In recent years, there has been a worrying rise in the levels of gay and lesbian harassment. In some cases, this can lead to violence and sometimes even death. But there are many things you can do to reduce the risk of being assaulted or harassed yourself. Here are four ways society can stop it from happening to you.
You can’t complain about it if you don’t report it
The only way to stop gay and lesbian harassment is to let someone know when it happens. This can be difficult and especially so in the case of same-sex harassment. For example, how should you react when a colleague says “Oh please, not that old line.” or “Don’t get me, wrong love, I just couldn’t do…”? Do these qualify as homophobic remarks? And if they do, should you say something? If it could lead to further insults, perhaps not. But even if there are no negative consequences to reporting a gay/lesbian insult at work, keep in mind that it still counts if no one knows about it because nobody reported it.
Do not label all men as harassers
Unfortunately, it is a sad reality that most of the gay and lesbian harassment is committed by heterosexuals or bisexuals. While some caution should be taken with all members of another group, this does mean you shouldn’t trust everyone. There are many more good guys than bad ones so don’t let your guard down just because someone looks harmless. At work for example, if no one seems to care about personal space, maybe they’re up to something.
Find the best form of self-defense for yourself
Each person has their degree of discomfort when it comes to intimacy (even between two people close in age) and there’s no shame in that. Not everyone is comfortable with an arm around their waist, and it’s even worse when the arm belongs to a stranger. So choose your weapon: a cute umbrella to keep them at bay or a little handheld fan if you want them to come closer. If only every day could be as great as those times you now look back on nostalgically…
Nothing is more important than good communication
In the heat of the moment, it can be very difficult to find words that properly convey your point. If you feel attacked, keep in mind that they might not even realize what they’re doing and that many of these people are probably acting on impulses at odds with their true intentions. Whether you choose to speak or act first (to defeat your opponent), make sure you do something because if nothing comes out of it at all, then there might never be the next time.
Remember that society will never change if we don’t all do something
If you don’t report harassment or insults, then no one else will know it’s happening. However small the gesture may seem, take a moment to pause and ask yourself: “Is this really what I want?” Almost everyone has at least once grumbled about being part of society because it means doing things you might not always like. But remember that you can influence society too. Take responsibility for your actions or inaction and find ways to make the world better soon.
Gay and lesbian harassment is wrong, but it can be prevented if people are aware of what’s going on. And besides, maybe the harasser won’t even realize they’re doing anything wrong. Therefore an open dialogue can often be the best way to solve this problem. So let your voice be heard.