58. Rostosky, S.S., & Riggle, E.D.B. (forthcoming, 2017). Same-sex couples relationship strengths: A review and synthesis of the empirical literature (2000-2016). Psychology of Sexual Orientation and Gender Diversity.
The centrality of close relationships to optimal human functioning has motivated some theorists to suggest that positive relationships form the “fourth pillar” of the positive psychology framework (Beach & Fincham, 2010). We used this conceptualization as the basis for a review and synthesis of the empirical literature on the strengths of same-sex couple relationships. We conducted a review of 66 empirical studies of U.S. samples that were published in peer-review journals from 2000-2016 to determine the relationship strengths that have been studied in same-sex couple relationships and to summarize the findings from these studies. These inter-related strengths were further organized into three relationship processes (respect and appreciation of individual differences, positive emotions and interactions, effective communication and negotiation) and four positive relationship characteristics (perceived intimacy, commitment, egalitarian ideals, and outness). We also reviewed studies of environmental resources (social support and marriage equality/legal relationship recognition), which provide evidence for the contribution to well-being of positive institutions, the third pillar of positive psychology. We note the general limitations of this literature and the opportunities for future research that will contribute to building a positive psychology of same-sex couple relationships.
57. Wickham, R.E., Beard, C.L., Riggle, E.D.B., Rothblum, E.D., Rostosky, S.S., & Balsam, K.F. (Fothcoming, 2016). Truth and Bias in Perceptions of Conflict Resolution Styles Among Same-Sex and Heterosexual. Journal of Research in Personality. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jrp.2016.10.004
Abstract: Intimates form stable impressions of their romantic partner’s conflict style, which may influence interactions during conflicts and shape expectancies regarding future disagreements. Despite a large body of work comparing relationship outcomes among heterosexual and same-sex couples, research has yet to examine how the validity of these perceptions vary as a function of gender and sexual orientation. The present study examines perceptual accuracy and bias in perceptions of conflict style among same-sex female (Ndyads = 215), same-sex male (Ndyads = 113), and heterosexual (Ndyads = 93) couples. Although members of same-sex and heterosexual couples exhibited some similarity in accuracy and bias in perceptions, a number of compelling differences suggest that the gender and the sexual orientation of a couple shape perceptions of partner conflict style.
56. Riggle, E.D.B., Rostosky, S.S., Black, W.W., & Rosenkranz, D. (Forthcoming, 2017). Outness, concealment, and authenticity: Associations with LGB individuals’ psychological distress and well-being. Psychology of Sexual Orientation and Gender Diversity.
Abstract: Outness, concealment, and authenticity have all been theorized to be important to LGB (lesbian, gay, bisexual) well-being and psychological outcomes. Using a sample of 373 LGB participants, the current study tests the unique contributions of each of these constructs to outcomes measuring psychological well-being, depressive symptoms, and perceived stress. Hierarchical regressions revealed that increased outness was a significant predictor of increased depressive symptoms (counter to the hypothesis but consistent with prior research suggesting that being out may increase risk for experiencing discrimination and minority stress and thus depressive symptoms). Higher levels of LGB-specific concealment were significantly associated with lower psychological well-being and more depressive symptoms. Higher levels of LGB-specific authenticity were significantly associated with higher psychological well-being, fewer depressive symptoms, and lower levels of perceived stress. We suggest that future research on psychological outcomes look beyond outness (and disclosure) to consider more fully the negative impact of actively concealing LGB identities and the contribution of positive identity factors such as authenticity. Public significance statement: The present study suggests that concealing LGB identity may be associated with increased risk of depression and lower psychological well-being. Having a sense of authenticity as an LGB person may help to decrease depressive symptoms, lower stress, and enhance psychological well-being. It is important to remember that disclosing or being “out” about one’s LGB identity can increase exposure to experiences of discrimination, which may create a risk for depression.
55. Riggle, E.D.B., Wickham, R.E., Rostosky, S.S., Rothblum, E.D., & Balsam, K.F. (online 2016). Impact of civil marriage recognition for long-term same-sex couples. Sexuality Research and Social Policy. DOI: 10.1007/s13178-016-0243-z
Abstract (not final until publication): Many same-sex couples had already established long-term relationships prior to the availability of civil marriage rights in the U.S. The impact and possible benefits of marriage and marriage recognition for long-term couples was tested using data from a sample of couple members: 307 in a civil marriage and 50 with no legal relationship status. The reported study was conducted prior to marriage recognition in all U.S. states and tests the associations of marital status and living in a state that recognized civil marriages of same-sex couples with self-reports of positive and negative LGB (Lesbian, Gay, and Bisexual) identity, social support, and daily discrimination. Dyadic regression analyses revealed that participants in a civil marriage reported higher levels of LGB identity centrality and support from partner. Residing in a state that recognized civil marriage was associated with lower levels of LGB identity concealment, a less difficult process accepting one’s LGB identity, and less vigilance and isolation. Results are discussed in terms of the benefits of long-term relationships and the impact of socio-historical context and marriage policy on same-sex relationships.
54. Rostosky, S.S., & Riggle, E.D.B. (2017). Same-sex relationships and minority stress. Current Opinions in Psychology. See article.
