I will start by saying that I don’t have any personal knowledge of the incident I’m about to rant about. But the weasel words and non-pologies involved sound a hell of a lot like other incidents where business discrimination against LGBT people is allowed because the employees acted on personal prejudice without friendly witnesses. Basically I’m inclined to believe that improper discrimination is the most likely explanation based on a preponderance of current evidence.
I confess I’ve never heard of Leisha Hailey, who apparently starred in The L Word and is in a band called Uh Huh Her. I’ve never had Showtime, and I’ve been pretty lax about new music for the last couple of years. But I do follow LGBTQ discrimination stories because all people deserve respect and basic human dignity.
According to Hailey’s account, she and her girlfriend, Camila Grey, shared a peck kiss on Southwest Airlines flight 2274 Monday, and were admonished by a flight attendant for doing so because Southwest is a “family business” and therefore gay kissing was a horror to be stopped at all costs. When Hailey protested at obvious anti-gay discrimination, the flight attendant escalated the conversation to the point that the couple were escorted off the plane.
Southwest’s only public response on Monday was a short statement blaming the harassed women for their ejection and a standard non-pology couched in terms of anonymous “customer complaint” over “excessive” behavior:
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.
Note that they don’t define what behavior specifically was the problem, carefully making sure not to define what precise level of affection was so offensive. I’ve also seen far too many business apologies like this one claiming that all they did was respond to “several” complaints without there being any corroborated evidence that this is the case or that these complaints were valid.
I imagine that any number of homophobic assholes would report hand-holding, hugs and even the most chaste of kisses between people of the same-sex as “excessive” displays of affection. It reminds me powerfully of the frequent comments I see from people like former Utah State Senator Chris Buttars who claim that gay people existing in public (instead of in the closet where such dirty creatures belong) is “shoving it down our throats.” On a more national scale, figures like those heads of SPLC hate groups often insist that equality for LGBTQ people is tantamount to special rights; such people would also complain that any show of love and affection between gay people was a threat to a “family” environment as they often couch their anti-gay animus in “pro-family” terms.
Furthering my suspicions about the likelihood that flight crew discriminated against Ms. Hailey and her girlfriend is the fact that there is a history of anti-gay incidents from their employees, e.g. this event from June of this year. When a massively homophobic pilot faces only sensitivity training after a verbal bashing session that was sexist, fat-phobic and age-based on top of anti-gay, I think it’s fair to say that employees face little to no consequences for their prejudice. (And personally, I think the pilot would have escaped even that if the tirade had not been recorded to be a public embarrassment.)
…eleven f***ing over-the-top, f***ing a**-f***ing homosexuals … Well I don’t give a f***. I hate 100 percent of their a**es.
I’m certain that the training seminar completely corrected all his hateful tendencies and he would never try to abuse or discriminate against gay people if he had an opportunity to do so surreptitiously. Or back in reality, he’s still the fucking asshole who “100%” hates them.