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‘L-Word’ actress reacts to Southwest’s gay snub: I won’t apologize

By Kase Wickman
Tuesday, September 27, 2011 16:06 EDT
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Leisha Hailey, an actress who starred on “The L-Word” and performs in electro-pop band Uh Huh Her, took to the Twittersphere Monday evening in a tirade against Southwest Airlines.

Hailey said that she had kissed another woman on a Southwest flight, and was told by an employee that Southwest was a “family airline” and was subsequently removed from the flight.

On Tuesday, Hailey and her bandmate Camila Grey released a statement through their management about the incident. (Grey also tweeted about the ordeal from the band’s Twitter account.)

“No matter how quietly homophobia is whispered, it doesn’t make it any less loud,” the statement reads in part. “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.”

The airline had previously released a statement saying the crew had “received several passenger complaints characterizing the behavior as excessive,” so an employee approached Hailey. The argument escalated, and Hailey was removed.

“The above is not an apology and we are in the process of filing a formal complaint with the airline,” the band’s statement reads. “We hope that when all is said and done a greater tolerance without prejudice will evolve.”

Southwest hails itself as an LGBT-friendly airline and the official airline of GLAAD and other gay advocacy groups. Representatives of GLAAD said that the group had contacted Southwest, but no action had yet been taken.

Read Uh Huh Her’s full statement below.

UH HUH HER:
Camila Grey and Leisha Hailey 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.

www.uhhuhher.com

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Update: Southwest Airlines has released this 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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Image via Wikimedia Commons

Kase Wickman
Kase Wickman
Kase Wickman is a reporter for Raw Story. She holds a journalism degree from Boston University and grew up in Eugene, OR. Her work has been featured in The Boston Globe, Village Voice Media, The Christian Science Monitor, The Houston Chronicle and on NPR, among others. She lives in New York City and tweets from @kasewickman.
 
 
 
 
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