53. Balsam, K.F., Rostosky, S.S., & Riggle, E.D.B. (Forthcoming, 2017). Breaking up is hard to do: Women’s experience of dissolving their same-sex relationship. Journal of Lesbian Studies, 21(1).
Abstract: While prior research has compared same-sex to heterosexual relationships, very little attention has been paid to the unique experiences of women dissolving same-sex relationships, especially in the context of shifting legal and social policies. The current study examined the experience of twenty women who dissolved their same-sex relationship between 2002 and 2014. Participants were drawn from a longitudinal sample of same-sex and heterosexual couples and were interviewed using a semi-structured protocol. Interviews focused on three primary research questions: reasons for dissolution, emotional reactions, and role of legal status. While reasons for dissolution largely mirrored literature on women in heterosexual relationships, emotional reactions and the role of legal status were both influenced by sexual minority-specific factors related to minority stress and the recent societal changes pertaining to legal relationship recognition. Results are interpreted in a framework of minority stress and the ongoing legacy of institutional discrimination experienced by women in same-sex relationships.
52. Rostosky, S.S., Abreu, R.L., Mahoney, A., & Riggle, E.D.B. (Forthcoming). A Qualitative Study of Parenting and Religiosity/Spirituality in LBGTQ Families. Psychology of Religion and Spirituality.
Abstract (not final until published): Considerable research has examined reciprocal ties between religiosity/spirituality (R/S) and parenting within families headed by heterosexual married and single parents (Mahoney, 2010). Yet, no systematic studies have explored interlinkages between parenting and R/S within families headed by lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) identified parents, despite evidence of the importance of R/S in the lives of LGBTQ people (Herek, Norton, Allen, & Sims, 2010). We asked LGBTQ participants (N = 75) in an online survey to describe how their religious and/or spiritual identity or beliefs influenced their parenting. Three primary themes emerged from analysis of the responses. LGBTQ parents used religiosity/spirituality to: (a) teach their children beliefs and values; (b) facilitate spiritual dialogue and critical thinking so that their children could make informed decisions about R/S; and (c) provide a sense of belonging to a community and connections to others and/or a higher power. These findings suggest that, similar to heterosexual parents, LGBTQ parents draw on their religious and spiritual identity, values, and resources to support their children’s R/S development. The findings also highlight the unique motivations and strategies that LGBTQ parents use to facilitate their children’s R/S development within a social context that stigmatizes their family.
51. Rosenkrantz, D.E., Rostosky, S.S., Riggle, E.D.B., & Cook, J. (2016). The positive aspects of intersecting religious/spiritual and LGBTQ identities. Spirituality in Clinical Practice.
Abstract: Religion and spirituality are positive resources in the lives of many individuals (Pargament, Mahoney, Shafranske, Exline, & Jones, 2013). While much of the existing research on the intersection of religious/spiritual and LGBTQ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer) identities has focused on conflicts in these identities (Fontenot, 2013), a growing number of studies suggest that religious/spiritual LGBTQ people experience positive aspects similar to those emphasized in the general literature. We sought to extend previous findings by asking LGBTQ participants (N = 314) to describe the positive aspects of identifying as both religious/spiritual and LGBTQ. Qualitative analysis revealed that the positive aspects were characterized by five themes: (a) Love and Acceptance for one’s LGBTQ identity; (b) Deeper Meaning and Purpose due to having an LGBTQ perspective; (c) Empathy, Openness, and Compassionate Action rooted in LGBTQ identity and a passion to actively live religious/spiritual values; (d) Positive Relationships with families, partners and communities based in a shared religious/spiritual identity and authentic expression of LGBTQ identity; and, (e) Spiritual Strength for coming out and coping with sexual or gender identity stigma and prejudice. Participants’ responses suggest that religious/spiritual and LGBTQ identities interact in ways that synergistically enhance each other and may provide an important source of strength and support that can be mobilized in clinical practice.
50. Riggle, E.D.B., Rothblum, E.D., Rostosky, S.S., Clark, J.B., & Balsam, K.F. (2016). ‘The secret of our success’: Long-term same-sex couples’ perceptions of their relationship longevity. Journal of GLBT Family Studies.
Abstract: Long-term same-sex couples have maintained relationships within a socio-political environment that has historically stigmatized and provided little or no legal recognition for their relationship. In a qualitative interview study about relationships, 31 same-sex couples, in relationships lasting from 13 to 41 years ( mean length 22.6 years), were asked to discuss their perceptions of the factors or strengths they have as a couple that contributes to the “success” or longevity of their committed relationship. All couples were in legally recognized relationships (21 married, 10 in civil unions). Thematic analyses of the responses revealed six themes summarizing the lived experiences that couples perceived as contributing to their relationship longevity: Communication; Similarities in Values; Complementary Similarities and Differences; Sharing Experiences; Commitment to the Relationship; and, Support from Others. These themes are illustrated with quotes from couple discussions and discussed in the context of long-term committed relationships. The implications of the findings for future study of longevity of same-sex couple relationships and within a conceptual framework of commitment are discussed.
49. Rostosky, S.S., Riggle, E.D.B., Rothblum, E.D., Balsam, K.F., & Clark, J.B. (2016). Same-sex couples’ decisions and experiences of marriage in the context of minority stress. Journal of Homosexuality.
In the emerging context of marriage equality, it is important to explore the reasons for and experience of marriage for longterm same-sex couples, including the role of minority stress. In Wave 3 of the population-based, longitudinal CUPPLES Study we interviewed 21 long-term same-sex couples (14 female, 7 male) who resided in 12 different states and who were legally married. Couple members ranged in age from 37 to 84 and reported being together as a couple from 15 to 41 years. Seven couples lived in states that did not recognize their marriage at the time of the interview. Legal protection and social validation emerged as the two primary domains that captured couples’ lived experiences of marriage. Minority stress experiences emerged in the narratives in the context of couples’ longterm commitment, the availability of civil marriage, and couples’ participation in activist efforts on behalf of marriage equality for themselves and others.
48. Gonzalez, K. A., Riggle, E. D. B., & Rostosky, S. S. (2016). Cultivating positive attitudes and feelings as an alternative path to prejudice reduction. Translational Issues in Psychological Science.
Abstract (not final until published): Intergroup prejudice negatively impacts all individuals in a society. Past research has primarily focused on how to reduce intergroup prejudice, especially prejudice held by members of privileged groups against members of stigmatized groups. In this article, we briefly summarize the literature on several effective prejudice reduction techniques. Then, we present an argument for expanding current research by complementing reduction of negative feelings and attitudes with cultivating positive feelings and attitudes toward stigmatized outgroups. Functional distinctions between positive and negative feelings and attitudes point to the ally development literature as a source of inspiration for creating new interventions. We give examples of practical interventions suggested by this expanded conceptual framework, including increasing knowledge and understanding of stigmatized groups, focusing on values, increasing understanding of privilege and its role in oppression, and cultivating empathy. These interventions focus on cultivating positive views of stigmatized outgroups as a basis for prejudice reduction as well as behavioral support. Directions for future research are suggested to test these positive ally-based strategies for ending stigma and promoting positive intergroup relations and well-being in communities.
47. Clark, J.B., Riggle, E.D.B., Rostosky, S.S., Balsam, K.F., & Rothblum, E.D. (2015). Windsor and Perry: Reactions of siblings in same-sex and heterosexual couples. Journal of Homosexuality, 62(8).
The U.S. Supreme Court decisions in U.S. v Windsor (570 U.S. 307) and Hollingsworth v Perry (570 U.S. 399) created a focal point for public discussion of marriage equality for same-sex couples. This article reports the results of an exploratory study of the reactions of individuals currently or previously in same-sex couple relationships and a heterosexual sibling who is currently or previously married (N = 371) to the Supreme Court decisions. Thematic content analysis was used to explore participants’ responses to an open-ended question on a survey. Reactions of individuals from same-sex couples revealed the following themes: (1) longitudinal perspectives on the advancement of rights for same-sex couples; (2) emotional responses celebrating the decisions or expressing relief; (3) affirmation of their relationship or rights; (4) practical consequences of the extension of rights; and, (5) minority stress related to anticipation of future prejudice or discrimination. Themes in the heterosexual siblings’ responses were: (1) ally support; (2) flat support without emotion or elaboration; (3) indifference to or ignorance about the decisions; and, (4) disapproval of the decisions. These themes are compared and discussed in light of prior research on reactions to marriage restriction debates and marriage (in)equality and family relationships.
46. Rostosky, S.S., Black, W.W., Riggle, E.D.B., & Rosenkrantz, D. (2015). Positive aspects of being a heterosexual ally to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people. American Journal of Orthopsychiatry.
45. Rostosky, S.S. & Riggle, E.D.B. (2015). Happy Together: Thriving as a Same-sex Couple in Your Family, Workplace, and Community. Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.
Click the link above for more information about Happy Together.
44. Riggle, E.D.B., & Mohr, J.J. (2015). A proposed multi-factor structure of positive identity for transgender identified individuals. Psychology of Sexual Orientation and Gender Diversity, 2(1).
This article describes the development of a measure proposing a multifactor structure of positive identity for self-identified transgender individuals. Data from 138 transgender-identified individuals were used in an exploratory factor analysis (EFA) of 95 statements in an item pool presented in an online survey. The resulting structure suggests a 5-factor solution with subscales interpreted as representing authenticity, intimacy and relationships, belonging to the LGBT community, commitment to social justice and compassion, and insights and self-awareness. An EFA of the reduced scale indicated good fit for a 24-item, 5-factor measure with strong internal consistency for each set of subscale scores. The final proposed measure is titled Transgender Positive Identity Measure (T-PIM). The current study suggests that the factors in positive identity for transgender-identified individuals are consistent with thematic analyses in prior qualitative research and the positive identity concepts represented in positive lesbian, gay, and bisexual identities. Knowledge of this structure may be useful for researchers and practitioners in the evaluation and support of efforts to enhance the well-being of self-identified transgender individuals. Future research on the validity of subscale scores is recommended.
43. Riggle, E.D.B., Mohr, J.J., Rostosky, S.S., Fingerhut, A.W., & Balsam, K.F. (2014). A multi-factor Lesbian, Gay, and Bisexual Positive Identity Measure (LGB-PIM). Psychology of Sexual Orientation and Gender Diversity, 1(4).
This article describes the development of a measure of positive lesbian, gay, and/or bisexual (LGB) identity. Two studies were conducted to, first, establish the factor structure of the Lesbian, Gay, and Bisexual Positive Identity Measure (LGB-PIM), and second, test the reliability and validity of the resulting 25-item scale. Study 1 provided data for an exploratory factor analysis (EFA) with 264 self-identified “male” or “female” individuals who also identified as lesbian, gay, and/or bisexual (MF-LGB). The resulting structure was subjected to a confirmatory factor analysis (CFA) with the remaining sample of 360 MF-LGB identified individuals and supported a 5-factor solution with subscales representing self-awareness, authenticity, intimate relationships, belonging to the LGBT community, and commitment to social justice. Test-retest correlations and internal consistency provided evidence of reliability for the LGB-PIM. Study 2 provided evidence of validity, with the subscales showing the hypothesized positive correlations with measures of positive well-being and group specific measures corresponding to the subscale concepts. The current studies indicate that positive identity is multifaceted and may be useful to consider in research with LGB populations. The results also suggest to researchers and practitioners the dimensions of positive LGB identity that may need to be assessed and supported to cultivate positive well-being for LGB identified individuals.
42. Riggle, E.D.B., Gonzalez, K., Rostosky, S.S., & Black, W. W. (2014). Cultivating positive LGBTQA identities: An intervention study with college students. Journal of LGBT Issues in Counseling.
A brief intervention exercise focusing on positive experiences of LGBTQA young adults was hypothesized to increase positive LGBTQA identity, collective self-esteem, and individual self-esteem. Participants (N = 52) completed a pre-test, listened to a presentation on positive LGBTQA identities, and wrote personal narratives related to their own experiences. Participants then completed post-test and one month follow-up surveys. Findings indicated that scores on all three outcomes significantly increased between the pre- and post-test but returned to baseline levels when re-assessed one month later. Future research should explore ways to enhance the long term impact of positive identity interventions on LGBTQA well-being.
41. Cook, J., Rostosky, S.S., & Riggle, E.D.B. (2013). Gender role models in award – winning fiction for young lesbians. Journal of Lesbian Studies, 17, 150-166. DOI: 10.1080/10894160.2012.691416
Novels provide role models for young adult lesbians and thus may influence their identity development. This study focused on 16 lesbian protagonists identified in 11 young adult novels that received 2011 Lambda Literary Award nominations. Content analyses revealed six themes. Three themes defied traditional gender stereotypes: Asserting Oneself, Pursuing Intimacy with Another Woman, and Breaking Free of Constraints to Authentic Self-Expression. Three themes reinforced gender stereotypes: Negative Emotional Experiences Associated with Lesbian Identity, Traditional Masculine Gender Expression, and Traditional Gender Role-Based Sexual Scripts. Each theme is discussed in light of its possible contribution to lesbian identity development.
40. Gonzalez, K.A., Rostosky, S.S., Odom, R.D., & Riggle, E.D.B. (2012). The positive aspects of being the parent of an LGBTQ child. Family Process, x, 1-13. doi: 10.1111/famp.12009
Parenting an LGBTQ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, or queer) identified child presents unique opportunities for growth and development. This study focused on self-reported perceptions of the positive aspects of being the parent of an LGBTQ child. Participants (N = 142) were mothers (83.8%) and fathers (16.2%) of LGBTQ identified individuals who responded to an open-ended online survey. Thematic analysis revealed five primary themes: Personal Growth (open mindedness, new perspectives, awareness of discrimination, and compassion), Positive Emotions (pride and unconditional love), Activism, Social Connection, and Closer Relationships (closer to child and family closeness). The practice implications of these findings for supporting parents in envisioning positive relationship outcomes for themselves and their children are highlighted in the discussion.
39. Almario, M., Riggle, E.D.B., Rostosky, S.S., & Alcalde, M.C. (2013). Positive themes in LGBT self-identities in Spanish-speaking countries. International Perspectives in Psychology, 2(1), 1-13.
Positive self-identity is an important component of well-being. For lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender/transsexual (LGBT)-identified individuals in Spanish-speaking countries, forming and maintaining a positive identity is important to countering the negative impact of minority stress. An online survey collected self-reported data from participants in 15 Spanish-speaking countries (n = 121). Qualitative thematic analysis revealed eight positive identity themes: personal insight and strong sense of self; strong connections with family and friends; belonging to a community and being a role model for others; authenticity and honesty; involvement in social justice activism; freedom from gender-prescribed roles and to explore sexual expression and different types of relationships; empathy and compassion for others, including an awareness of prejudice toward others; and irrelevance or neutrality of sexual or gender identities. These findings suggest that people across nationalities may have similar experiences of positive identity and well-being related to their sexual and gender identities. Community leader- and counselor-facilitated interventions that empower LGBT individuals and groups are discussed as opportunities for enhancement of well-being through engagement and activism.
38. Riggle, E.D.B., & Rostosky, S.S. (2012). A positive view of LGBTQ: Embracing identity and cultivating well-being. Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield.
For more information, click on the Positive View link at the top of the page.
37. Fingerhut, A.W., Riggle, E.D.B., & Rostosky, S.S. (Eds., 2011). Issue: Marriage Amendments and the Same-Sex Marriage Debate. Journal of Social Issues, 67(2).
36. Fingerhut, A.W., Riggle, E.D.B., & Rostosky, S.S. (2011). Marriage amendments and the same-sex marriage debate: The social, psychological, and policy implications. Journal of Social Issues, 67(2), 225-241.
35. Horn, S.G., Rostosky, S.S., & Riggle, E.D.B. (2011). Marriage restriction amendments and family members of lesbian, gay, and bisexual individuals: A mixed-method approach. Journal of Social Issues, 67(2), 358-375.
34. Rostosky, S.S., & Riggle, E.D.B. (2011). Marriage equality for same-sex couples: Counseling psychologists as social change agents. The Counseling Psychologist, 39(7), 956-972.
The denial of civil marriage rights is a specific example of minority stress that can negatively affect the psychosocial well-being of self-identified lesbian, gay, bisexual, trangender, and queer (LGBTQ) individuals in same-sex partnerships, their families, and their allies. Counseling psychologists have an important role in addressing the minority stress that same-sex couples experience as a result of the lack of marriage equality. In the service of social justice, counseling psychologists can use their training as practitioners, advocates, and researchers to effectively intervene at multiple levels of the ecological system. The purpose of this practice forum is to suggest interventions at the micro-, meso-, and macro-level that support the goal of social justice for same-sex couples and their families.
33. Riggle, E.D.B., Rostosky, S.S., McCants, L.E., & Pascale-Hague, D. (2011). The positive aspects of transgender self-identification. Psychology & Sexuality, 2, 147-158.
Research to date has primarily focused on health risks, psychopathologies and negative life experiences with little attention to the positive aspects of identifying as transgender. An online survey collected data on self-reports of the positive aspects of a transgender identity (n = 61). Qualitative thematic analysis revealed 8 positive identity themes: congruency of self; enhanced interpersonal relationships; personal growth and resiliency; increased empathy; a unique perspective on both sexes; living beyond the sex binary; increased activism; and connection to the GLBTQ communities. These findings are compared to previous research on the positive aspects of gay, lesbian and bisexual identities. The implications of these findings for providing strength-based therapeutic approaches and training counsellors to be culturally competent with transgender identified clients are discussed.
32. Rostosky, S.S., Riggle, E.D.B., Pascale-Hague, D., & McCants, L.E. (2010). The positive aspects of a bisexual self-identification. Psychology & Sexuality, 1, 131-144. DOI: 10.1080/19419899.2010.484595.
Bisexual clients (Page, 2007) and LGB affirmative therapists (Godfrey et al., 2006) agree that facilitating a positive identity is one of the most important therapeutic tasks. However, the task of achieving a positive identity may be particularly challenging for bisexual identified individuals (Rust, 2002). To assist in this effort, the authors conducted an on-line survey that asked bisexual identified individuals to respond to an open-ended question about the positive aspects of a bisexual identity. Findings from an international sample of 157 adult participants (age 18-69; 67% female; 25% Canadian; 19% British; 51% American; 5% other) revealed 11 positive identity aspects: freedom from social labels, honesty and authenticity, having a unique perspective, increased levels of insight and awareness, freedom to love without regard for sex/gender, freedom to explore relationships, freedom of sexual expression, acceptance of diversity, belonging to a community, understanding privilege and oppression, and becoming an advocate/activist. Each of these positive aspects is illustrated with quotes from participants. The authors offer suggestions for incorporating these findings in bisexual affirmative counselling and therapy.
31. Riggle, E.D.B., Rostosky, S.S., & Horne, S.G. (2010). Does it matter where you live? State non-discrimination laws and the perceptions of LGB residents. Sexuality Research and Social Policy, 7, 168-172.
Non-discrimination policies are intended to prohibit discrimination on the basis of specified characteristics. It is also argued that they send a message to minority groups that they are protected and welcomed within that jurisdiction. This study tested the latter supposition by exploring whether lesbian, gay and bisexual (LGB) residents of states with non-discrimination policies that included sexual orientation perceived a more positive and less negative environment, more social support, and experienced less minority stress. An online survey of 2511 LGB individuals confirmed that inclusive non-discrimination policies are positively associated with perceptions of fewer negative messages and more positive messages in the environment, higher levels of disclosure of sexual identity and social support, and lower levels of internalized homophobia. The implications of these findings for policy as well as the limitations of the data are discussed.
30. Rostosky, S.S., Riggle, E.D.B., Horne, S.G., Denton, F.N., & Huellemeier, J.D. (2010). Lesbian, Gay, and Bisexual Individuals’ Psychological Reactions to Amendments Denying Access to Civil Marriage. American Journal of Orthopsychiatry, 80, 302-310.
Political campaigns to deny same-sex couples the right to civil marriage have been demonstrated to increase minority stress and psychological distress in Lesbian, Gay, and Bisexual (LGB) individuals (Rostosky, Riggle, Horne, & Miller, 2009). To further explicate the psychological reactions of LGB individuals to marriage amendment campaigns, we conducted a content analysis of open-ended responses from 300 participants in a national on-line survey that was conducted immediately following the November 2006 election. LGB individuals indicated that they felt indignant about discrimination; distressed by the negative rhetoric surrounding the campaigns; fearful and anxious about protecting their relationships and families; blaming of institutionalized religion, ignorance, conservative politicians, and the ineffective political strategies used by LGBT organizers; hopeless and resigned; and finally, hopeful, optimistic, and determined to keep fighting for justice and equal rights. These seven themes are illustrated and discussed in light of their implications for conceptualizing and intervening to address discrimination and its negative psychological effects.
29. Horne, S.G., Rostosky, S.S., Riggle, E.D.B., & Martens, M. (2010). What was Stonewall? The Role of GLB Knowledge in Marriage Amendment-Related Affect and Activism among Family Members of GLB Individuals. Journal of GLBT Family Studies, 6, 349-364.
Drawing on sexual identity development theory and interpersonal contact theory, this study explored GLB-knowledge and GLB internalized affirmation as mediators of connection to GLB community and outcomes including negative marriage amendment-related affect and level of activism among family members of GLB individuals (N = 206). Using structural equation modeling, knowledge of GLB history and symbols mediated the relationship between the connection of family members to GLB community and negative marriage amendment affect as well as reported GLB activism. Although GLB connection positively predicted internalized affirmation, a mediating relationship was not found. The findings suggest family members who engage with GLB issues beyond interpersonal contact and self-disclosure to encompass a broad civil rights perspective on GLB rights are most negatively impacted by marriage amendments in terms of affect and are most likely to engage in GLB-specific activism. Implications of the findings are discussed.
28. Rostosky, S.S., Danner, F., & Riggle, E.D.B. (2010). An examination of religiosity as a protective factor against heavy episodic drinking (HED) in heterosexual, bisexual, gay and lesbian emerging adults. Journal of Homosexuality, 57, 1039-1050.
Although religiosity has been shown to be associated with positive outcomes in studies of general population samples, few studies have considered the potential differential effect of religiosity on those who are consolidating gay, lesbian, or bisexual (GLB) identities. Logistic regression analyses using a sample of 13,038 emerging adults from the National Longitudinal Survey of Adolescent Health (Add Health) revealed main effects for religiosity and a significant religiosity x sexual identity interaction in women. Specifically, religiosity was protective against alcohol use and heavy episodic drinking (HED) in heterosexual women, but not lesbian women. In bisexual women, higher religiosity increased the odds of alcohol use and HED. Among men, religiosity was protective, with no differential effects based on sexual identity. Prevention efforts should consider that individual religiosity may be a risk, rather than protective factor for some young adults.
27. Reeves, T., Horne, S.G., Rostosky, S.S., Riggle, E.D.B., Baggett, L.R., & Aycock, R.A, (2010). Family members’ support for GLBT issues: The role of family adaptability and cohesion. Journal of GLBT Family Studies, 6, 80-97.
Families who are balanced in cohesion and adaptability are often able to function better than unbalanced families. This study hypothesized that heterosexual family members who report their family adaptability and/or cohesion to be balanced rather than unbalanced would have more contact with their GLBT family member, report more GLBT friends, family members, and GLBT acquaintances, as well as have more favorable attitudes toward and greater knowledge of GLBT issues. This study explored family environment (adaptability and cohesion as assessed by FACES III) of 136 family members of GLBT individuals and knowledge and attitudes (assessed by the Lesbian, Gay, and Bisexual Knowledge and Attitudes Scale for Heterosexuals; LGB-KASH). Participants reporting balanced adaptability in their families reported having more contact with the GLBT family member and more GLBT acquaintances than participants reporting unbalanced adaptability in their families. Participants from more balanced cohesive families reported more GLBT friends and family members, more knowledge about GLBT issues, and more internalized affirmation than participants reporting unbalanced cohesion. Participants from families balanced in both cohesion and adaptability reported more contact with GLBT family members, more GLBT friends and family members, more GLBT acquaintances, more knowledge about GLBT issues, and more internalized affirmation than participants reporting either unbalanced cohesion or adaptability in their families. Implications for counseling are discussed.
26. Riggle, E.D.B., Rostosky, S.S., & Horne, S.G. (2010). Psychological distress, well-being, and legal recognition in same-sex couple relationships. Journal of Family Psychology, 24, 82-86.
Legal recognition of same-sex couple relationships provides at least some material benefits to couple members; however, few studies have examined the associations between legal recognition and psychological distress or well-being. Using an online survey sample of 2677 LGB individuals, participants were placed in 4 groups: single, dating, in a committed relationship, and in a legally recognized relationship. Analyses revealed that participants in committed or legally recognized relationships reported less psychological distress (i.e., internalized homophobia, depressive symptoms and stress) and more well-being (i.e., the presence of meaning in life) than single participants. Significant group differences and multivariate analyses indicated that participants in a legally recognized relationship reported less internalized homophobia, fewer depressive symptoms, lower levels of stress, and more meaning in their lives than those in committed relationships, even after controlling for other factors. The need for further research on the psychological benefits of legal relationship recognition for same-sex couples is discussed.
25. Riggle, E.D.B., Rostosky, S.S., & Horne, S.G. (2009). Marriage Amendments and Lesbian, Gay, and Bisexual Individuals in the 2006 Election. Sexuality Research and Social Policy, 6, 80-89.
Over half of U.S. states have passed amendments to their constitutions effectively excluding same-sex couples from civil marriage. The impact of these ballot initiatives and debates on lesbian, gay, and bisexual (LGB) individuals has been under-researched. Extending prior research on ballot initiatives as well as research on LGB groups, this study hypothesized that in states with ballot initiatives LGB individuals would report exposure to more negative messages, report more negative psychological distress, and engage in higher rates of political activities, (i.e., voting and LGB activism). Results from a national cross-sectional online survey of 1849 LGB participants conducted post-election in November, 2006, supported these hypotheses.
24. Rostosky, S.S., Riggle, E.D.B., Horne, S.G., & Miller, A.D. (2009). Marriage Amendments and Psychological Distress in Lesbian, Gay and Bisexual (LGB) Adults. Journal of Counseling Psychology, 56, 56-66.
An on-line survey of lesbian, gay, and bisexual (LGB) adults (N = 1552) examined minority stress (Meyer, 2003) and psychological distress following the 2006 general election in which constitutional amendments to limit marriage to one man and one woman were on the ballot in nine states. Following the November election, participants living in states that passed a marriage amendment reported significantly more minority stress (i.e., exposure to negative media messages and negative conversations, negative amendment-related affect, and LGB activism) and higher levels of psychological distress (negative affect, stress, and depressive symptoms) than participants living in the other states. Multiple hierarchical regression analyses revealed significant positive main effects of minority stress factors and state ballot status on psychological distress. In addition, the association between amendment-related affect and psychological distress was significantly higher in states that had passed a marriage amendment compared to other states. Discussion of these findings emphasizes that marriage amendments create an environment associated with negative psychological outcomes for LGB individuals.
23. Riggle, E.D.B., Rostosky, S.S., & Danner, F. (2009). LGB identity and eudaimonic well-being in midlife. Journal of Homosexuality, 56, 786-98.
Eudaimonic well-being refers to personal growth and having purpose and meaning in life. High levels of eudaimonic well-being facilitate a positive life experience. The National Survey of Midlife Development in the United States (MIDUS) data was used to test a model predicting eudaimonic well-being as a function of sexual identity. Reporting a lesbian, gay or bisexual (LGB) identity was associated with lower eudaimonic well-being scores. Results also indicated that perceived daily discrimination, being female and having less education were associated with lower eudaimonic well-being; racial/ethnic minority status was associated with increased eudaimonic well-being. These results are discussed in light of recent scholarship on understanding and promoting the well-being of sexual minority individuals.
22. Rostosky, S.S., Riggle, E.D.B., Brodnicki, C., & Olson, A. (2009). An exploration of lived religion in same-sex couple relationships Judeo-Christian religions. Family Process, 47, 389-403.
Religiosity has been found to be associated with higher relational quality among heterosexually married individuals (Mahoney et al, 1999). Little is known, however, about the religiosity of nonheterosexual individuals, and virtually nothing is known about religiosity in same-sex couples. The purpose of this qualitative interview study was to examine couples’ experiences of incorporating religiosity/spirituality into their committed relationships. In a
purposive sample of 14 same-sex couples, we found that couples used their spiritual/religious values to understand and undergird their relationships. In this process, they negotiated intra-couple differences in religious practices, involved themselves in activities that have religious or spiritual meaning to them, created religious social support for their relationships, and experienced some non-supportive or rejecting interpersonal interactions with religious family members, congregants, and strangers. The limitations of the study are discussed. The findings are instructive to therapists who work with same-sex couples and the family members of GLB individuals. We conclude with specific suggestions for practitioners.
21. Rostosky, S.S., Riggle, E.D.B., Savage, T., Couch, J.R., Roberts, S.D., & Singletary, G. (2008). Interracial same-sex couples’ perceptions of stress and coping: An exploratory study. Journal of GLBT Family Studies, 4, 1-23.
Thirteen interracial same-sex couples (8 male, 5 female) participated in a 30-minute dyadic conversation focused on perceptions of stress and coping in their relationship. A qualitative analysis of the transcribed conversations revealed that the majority of couples experienced both race-related and sexual identity-related stress. Almost half of the couples perceived that their identities as same-sex couples were the source of more stress than their identities as interracial couples. Across the full sample, couples described using 5 coping strategies including seeking support, meaning-making, using humor, active problem-solving and avoidance. Implications for future research and culturally competent practice are discussed.
20. Rostosky, S.S., Danner, F., & Riggle, E.D.B. (2008). Religiosity and Alcohol Use in Sexual Minority and Heterosexual Youth and Young Adults. Journal of Youth and Adolescence, 37, 552-563.
19. Riggle, E.D.B., Whitman, J., Olson, A., Rostosky, S.S., & Strong, S. (2008). The Positive Aspects of Being a Lesbian or Gay Man. Professional Psychology: Research and Practice, 39 (2), 210—217.
The need to provide culturally competent training for counseling gay men and lesbians (as well as other sexual minorities) is limited by the relative scarcity of research. Extant research has focused on psychopathologies and negative life experiences with little attention to the positive aspects of the lives of gay men and lesbians. A survey collected data on perceptions of the positive aspects of being a gay man or lesbian (total n=553). Analyses revealed 3 domains with 11 themes. The positive aspects of gay or lesbian identity were belonging to a community, creating families of choice, forging strong connections with others, serving as positive role models, developing empathy and compassion, living authentically and honestly, gaining personal insight and sense of self, involvement in social justice and activism, freedom from gender-specific roles, exploring sexuality and relationships, and enjoying egalitarian relationships (lesbian participants only). These findings are discussed in light of recent literature on positive psychology and strength-based therapeutic approaches.
