Is wearing a underwear and a short “kilt” public nudity? If you're a 19-year-old woman, maybe not. But if you're a 30-year-old gay man … maybe so.
Southern California's Will Walters is threatening a lawsuit after he says he was arrested on suspicion of public nudity because he was wearing just such an outfit at a gay pride festival last summer. Contrary to reports his getup was more than a thong and a loin cloth. All nether regions were claimed to have been covered.
According to his legal claim, he was wearing a “gladiator-type kilt over black underwear:”
… He was not nude, as his buttocks and genitalia were fully covered. Nonetheless, he was ushered out of the event, humiliated, arrested and incarcerated.
It all happened at the July 16 San Diego LGBT Pride Festival in Balboa Park, according to the document. The claim seeks to prevent the San Diego Police Department from “selectively enforcing” the city's nudity statute:
Under this policy of selective enforcement, the San Diego Police Department allows women to wear G-strings and thong bathing suits at police monitored events on public land like the San Diego Over-The-Line Tournament, but does not allow gay men … to do the same.
The annual Over The Line tournament in Mission Bay indeed features an array of legal-adjacent skin. Not that we'd know. Let's just say tops have occasionally become temporary options for inebriated women. Needless to say, Walters has a point.
We reached out to the San Diego Police Department to get its side of the story but had yet to hear back.
Just in case you're not clear, the claim says:
His genitals, pubic hair, buttocks, perineum, anus or anal region were fully covered by opaque material …
Good to know.
The document says that after Walters entered a beer garden that day San Diego police Lt. Dave Nisleit told him his outfit was “borderline” legal. The claim says Walters talked back to him, informing him to leave him alone unless he was going to cite him. It says he had a similar encounter with a cop at the same event, with the same outfit on, in 2010.
After waiting in line for a drink, the claim says Walters was approached by a cop and told to leave. He didn't and he was removed, taken outside and arrested with, the document says, the help of Gay Pride security. (Burn).
Left in a patrol car at one point with the windows up and no air on, the claim says Walters complained only to be met with the comment “drama queen” by one officer.
The upshot is that, after a night in jail for Walters, the City Attorney's office, the claim says, declined to file charges.
The claim says that Walters' Fourth Amendment rights (protections against unreasonable searches and seizures) were violated.
It doesn't mention any possible monetary solution. Rather, the claim says, Walters threatens a federal civil rights case to “insure that this does not happen to another innocent, peaceful and compliant Pride attendee.”