Unfinished Lives

Remembering LGBT Hate Crime Victims

Southwest Air Pilot Smears Gays on Radio, Suspended, Then Reinstated

Southwest Air Flight Attendant Ken Cummings Jr. (r), and his murderer, Terry Mark Mangum (l)

Houston, Texas – Most passengers are acquainted with a friendly pilot’s voice on the inboard com link, welcoming them aboard a flight.  A Southwest Air pilot, however, launched into a homophobic tirade on a stuck-open mic about gay employees and others in a rant that cost him a suspension, according to EDGE reports. In a March incident only now coming to light thanks to news reports by KRPC-TV, the pilot indulged himself in a series of epithets and slurs against gay people, older employees, and obese employees for two-and-a-half minutes, calling them (in the publishable portion of his rant), “gays, grannies, and grandes.”  Thinking he was only speaking to his co-worker, the pilot did not realize his microphone was on until informed that it was open and broadcasting by air traffic controllers in the tower.  A spokesperson for the airline informed media that the offending pilot was reprimanded and suspended without pay for an unspecified time period.  After a period of LGBTQ sensitivity training, he has been reinstated and is flying the skies again. Corporate and professional amnesia about the effects of homophobic speech and behavior on Southwest Air employees contributed to this regrettable incident.  Kenneth L. Cummings Jr., a longtime Southwest Air Flight Attendant, was brutally murdered by a religious zealot in June 2007.  The grisly slaughter culminated in Cummings’s tortured body being set afire in a shallow stock tank near Poteat, Texas in what his murderer called a “burnt offering to God.”  Southwest Air employees by the score aided in the search for Cummings in an effort co-ordinated by EquuSearch, and uniformed flight attendants, pilots, and company officers attended his funeral to honor him.  But how soon people forget.  Now a pilot in the same organization can rave on about gay people with little or no regard for their humanity, get a slap on the hand, some retraining, and then be put right back on the line, flying LGBTQ people among others to destinations around the world.  Unfinished Lives Team hopes he has learned something from this experience, beyond the old bromide that anything is okay so long as you don’t get caught.  Reports suggest that this pilot had to apologize to air traffic controllers and Southwest employees for his indiscretion as a part of his punishment.  A representative of the Southwest Airlines Employees Union is filing a discrimination complaint with the federal government concerning this matter.  Until then, fly carefully.  You never know who might be at the controls.

June 23, 2011 - Posted by | Anglo Americans, anti-LGBT hate crime murder, funerals, gay bashing, gay men, GLBTQ, Hate Crimes, hate speech, Heterosexism and homophobia, immolation, LGBTQ, Perpetrators of Hate Crime, religious hate speech, religious intolerance, Slurs and epithets, Social Justice Advocacy, Southwest Airlines, stabbings, Texas, Torture and Mutilation | , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

1 Comment

  1. Has the pilot’s name been released? If not, why not?

    Comment by MJ Kaska | June 25, 2011

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.

%d bloggers like this: