US: Sexual Harassment in the Workplace: LGBTQ Employees Come Forward

Jose Munoz, 27, said he still gets chills when he thinks about that day. It was five years ago. He was working at a well-known chain restaurant in Madison, Wisconsin, when he called for someone in the kitchen to bring in more soup. A 40-year-old man came, and Munoz watched as the man opened a bag of soup with a plastic cutter. The man then situated himself behind Munoz, who was at the register, and, Munoz said, slowly ran the cutter down his back.

"When he was touching me," Munoz said, "I remember thinking, 'Is this really happening?'" 

Munoz, who is openly gay, said he faked a smile and then told his female coworker what happened. Munoz said she hugged him and was angry. She immediately brought it up to the general manager. But Munoz said nothing happened to the man.

"There's this narrative, similar to what you'd tell a teenage boy if he were sexually harassed by a woman, 'You should like that,'" Munoz said. "It's a similar mentality for gay men."

The explosive New York Times and New Yorker reports on Hollywood magnate Harvey Weinstein's alleged abuse of several women initiated a national conversation about misogyny and sexual harassment.

Recently, survivors of sexual harassment and assault have taken to social media to share their stories with the hashtag #MeToo. The sheer volume of testimonies indicates this is a problem that extends far beyond the entertainment industry. 

And it isn't just cisgender (non-transgender) women sharing their stories of being abused by cisgender men, either. Most notably, actor and former NFL linebacker Terry Crews revealed on Twitter that he was a victim of sexual assault.Crews said he was at a Hollywood function with his wife when an executive groped him.

As society grapples with the pervasive issue of men sexually harassing women, people across the gender and sexuality spectrum have come forward to share their stories, too. Munoz was one person who came forward. Haley Marie Brown, a 23-year-old transgender woman, was another.

Her story started in 2015 in San Marcos, California, when she was working at an academic institution. The department in which she worked, which was dedicated to "gender equity," had recently hired a new assistant director. The person, whom Brown did not feel comfortable naming, identified as genderqueer and used they/them pronouns. This person, according to Brown, was "the last person to expect sexual harassment from."

It was around this time that Brown had begun transitioning and, as Brown put it, "developing a female shape." Brown said the new assistant director began to make unwelcome comments about her body.

"They ranged from comments about my voice to comments about my body shape," Brown said. "I could generally handle those, even if they were gross and invasive." But things got worse, Brown said, when she developed noticeable breasts. Read more via NBC