Friday, September 22, 2006

Gay snuggling ban from SFO's second-biggest airline

Extraordinary story out of this week's New Yorker: an American Airlines stewardess and purser stopped two gay men on a flight from Paris (!) to New York from kissing or touching:
Shortly after takeoff, Varnier nodded off, leaning his head on Tsikhiseli. A stewardess came over to their row. “The purser wants you to stop that,” she said.

“I opened my eyes and was, like, ‘Stop what?’ ” Varnier recalled the other day.

“The touching and the kissing,” the stewardess said, before walking away.

Tsikhiseli and Varnier were taken aback. “He would rest his head on my shoulder or the other way around. We’d kiss—not kiss kiss, just mwah,” Tsikhiseli recalled, making a smacking sound.

The two men were later reprimanded by the airplane captain.

What's more, American Airlines is officially standing behind its no-gay-snuggling policy with an official spokesman telling the New Yorker:
Our passengers need to recognize that they are in an environment with all ages, backgrounds, creeds, and races. We have an obligation to make as many of them feel as comfortable as possible.

American Airlines is the second-busiest carrier at SFO, with 8 percent of landing weight, ranked behind United with 42 percent. Interestingly, it is a corporate sponsor of the Billy DeFrank LGBT community center in San Jose and has a corporate non-discrimination policy on "gender identity or expression," according to Equality California, a gay rights group.

Living and working in San Francisco, it can be easy to forget the city is way ahead of the curve on gay rights. Local hospitality companies Joie de Vivre, Kimpton Group and Personality Hotels go out of their way to embrace the LGBT community. And it is hard to imagine a restaurant in this city that would dare institute a policy like American Airlines'.

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