On December 17, a lesbian couple was allegedly assaulted by employees at The Nest, an upscale restaurant located in Shanghai’s famous waterfront, the Bund.
When 47-year-old Lisa Chang tried to use the women’s restroom, she was stopped by a female restaurant manager, who mistook her for a man. After Chang explained that she was female, the manager made homophobic slurs and shouted to Chang in Chinese, “I have seen plenty of people like you who looked like neither men nor women.”
Chang said that when she came out of the restroom stall, she saw the manager and at least six male security guards beating up her partner, Ms. Yuan, kicking, pulling her hair, and pinning her head to the ground. When Chang tried to break up the fight, she was assaulted, too.
On the night of the incident, the couple along with their female friends, the restaurant manager Nicole, and two other staff members went to the police station, only to be told to work things out themselves. The next day, the couple went through a series of medical exams, including a CT scan, at a local hospital.
Chang is a Chinese American who has been living in Shanghai since 2002 and her partner, Ms. Yuan, is Chinese. As a frequent customer of The Nest, Chang said, “I always feel safe in this city because I don’t usually go to unknown places. It’s unbelievable that we were beaten up just because we wanted to use the bathroom. I am very shocked.”
UPDATE, 12/23, 3:46 am EST: This flyer was circulated on WeChat on December 19:
Also on December 19, The Nest’s managing director and co-founder, Mark Klingspon, sent a statement to multiple media outlets:
I am investigating… it originates from one of our service managers following a customer into the ladies washroom on the misunderstanding that it was a man going into the wrong washroom (which CAN happen). The two stories diverge significantly. But my service manager shows evidence of physical beating. Regardless, I am sure that anyone that knows The Nest or our team or me… will know that there was no way that any of this unfortunate incident was fueled towards the LGBTQ community… we embrace all… and have members of this community amongst our team, our families, and our guests every night.
The restaurant released an official statement later that day: “The Nest is shocked and saddened to find allegations of a ‘hate crime’ circulating on social media today…. While there was a security incident on Sunday evening starting from a misunderstanding, the magnitude of the accusations requires a review that goes beyond the reports filed with the authorities by both parties on the night.”
The next day, December 20, Lisa Chang sent a statement to The Nest asking for a formal apology, refund of expenses, and indemnity for loss and mental distress. Chang met with The Nest’s management on Saturday, with no resolution.