Leisha took to her twitter account last afternoon to express her justifiable outrage. (Click to enlarge. Read from the bottom to the top for the correct chronology).
So at Southwest bags fly free, but gay ladies can’t fly at all?
My outrage at this is multifold, and only compounded by Southwest’s official statement on the incident, released hours later. It read, in part:
“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.”
I think Southwest’s spell check is broken because they typed the word “excessive” when they really meant “gay.” You know, they’re pretty much interchangeable for some people. Now, I’ve flown a lot in my day. Across the state, across the country, across the oceans. And I have seen a lot of straight couples kiss on airplanes. A lot. And sometimes vigorously. But I have never seen a straight couple asked to stop kissing on an airplane. And I have never seen a straight couple escorted off for complaining that they were asked to stop kissing on an airplane. Never. Not once.
The Uh Huh Her twitter feed responded in kind, refuting this whole “excessive” business:
Besides that clear double standard (which blames the gays for daring to be gay and also daring to kiss while being gay), Southwest is essentially shrugging off its responsibility for its actions by claiming they were just reacting to passenger complaints. So, if some wingnut says he doesn’t like Asian people on his flight, would Southwest then – because it says is “responsible for the comfort of all Customers on board” – ask those Asian people to leave? If a homophobic passenger doesn’t like to see gay people show affection toward each other, why do his rights trump the couple’s rights? How is that more of a “family” value than embracing love – in all of its variations? This from the company that calls itself the LUV Airline.
Now, the naysayers (and there are always sayers making with the nay – this is the internet, it practically breeds them) will say that gays should just cool it with the PDA. That all PDA is uncomfortable and should not be allowed for anyone – but, you know, especially that icky gay kind that has the potential to make “normal” Americans have to explain to their kids that the world is a big place and not everyone is the same or some such socialist malarkey.
They say when gay people kiss in public they “want attention” or are “rubbing it in other people’s faces” or “whatever other homophobic bullshit I can say to mask the deep insecurity I feel about my own sexuality and that one time at summer camp with my cute counselor.” To those people I want to make a rational argument about how affection between straight and gay couples is no different, and what is acceptable for one should be just as acceptable for the other. But mostly I just want to tell those people to go fuck themselves. Truly, I could not be more sincere about that.
Look, I highly doubt Leisha and her lady friend were trying to go all Bette Porter at the opera on each other in their seats. Nothing about modern air travel is even the least bit conducive to a frisky finger bang session. Instead, like a lot of couples do, they shared a small smooch or two before the plane took off. Again, like a lot of couples do. If a straight couple did it, these same so-called complainers would probably say “Awwww.” Because a gay couple did it they said “Ewwww.”
Keep in mind, this is also the airline that kicked Greenday’s Billie Joe Armstrong off one of its planes for wearing saggy pants and director Kevin Smith off one of its planes for being too, in his own words, “fat.” And those are just the famous people they’ve wronged. They also have that pilot who accidentally broadcast his homophobic, misogynistic rant about “gays,” “grannies” and “grandes” to all the planes in the Houston area. Ironically, they’re also the official airlines of the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation.
What is most frustrating about this, besides the obvious inequality and homophobia, is that every gay person already has an internal monitor that she or he uses to regulate public behavior. It’s mostly subconscious, often just instinctual. But it has been ingrained in us from the moment we realized we were different. I call it the “Is It Worth It?” Meter. It’s that meter tells us how fully we can be ourselves and when it is worth the consequences. For the most part, the answer is always yes. Yes, it’s worth it to be out. Yes, it’s worth it to be public. Yes, it’s worth it to hold your girlfriend’s hand at the movie theater.
But then there are times when it simply is not worth it. No, it’s not worth it to tell the douchey coffee guy who always tries to hit on you because it will only make him hit on you harder, and with more lesbian jokes. No, it’s not worth it to keep holding your girlfriend’s hand when you’re walking home late at night and nearing a large group of unruly men.
So for every person out there who persists on thinking we’re just shoving our big gay agenda into their faces, trust me – we’ve thought about the consequences of what we’re doing a lot more than you ever have. And we do what we do because we’ve decided that it’s worth it – despite all the bullshit – to be who we are. Because to self-censor ourselves for other people’s so-called comfort isn’t doing the world any favors. In fact, it hurts the world to let this double standard exist that says one kind of love is more acceptable than another kind of love. We think long and hard and endlessly about many of the simple gestures that straight people just take for granted.
So each time gay people demand to be treated equal, cry foul against discrimination and simply dare to give the person we love a kiss before the plane takes off, we chip away at that double standard. We stake our claim on our own equality. We say, I have the right to do this. If that makes you uncomfortable world, well, that’s your fucking problem. It’s not excessive to kiss someone you love, Southwest Airlines. And it is definitely worth it.
EDIT: Leisha Hailey and Camila Grey of Uh Huh Her have released an official statement about their Kissgate. It reads, in part:
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.
Exactly, ladies. Exactly.