Support for LAist comes from
We Explain L.A.
Stay Connected

Share This

This is an archival story that predates current editorial management.

This archival content was written, edited, and published prior to LAist's acquisition by its current owner, Southern California Public Radio ("SCPR"). Content, such as language choice and subject matter, in archival articles therefore may not align with SCPR's current editorial standards. To learn more about those standards and why we make this distinction, please click here.


It's Not Anti-Gay To Arrest A Man For Wearing A Leather Loincloth, Judge Rules

Before you
Dear reader, we're asking you to help us keep local news available for all. Your financial support keeps our stories free to read, instead of hidden behind paywalls. We believe when reliable local reporting is widely available, the entire community benefits. Thank you for investing in your neighborhood.

San Diego cops who arrested a man for wearing a leather loincloth were not anti-gay, according to a federal judge who tossed the man's civil rights lawsuit.In his lawsuit, William X. Walters also claimed that his loincloth did not violate the city's anti-nudity laws, which got him arrested in the first place. He claimed that women are still allowed to wear skimpy outfits such as g-strings and thongs at other outdoor events, but if a gay man does it, it's an arrestable offense, according to the Los Angeles Times.

Walters was reveling with other partygoers during San Diego Pride in Balboa Park while wearing a "gladiator-type leather loincloth" and a leather harness. When he was approached by cops and told to cover up, things got a little testy:

Walters' ordeal began when, he says, an officer injected himself into a conversation among himself, a photographer and a handful of others inside the beer garden. The group was discussing his leather outfit, after the photographer had completed an impromptu photo shoot of Walters. "[The cop] said, 'In my opinion, it's borderline illegal,'" Walters told San Diego LGBT Weekly.

According to Walters, the officer responded by saying, "I am the authority and my opinion is the only one that matters."

Walters refused to cover his outfit, saying to the cop, "So either cite me, arrest me, or leave me alone because I'm not interested in your opinion," according to the Times. As a result, Walters was arrested under the city's anti-nudity law.

But Walters technically wasn't naked—he was only wearing a very revealing and very kinky outfit that most likely would not look entirely out of place at a pride event.

Support for LAist comes from

Walters wasn't charged with any crime, but he sued the city, claiming that he was only targeted for being gay. Indeed, Walters may be the only San Diego resident who has been arrested under the anti-nudity law who wasn't technically naked, the Times says.

In judge Cathy Ann Bencivengo's ruling, the city did not act in a discriminatory fashion against Walters. "There is nothing on the record that reasonably suggests sexual orientation had anything to do with the decision" to ask Walters to cover up, Bencivengo said.

Bencivengo also wrote that while Walters' loincloth covered his naughty bits, his butt was exposed when a slight breeze blew by, therefore making it eligible under the city's anti-nudity law.

But Walters' lawyer, Chris Morris, plans on taking the case to the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals to try to win one for the beleaguered leather loincloth community.