Those Damned Lesbian Terrorists

My husband and I are…well, we’re one of those “cute” couples you see out and about. We hold hands walking to work. We make eyes at each other over dinner in restaurants.  And we definitely snog on airplanes.

Somehow, however, we’ve missed out on the experience of being kicked off a plane for doing so.

Former “The L Word” star Leisha Hailey complained in a stream of Twitter messages on Monday that she and a girlfriend were kicked off a Southwest Airlines flight in a dispute over their kissing on a plane.

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.”

As with pretty much every incident of this sort over the last decade, this embarrassment for the airline came about because their representatives were willing to step up and harass minority passengers on behalf of provincial idiots who think it’s their god-given right to never spend one uncomfortable moment in their lives.

That’s right. This couple was kicked off the plane because other passengers griped that they were kissing “too much.” Then they had the great gall to point out to the flight attendant that it wasn’t their problem if their kissing made someone else edgy. It wasn’t their problem that–unlike when my husband and I kiss and are viewed as (sometimes nauseatingly) cute–kisses between two women are considered more sexual and, therefore, less appropriate for family.

Except, of course, that it was their problem, because that is how the system is set up. They had to pay for someone else’s fears by not being allowed to fly while the bigots get a free pass. They had to pay the same way the imams did because they dared to pray in public before their flight. They had to pay the same way a musician did for reading about vintage airplanes while traveling while brown. They had to pay the same way a former reporter and a couple of other dark-skinned folks did for having been accidentally seated together and having gotten up to use the bathroom on this September 11. They had to pay the same price that all too many people with medical conditions have had to pay because their circumstances were strange to some half-trained TSA agent.

Every single one of those people has had to deal with being treated like a terrorist because some yokel or yokels couldn’t tell the difference between a threat and something their vast, boundless experience had simply never put them in contact with before. They all were subjected to harassment and humiliation because we, as a nation, are so concerned with the specter of terrorism that we can’t tell the difference between terror and simple novelty.

How much further does this have to go before we stand up and demand that we stop listening to the fearful children, terrified that a monster under the bed might bring down a plane? How long until we depose the petty tyrants on airplanes and in security queues who can’t or won’t differentiate between, “Don’t be a silly ass,” and, “I’ve got a bomb!” How long until we say, “Kissing?!? Are you kidding me? What were they going to do, suck the glass out of the windows?”

If we don’t stop doing it soon, those of us who might weird somebody out (reading The God Delusion in front of a Christian, anyone?), are going to have to gang together and start getting audibly nervous on planes. I vote for starting with business travelers. Suits to travel in a sardine cans? That’s just wrong. What are they hiding under there?

Who’s with me?

Those Damned Lesbian Terrorists
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15 thoughts on “Those Damned Lesbian Terrorists

  1. HS

    If I could “not fly Southwest” any harder, I would. But I can’t figure out a way to actually take money from them legally, so they will just have to continue getting not a single dime from me.

    It seems like all a lot of the airline kerfuffles could be addressed by realizing, finally, that access to airlines is like access to other forms of public transportation: it’s a necessary part of freedom to travel. Being restricted from air travel, especially by discriminatory harassment, is a serious problem. It cramps our ability to actually move around this rather large country, much less conduct any international business.

  2. 4

    What the hell is “wrong” with snogging in public? As long as the hands are over the clothing, and nothing… intimate… is exposed, I don’t see a problem with it. I mean, yeah, we’ve all had the experience of being near That One Couple who can’t keep their hands off each other and are practically having sex through their clothes, and I think it’d be perfectly reasonable to ask That One Couple to keep it PG, but we’re talking about a KISS, here. A kiss, FFS!


    I’d rather see people snogging than, say, getting drunk and belligerent.

  3. 5

    This is maybe secondary, but…

    I’ve always found it… I dunno, isolating? Discouraging? … that I never get to see gay couples so much as holding hands in public. It makes me feel sort of alone, whenever I think of it, that my personal shade of love is so invisible (along with the inverse of mine, with two women). And this crap is basically the reason for that invisibility.

  4. 6

    It’s easy for me since I don’t have to travel far these days, but I decided not to air travel until the current TSA is disbanded or made less tyrannical. Once train travel becomes as bad I guess it’s all car for me. But by then there will be checkpoints on boarders and payment for driving on all roads. Slippery slope, I know, but really I see no reason why it’s not a logical step considering our current political climate.

  5. 7

    Robert, that isn’t remotely secondary. Even in very gay-friendly Minneapolis, I only see that in semi-public: F&SF cons, when a couple is out with a big enough group of friends, gay bars, other self-selecting spaces.

  6. 8

    I think I know why those people complained: the only lesbians kissing they are used to is in lesbian porn, so any lesbian kissing is pornographic to them.

  7. 9

    I think we should all get on airplanes and be vocally afraid of white middle-class Christians and Catholics, since they might accuse us of being evil, arrange to have us raped by TSA agents, and thrown in jail; clearly a violation of our civil rights.

    At least, in that situation, we would have a whole lot of lovely evidence to support our claims, as opposed to propaganda and a decade-long witch-hunt…

    And, if I may be immature for a moment, I support public lesbian snogging and groping and I would like to see more of it.

  8. 10

    While I don’t disagree with any point made herein at all, I think it’s worth noting that the TSA and airline “security” procedures spectacularly belligerent, authoritarian, and pointless, even if you’re a lily white, American-accented, straight male. I’m sure it’s all the worse for anyone that doesn’t fit that particular subset, and this shouldn’t be construed in any way as “what about the menz!”, just noting that in any particular instance of absurd conduct it’s hard to say whether it’s a product of generic jackassery or specifically targeted bigotry. This case sure looks like a bit of both.

  9. 11

    Every single one of those people has had to deal with being treated like a terrorist because some yokel or yokels couldn’t tell the difference between a threat and something their vast, boundless experience had simply never put them in contact with before.

    Ok, funny anecdote time….
    My wife and I were living in Germany for a little over a year, and at one point brought my mom over for some touristy sight seeing fun.

    We were having lunch at the cafe near Hohenschanwgau castle, just down the hill from the famous Neuschwanstein (I probably spelled that wrong) castle, and some big haired woman stood up and proclaimed loud enough for everyone in the restaurant to hear, that this simply was nothing like what she experienced back home in TX.

    The collective sound of all the facepalms was probably mistaken for applause…..

    Robert B., in the year I spent in Europe, I got to see plenty. All I could think was how much it would be nice to be able to see that back in the states, if only to watch all the heads explode….

    It seems we’ve still got a long way to go.

    Lorax, you got my vote too!

  10. 15

    While I cannot argue that kicking people off the plane for being visible lesbians is discriminatory and wrong, I have been in a three seat row on an airplane with a (straight)couple who would NOT STOP SUCKING FACE. It was disgusting. It was loud. It made the already uncomfortable travel experience kind of horrifying. I seriously thought they were going to join the frikkin mile high club right there, two inches away from from me. I would have stood up and cheered if they had been booted from the plane.

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