QUESTIONS & ANSWERS:
Gay/Lesbian/Bisexual/Transgendered Department

Please remember, this column is designed to help the consumer seeking behavioral-health information, and not intended to be any form of psychotherapy or a replacement for professional, individualized services. Opinions expressed in the column are those of the columnist and do not represent the position of other SelfhelpMagazine.com staff.

Question

I've been out at work to my supervisor and coworkers for a long time with no problem. A new straight man just joined our department who is a problem. When he found out I'm a lesbian, he started telling me he can "fix" me by showing me what sex with a "real man" is like. Whenever no one else is around he starts panting and making other lewd noises and leering at me. I've told him to stop, and he got worse. I don't want to make trouble and I'm scared of losing my job, but I hate feeling scared and slimed on. Help!

Answer

I wish problems like yours were unusual. Unfortunately, some heterosexual men see women as nothing but sexual objects, and lesbians as particularly exciting sexual objects. Many lesbian women, I'm sorry to say, have had experiences similar to yours and have reported feelings like yours.

What your co-worker is doing is harassment. There are several ways to deal with it. You could start by reading a copy of your employer's policies and procedures on sexual harassment. You could describe the situation to someone you trust who is in a management position and ask for advice. Your employer's EEOC officer, Director of Human Resources or your supervisor would be logical choices. If these options do not feel safe, you might try contacting the Lambda Legal Defense at (212) 995-8585 or one of the other groups that specialize in gay and lesbian legal matters.

Your co-worker's behavior is unacceptable and should not be tolerated in your workplace.

03/13/98


Author and psychologist Gail S. Bernstein, Ph.D. has a psychotherapy practice in Denver, Colorado. Dr. Bernstein speaks and writes about gay, lesbian and bisexual people for both general and professional audiences, and is the author of the new audiotape, NOT HETEROSEXUAL: An Educational Program About Gay, Lesbian and Bisexual People.

 

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