You know when white, Conservative, heterosexual, suburbanites drop into social equality discussions the phrase, “I have gay friends,” well, I’m it. And as the “it” girl, I consider “it” my responsibility to educate and enlighten them with a point of view that provokes thought, solicits conversation, and perhaps creates a little more understanding.
For the last couple of days, I have been asked by friends and co-workers my opinion on the turbulence created when a Southwest Airlines flight attendant admonished L Word’s, Leisha Hailey, and Uh Huh Her girlfriend, Camila Grey, for an in-cabin public display of affection. I was approached by someone in my office with, “They were kicked off for making out on a plane, what’s the big deal?” Well, I have to admit, having been the aisle seat-mate, on more than a few occasions, of two people tongue wrestling for two hours with absolutely no stewardship, I am of the opinion that no mater if gay, straight, or curious, if that shit doesn’t fit in the overhead, then it needs to be checked at the gate.
That being said, here is the big deal about what happened with Leisha Hailey and her girlfriend. On a daily basis, straight couples enjoy, at will, the luxury, and yes, it is a luxury, of displaying their affection for each other in modest, unassuming ways, without ever being criticized for any social impropriety or sexual perversion. But, let me kiss my partner hello when meeting her for drinks after work, or let me hold her hand on a plane to re-assure her fading confidence in bumpy flight, and it is considered an assault on surrounding values.
Southwest Airlines released a second statement in response to Leisha’s posting of her version of the events, and are pulling back on the throttle and putting on the speed brakes in regard to the claim of LGBT discrimination. The airline is now touting their “tenets of inclusion” and the company’s “celebration of diversity” while explaining it was the continued use of profanity that got two passengers ejected. Here is Southwest’s first statement.
I would be more inclined to believe Southwest’s second fly by had the flight attendant not used the word, “family”, in her explanation to describe the airline and its view of the couple’s behavior. Whether it’s Focus on the Family, Florida Family Association, Family Research Council, American Family Association, or the political party of “family” values, as a lesbian and an American, I am well aware of the homo-hater’s bastardized definition of the word.
I feel that Southwest got caught up in its on real-life version of their Wanna Get Away campaign. In an industry based on consumer choice and the realization that all those rainbow dollars could be spent along a more United, gay-American, Frontier, the airline changed, a Delta of sorts, their side of the story in fear their profits could crash and burn. It’s no surprise really, we have seen the same corporate behavior in General Mills of late when accused of pulling cereal sponsorship of ABC’s Pretty Little Liars and its lesbian character.
Southwest touts on it’s website that it is the official airline of GLAAD (Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation), the Gay-Straight Alliance Network (GSA), and the National Gay & Lesbian Chamber of Commerce (NGLCC). That’s a whole lotta gay! Considering the recent developments, perhaps a little sensitivity retraining for your employees is in order. Remember the Southwest pilot with the stuck mic?
Gotta say, Southwest, this L-word votes with my money, and for now, I’m free to walk about the cabin of another airline. How’s that for Rapid Rewards?