Gay Man Says He was Arrested - for Wearing a Thong
A man is claiming that he is the first person in San Diego history to be arrested for public nudity for wearing a thong under a gladiator kilt during the city's gay pride event, the Courthouse News Service reported.
Will Walters says that the San Diego police "enforced a municipal policy on public nudity," which prohibits men from wearing thongs or G-strings but allows woman to wear the garments. He also said that San Diego Pride "wholeheartedly endorsed" the policy to "curry favor" with the authorities and to appeal the event's sponsors as well as straight people.
The man claims that police approached him while he was waiting in line for a drink and then forcibly removed him outside. Walters also says he tried to record what was happening to him but the event's security knocked his cell phone out of his hand. The complaint states that he refused to sign a citation, was handcuffed and then driven to jail.
Walters is taking his case to Federal Court and is suing the city as well as San Diego Pride.
"Will Walters is a Hispanic, gay man who owns the dubious distinction of being the only person in the history of the City of San Diego to be arrested and booked on a charge of public nudity," the complaint states. "Mr. Walters was arrested for public nudity at the 2011 Lesbian Gay Bi-Sexual Transgender Pride (’Pride’) event while wearing an opaque gladiator type kilt over black underwear. Under any definition, he was not nude, as his buttocks and genitalia were fully covered. Nonetheless, he was ushered out of the event, humiliated, arrested, and incarcerated."
Walters says that the law "essentially allows thongs, G-strings, and other skimpy bathing suits to be worn by participants and attendees at straight special events, but not by attendees and participants at the one gay special event, Pride." He adds that he was allowed to enter the event by San Diego Pride personnel without a problem.
"He was dressed in leather gear consisting of boots, a black leather gladiator kilt, black underwear, and a black leather harness with chrome rings. His outfit ostensibly passed muster with the Pride personnel manning the admission gates, as Pride personnel ushered him into the event. His underwear and kilt completely covered his genitals, pubic hair, buttocks, perineum, anus or anal region as required by San Diego Municipal Code Section S6.S3(c). Mr. Walters had invested a significant sum of money in his leather gear and took special care to insure that he was compliant with the rules for the event," the complaint says.
The complaint also says that San Diego County sheriff’s deputies told other inmates to "ridicule" Walters, who was only wearing his kilt and underwear. In addition, the authorities also made fun of Walters and refused to give him clothing or a blanket. Once Walters posted the $190 bail the jail provided him with clothes.
Walters says that the policy violates his rights under the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.
"The City of San Diego’s failure to curtail this selective enforcement and its subsequent ratification of Mr. Walters’ arrest, only serves to guarantee that this custom and policy will continue unabated. It is the enforcement of this disparate and unequal policy that resulted in the unlawful arrest and incarceration of Mr. Walters," the complaint states.
Walters is claiming compensatory and punitive damages for violations of the Fourteenth Amendment, false arrest, battery, negligence and violation of his civil rights.