Was it all a stunt? Lesbian actress denies claims she was thrown off flight for kissing girlfriend just to publicise her tour
A frenzy stirred on Twitter and gay rights activists roiled after actress and singer Leisha Hailey was kicked off of a Southwest flight for kissing her girlfriend.
However, Ms Hailey’s electro-pop band Uh Huh Her is preparing to launch a 21-day concert tour, she denies any seeming coincidence connecting the two.
In spite of massive media coverage of the incident, Ms Hailey’s publicist insists that it was ‘absolutely not’ a publicity stunt.
The airline’s defence has been that it is a family airline and that their ‘excessive’ actions caused complaints from other passengers.
The actress and her partner, Camila Grey, released a statement Tuesday saying that the affection they showed toward each other was inappropriate.
‘We want to make it clear we were not making out or creating any kind of spectacle of ourselves, it was one modest kiss,’ the written statement read.
‘We are responsible adult women who walk through the world with dignity. We were simply being affectionate like any normal couple.’
The band’s Twitter feed also characterized the kiss as fleeting. ‘I didn’t realize a small peck on the lips is regarded as excessive and never once did your stewardess mention other passengers,’ said the tweet from UhHuhHerMusic.
Ms Hailey and Ms Grey acknowledge they became upset after the flight attendant reprimanded them.
No matter how quietly homophobia is whispered, it doesn’t make it any less loud,’ the statement said. ‘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.’
Ms Hailey and Ms Gray said they plan to file a formal complaint with the airline.
The lesbian star of now-defunct ‘The L Word’ took to Twitter to air her grievances Monday.
Vent: Leisha Hailey demanded a public apology from the airline via Twitter
Ms Hailey, 40, tweeted that a flight attendant had told her that Southwest ‘was a “family” airline and kissing was not ok’, and that she and her companion were then ‘escorted off the plane for getting upset about the issue’.
‘SouthwestAir endorses homophobic employees,’ she tweeted. ‘Since when is showing affection toward someone you love illegal? I want to know what Southwest Airlines considers a “family”.’
She went on to tweet: ‘Boycott SouthwestAir if you are gay. They don’t like us.’
Ms Hailey, who starred on Showtime network’s ‘The L Word’ as Alice, a bisexual magazine writer and radio host, also demanded a public apology.
She has also had roles on Grey’s Anatomy, Drop Dead Diva and CSI.
She came out as a lesbian at age 17 and previously had a five year relationship with Canadian country singer K.D. Lang.
The airline issued a statement saying initial reports it received about the incident ‘indicate that we received several passenger complaints characterizing the behaviour as excessive’.
‘Our crew, responsible for the comfort of all customers on board, approached the passengers based solely on behaviour and not gender,’ the airline said. ‘The conversation escalated to a level that was better resolved on the ground, as opposed to in flight.’
Personal identity: Leisha Hailey played a bisexual magazine editor on ‘The L Word’ which centres around a group of lesbians and transgender people in LA
The statement concluded: ‘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 expectation.
An airline spokesman declined to comment beyond the prepared statement.
The incident comes a little over three weeks after another celebrity, Green Day rocker Billie Joe Armstrong, was complained he was booted from a Southwest flight in Oakland, California, because he was wearing his baggy pants too low.
Actor and director Kevin Smith also ran into trouble with the low-cost airline last year when he was kicked off a flight for being too fat.
The heavy star originally booked two seats, he jumped at the chance to fly standby on an earlier flight, where only one seat was available.
Though dress and size also seem to rile the airline, this is not the first time Southwest Airlines has been accused anti-gay remarks and actions.
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