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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!
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
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.
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.