Man Sues City of San Diego Over Gay Pride Thong Arrest

A San Diego man is suing the City of San Diego, several police officers, San Diego Pride, and head of Pride security, Shawn Chamberlain, seeking an injunction and compensatory and punitive damages for violations of the Fourteenth and Fourth Amendments, false arrest, battery, negligence and violation of his civil rights under California's Civil Code, Courthouse News Service reports:

SdprideWill X. Walters claims city police selectively enforced a municipal policy on public nudity, which allows women to wear g-strings and thongs, but not gay men.

Walters also claims that San Diego Pride "wholeheartedly endorsed" the policy, to "curry favor" with the police department, to appeal to mainstream sponsors, and to make the event palatable to straight people and families.    

"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 was reportedly told that his outfit – "leather gear consisting of boots, a black leather gladiator kilt, black underwear, and a black leather harness with chrome rings" – was "borderline" and says he was forcibly escorted out and had his phone knocked from his hand as he attempted to record the incident.

The complaint continues:

 "At the jail Mr. Walters was placed in a single cell visible to all inmates being checked in. San Diego County sheriffs deputies encouraged the incoming inmates to ridicule Mr. Walters, who was wearing only his kilt and underwear, and the deputies joined in the verbal harassment. In going from the hot environment of an overheated car to the air conditioned jail, Mr. Walters was chilled. The deputies refused Mr. Walters any additional clothing or a blanket. However, upon his release from jail, Mr. Walters was ordered to change into clothing provided by the jail. Mr. Walters was released from the jail at approximately 2:15 am, Sunday, July 17, 2011, after posting $190 bond. He had been given nothing to eat or drink since his arrest, some twelve hours prior."

Gay Man Sues for Thong Discrimination [courthouse news]

Posted March 13, 2012 at 9:35am ETC by Andy Towle
in Gay Pride, News, San Diego