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David Waggoner — a 42-year-old, openly gay lawyer and former co-president of the Harvey Milk Club, a San Francisco democratic club for LGBTQ rights — has accused a popular Parisian restaurant and music venue of tolerating harassment against him and his transgender date after other customers started bothering them during a recent live music performance.
Last Saturday, Waggoner was on a date with Aimar Sahae, a queer transgender woman, at La Chope Des Puces, a restaurant and bar in Paris that regularly features musical performers, particularly jazz guitarists. Being fans of jazz, Waggoner and Sahae sat near the front of the performance area and claim that patrons began to harass them after they shared a few brief kisses intermittently throughout the night.
“We were not passionately making out. A woman began to ask Aimar if she is a man or woman and asked her why we were kissing. She then pulled on Aimar’s hair to see if it was real – Aimar has long hair. Meanwhile, the man who was with her started shaking his head in disgust at us. He then kicked Aimar’s chair.”
Sahae says that the woman called her a whore and began taunting her; she also says a man kicked her chair after she kissed Waggoner. When a waiter suggested that Waggoner and Sahae move tables, Waggoner refused to move and started yelling at the waiter because he felt that Sahae and he weren’t the problem. Waggoner had three drinks that night but claims he was in full control of himself and remembers the night clearly.
A restaurant worker told The Bay Area Reporter that Waggoner had too much to drink and says that all LGBTQ people are welcome at their restaurant. Waggoner and Sahae left the restaurant upset. Waggoner says that he began to cry afterwards. Both lament the fact that transgender people of color face harassment, hostility and mis-gendering even in supposedly open-minded cities like Paris.
In 2004, the French National Assembly passed hate crime legislation criminalizing anti-LGBTQ comments and harassment, though it’s unclear whether Waggoner and Sahae will pursue litigation against the restaurant.