sequence of events was this.

    They made out a little bit

    some uppity homophobe complained

    the flight attendant asked them to stop

    they got all indignant about it and started swearing

    some passenger with kids complained about the swearing

    they were removed from the plane.

    I’m sorry but gay, straight, lesbian, bi nobody should be making out on planes, it’s tacky. And if a flight attendant asks you to stop a behavior, you should stop it.

  22. LiamB says

    I think we can all acknowledge that what constitutes “excessive” behavior differs between straight couples and gay ones. I have had friends yelled at for “perverting children” while merely holding hands. Others accused of shoving their sexuality onto people for a peck on the lips. Meanwhile, I have watched straight couples one step away from actual intercourse, in full view of the public; yet, no one complains.

    Can’t say I know these two personally, though I have been following Cam for the last two years via Twitter, and from just that exposure she has never came across as someone prone to “in your face” behavior. She is usually fairly reserved, and often described that way by her friends.

    SWA, on the other hand, have a history of discrimination for suspect reasons. They respond with a story, then change the details, then change them again, each time blaming something or someone else. It was the pilot’s decision. No wait, it was the attendant’s. It was a customer complaint, err . . . we meant that the crew was concerned. Well, we wouldn’t have kicked you off but you got angry.

    Hell they have been caught changing details posted on their own site, but not noting the alterations, nor changing the post date.

    Sorry, but I’m far more prone to give them the benefit of the doubt, than SWA.

  23. Lisa says

    It sounds like we are dealing with an “actress” who has a unjustified sense of entitlement. Her excessive display of affection and aggression are absolutely outrageous. She sets an appalling example for gays and lesbians everywhere. How dare she play the gay card! I hope the airline sues her.

  24. Randy says

    “their removal was directly and solely related to the escalated conversation”

    No, you don’t get to wriggle out of it that easily.

    Where did the conversation come from? That’s what we need to know. Anybody can be provoked into an “escalated conversation”.

  25. Wil in Minneapolis says

    I watched that “Airline” program on A&E before A&E became .. well .. the Southwest of basic cable, frankly. But I digress! At that time, my SO and I came up with the following slogan for Southwest: “Flown by rednecks, for rednecks.” That way years ago and it seem nothing has changed with that Greyhound of the sky.

    Well, I can now add Ms. Hailey and her loves experience to the long, long, long list of why I will never fly Southwest.

  26. RHYDDERCH says

    @Wil in Minneapolis: Couldn’t agree more. If anything “Airline” on A&E only confirmed my opinion of Southwest.

    @LiamB: Your comments sum up my feelings exactly. From a customer service service standpoint, they’ve had multiple well publicized situations with customers that in-hindsight were completely avoidable. This story has many holes in it and no doubt some homophobes got bent out of shape and when confronted by the airlines, they had every right to call them out. However these days the pilots and the flight attendants relish their post 9/11 authority. You stare at them the wrong way and they have cause to throw you off the plane.

  27. Scott Rose says

    Here’s how you can tell that Southwest employees discriminated against the couple on the basis of their orientation; Southwest made the statements it did, instead of saying “Anything a heterosexual couple may do on our flights, a homosexual couple may do also. Heterosexual persons not able to cope with that should not fly on Southwest Airlines”

  28. justme says

    So they insulted their passengers, their passengers reacted the way anyone who was insulted would, and that reaction got them thrown off the plane. And this makes the passengers responsible how, exactly?

    Southwest won’t even admit they’re wrong and that’s all I need to know.

    I’ve flown my last Southwest flight and I will do everything I can to discourage everyone I know from flying them, as well.

  29. sarah says

    WHile i’m sure that, on a national level SWA is very pro-gay (they’d be stupid not to be), this was in El Paso, and could have likely been a TX-based flight crew.

    I can imagine that’s part of the reason for this unreasonable situation.

  30. HarryJoseph says

    This just sucks. With every positive story about the LGBT community there is one that reminds us we have a ways to go. From all reports it sounds like an innocent kiss not some sloppy make out session. My Italian side of the family kisses everyone guys/girls, guys/guys, and girls/girls I guess we could not fly Southwest. LOL But seriously I am a 35yo gay man and I am not big on public displays of affection. This type of thing doesn’t fall into that but I can’t tell you how many times I have been say at the mall and had to see a hardcore make out sloppy kissing session between a straight couple. It’s kinda gross. Hand holding and simple kissing I am ok with but everything else should be left for private time straight or gay. But again this does not fall into that scenario. I just wanted to point that out.

  31. wimsy says

    Would a straight couple kissing have been thrown off the plane?

    Would a loudmouth cracker using foul language to describe them there Titans be thrown off the plane?

    Would I ever cram myself into a sardine can full of illiterate yokels?

    No, no, and no.

  32. dotty says

    I have seen parents – gay and straight – get uncomfortable with PDA. It’s not about being bigoted or discriminatory, it’s about being forced to have a conversation you’re not ready to have with your children.

    Additionally, flying is a privilege, not a right. I’ve read horror stories about people getting booted from flights for the smallest, most insane reasons. That is the purview of the airline, and if you don’t like it, definitely take your business elsewhere.

    Just know, though, that there are going to be individuals in any organization with a God complex just looking for a reason to use you to overcome their bad childhoods (or at the very least, bad day). No amount of sensitivity training can catch all the bad apples.

    Rights are being abridged every day in this country in the most grievous ways you can imagine. That a spoiled actress acted crazy and was therefore inconvenienced demeans those who are truly out there being hurt and marginalized, yet keep fighting the good fight. As another poster said – tempest, teapot, etc.

  33. newcityspot says

    Ew! Forget this airline. I like fat people (especially Kevin Smith), I was a fan of Green Day when I was a teen, and I’m gay just like the lesbians, so I’ll just assume there’s something wrong with me and not risk humiliation by SouthWest. I don’t think I’ve ever flown SouthWest. You never hear about this problem on JetBlue! I love JetBlue!

  34. stranded says

    I’m sure that if it were a straight couple trying to sneaking into a restroom to join the “mile high club”, they would’ve received a wink and a nod from the passengers and cabin crew but they don’t get kicked out.

    It’s beyond disgusting.

  35. SG says

    Absolute #$%$..this ISN’T a lesbian issue. She was kicked off a flight for lewd behavior prob witnessed by a fellow commuter and thinks because in her mind she is a big star that she can get back at them with complete baseless allegations! Screw her.

    In a statement late Tuesday night, the airline said it kicked Hailey and her girlfriend Camilia Grey off a flight earlier this week for profanity — not because the actress planted a kiss on her partner.

    “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,” Southwest wrote.

    I love how she claims to have video or audio of what happened but it’s never surfaced and if it was based on actual homophobia you know tons of people would be taking video with their phones.

    Just another publicity hound who’s brief moment in the spotlight has already passed.

    This is another case of a “past-her-prime starlet” trying desperately to get the attention of the media. She shot her wad – so to speak – in the L Word series and is now trying to find free marketing. Alas, she has neither the talent nor the looks to find further employment in that very competitive business. I suggest she find a good Sugar-Moma to support her. (Maybe that’s what she was doing on the airplane.)

    I’ve seen a few articles that actually quote other passengers who stated their display was excessive, and that their reaction to a polite request from the flight attendant was hostile and belligerent.