Sure, Leisha Hailey and Camila Grey are getting tons of publicity now. But that wasn't their intention when they shared a kiss on an airplane.
So say the ladies, who were escorted off a Southwest flight before takeoff yesterday, with the airline maintaining that booting the couple had everything to do with their behavior and tone they took with the staff—and nothing to do with their gender.
"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," Hailey and Grey said today in a joint statement.
They do admit, however, that they're not entirely without fault.
"We are responsible adult women who walk through the world with dignity," they said. "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."
Well, if you can go by Twitter, plenty of people are on Hailey and Grey's side, including a few celebs who claim to be taking their business elsewhere.
(Originally published Sept. 27, 2011, at 12:58 p.m. PT)
Hailey's The L Word costar Sarah Shahi wrote (and thanks for the shout-out, Sarah): " : Leisha Hailey Booted Off Southwest Flight for...Kissing Her Girlfriend?!'...shockedAndrepulsedsouthwest!!!"
"This is a hoot added Sandra Bernhard.Southwest Airlines The LUV Airline! the "luv" airline. what kind of "luv" are ya talkin bout?"
Wrote Jessica Veronica of The Veronicas: "I knew I hated SouthWest for a reason!! Kissing your girlfriend on this airline apparently deemed 'indecent behaviour'."
"Via quipped today. "Via ' starting to display a pattern' First thing I'd scrutinize is the SWA claim of 'passenger complaints'. I can tell you from experience that SWA first lies with a cover story, and then quietly changes it without admitting."'you see 's trouble w/ ? booted for kissing her girlfriend.' Sounds like a case of Too Fab to Fly," Smith
UPDATE: Southwest released this additional 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."