DEAR ABBY: I am a 29-year-old gay man. In my community, coming out at work isn't an option. I really like my job and want to keep it. However, a female colleague is not only trying to persuade me that the two of us would make a good pair, but she has gotten all of our co-workers involved. I'm constantly pressured by my supervisor to "just go out with her and give her a chance."
I have already told everyone, including her, that I'm not interested in mixing my personal life with my professional one, and I want to come to work only to work -- not upgrade my marital status. However, because of my unwillingness to do what they "recommend," the pressure from everyone has gotten worse. I dread coming to the office.
Would it be unethical to hire a "girlfriend" to stop by the office next week to bring me my lunch? Maybe if I kiss and hug her as I say goodbye, my co-workers will finally back off. If not this, can you recommend something else? -- CAN'T COME OUT IN TEXAS
DEAR CAN'T COME OUT: You have described a classic example of sexual harassment and a hostile work environment. Your co-workers and supervisor may consider themselves to be "Cupid's helpers," but their actions could be the basis for a lawsuit. That you are gay has nothing to do with it. If you were straight and preferred not to involve yourself in an office romance that could turn out badly, or felt no chemistry with your aggressor, what is being done to you is intolerable. It's embarrassing and distracts you from your job.
Document everything. Go to your supervisor's boss if necessary and and state plainly that you need help to put a stop to this. You do not have to explain why you're not attracted to this desperate woman. If it isn't stopped, talk with an attorney.
I do not recommend hiring anyone to pose as a girlfriend, or you may have to put her under long-term contract, which could be expensive in more ways than one.