Upon entering a federal office building in Van Nuys, California on August 25, Lapriss Gilbert was asked to leave by a security guard because he found her “lesbian.com” t-shirt offensive. In an interview with GO, Gilbert said she had no intention of drawing national attention when she got dressed to run errands that day.
“I can’t put into words how I felt,” said Gilbert. “I was like, are you serious?”
When Gilbert asked for explanation, she said the guard cited “The Rules and Regulations Governing Conduct on Federal Property,” and repeatedly told her that if she did not leave, she would be arrested. The document does not, in fact, reference appropriate attire, but does contain a nondiscrimination policy.
Gilbert called her mother Tanya, who quickly arrived on the scene. After speaking to the unrelenting guard, she then called the police. Before the LAPD arrived, a different guard escorted Gilbert into the building to conduct her business.
“I’m not looking for trouble, but when civil liberties are violated you have to stand up,” said Tanya Gilbert, who, with partner Lea, was among the first same-sex couples to be legally married in California. “It’s just a t-shirt,” she said, “but there are lessons about equality to be learned from this.”