18. Rostosky, S.S., Otis, M.D., Riggle, E.D.B., Brumett, S.K., & Brodnicki, C. (2007). An Exploratory Study of Religiosity and Same-Sex Couple Relationships. Journal of GLBT Family Studies, 3 (4).
An apparent lack of empirical research on religiosity and same-sex couple relationships led to an exploratory examination of the role of religiosity in the relationships of 90 same-sex couples. For most couple members, religious expression took an internal or private form rather than a public form. Couples tended to be homogamous in their religiosity. Couple homogamy of intrinsic religiosity (but not of affiliation or public/private religious activities) was associated with higher relationship satisfaction. Couples used various strategies to address conflicts between sexual identity and religiosity including abandoning public religiosity in favor of private religious expression or retaining a public expression by integrating or compartmentalizing sexual minority identities. Implications for future research and practice are discussed.
17. Riggle, E.D.B., & Rostosky, S.S. (2007). The well-being consequences of marriage policy. In C. Rimmerman & C. Wilcox (Eds.) The Politics of Same-Sex Marriage. Chicago: University of Chicago.
Introduction: While the citizens of the United States compassionately grieved with the spouses of the victims in the tragedy of September 11 (2001), the same-sex partners of victims of this tragedy suffered the compounded consequences of a vulnerable (and often invisible) social and legal status. Was the loss of these committed relationships any less tragic because of the lack of a civil marriage license? Was the grief of surviving partners any less deserving of a compassionate response because they were not labeled by the government as “spouse” or “family”? Did government policies denying civil marriage to same-sex couples exacerbate the pain and suffering of those who lost their same-sex partner?
The denial of the right of same-sex couples to enter into a civil marriage is an institutionalized form of stigma. This stigmatization, especially in the context of the current public debates and actions, devalues the relationships of same-sex couples and ultimately induces psychological harm. A public policy that induces harm by devaluation of a group of citizens is a public health issue. To apply Chief Justice Warren’s words from Brown v Board of Education (1954), to separate same-sex relationships from others of similar circumstance solely because of their choice of intimate partner “generates a feeling of inferiority as to their status in the community that may affect their hearts and minds in a way unlikely ever to be undone.” Thus, the effect of current civil marriage policy is to exacerbate the negative psychological (and consequent physical) health effects of stigmatization through the sanction of law.
The culture of devaluation, including overt and subtle prejudice and discrimination, creates and reinforces the chronic, everyday stress that interferes with optimal human development and well-being. This form of chronic stress is referred to in the psychosocial literature as minority stress (Brooks, 1981; Meyer 1995, 2003). We begin this chapter by reviewing this framework and its particular application to sexual minority individuals and same-sex couples. We then use this minority stress framework as the basis for our argument that current policy regarding civil marriage for same-sex couples negatively affects the health and well-being of families: 1) by socially constructing a stigmatized family form composed of members who anticipate and experience discrimination; 2) by creating a legal status that induces and institutionalizes vulnerability, leaving couples open to financial and emotional crises; and 3) by reinforcing and perpetuating a rhetoric based on discriminatory attitudes and bias-based fears rather than democratic values and civility. We illustrate these points with findings from qualitative studies of relational commitment in over 100 same-sex couples. We conclude the chapter by suggesting that the inequity perpetuated by current civil marriage policy is a public health issue that needs to be addressed in policy and social context as a necessary step toward promoting well-being for all citizens.
16. Owens, G.P., Riggle, E.D.B., & Rostosky, S.S. (2007). Mental Health Services Access for Sexual Minority Individuals. Sexuality Research and Social Policy, 4, 92-99.
Gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender individuals report lower levels of mental health than the general population (e.g., Cochran, 2001) and thus a need for appropriate mental health services. An online survey was conducted to assess factors associated with utilization of services and perceived availability of affirmative providers. Of the 226 respondents, 18% reported that they had no insurance coverage; 24% of the sample reported experiencing a mental health concern in the past year for which they felt they needed but did not seek treatment. Logistic regression analyses indicated that gender, depression, internalized homophobia, medical mistrust, and whether the individual had a choice of affirmative provider predicted the likelihood of seeking treatment in the past year. Social and educational policy implications of these findings are discussed.
15, Rostosky, S.S., Riggle, E.D.B., Gray, B.E., & Hatton, R.L. (2007). Minority stress experiences in committed same-sex couple relationships. Professional Psychology: Research and Practice, 38, 392-400.
Providing culturally competent services to same-sex couples requires an understanding of the social context in which these relationships are formed and maintained. Using minority stress theory (Meyer, 2003) as an interpretive framework, the authors conducted a dyadic level qualitative analysis of 40 (20 female; 20 male) couples’ conversations about their committed partnerships. Findings indicate that couples experience minority stress as they interact with their family members, co-workers, and communities. In response to stressors, couples use coping strategies that include reframing negative experiences, concealing their relationship, creating social support, and affirming self and partnership. Recommendations for practitioners based on these findings include assessing minority stress, facilitating coping, and taking a critical stance toward policies that perpetuate social stigma and chronic stress.
14. Rostosky, S.S., Danner, F., & Riggle, E.D.B. (2007). Is Religiosity a Protective Factor Against Substance Use in Emerging Adulthood? Only If You’re Straight! Journal of Adolescent Health, 40, 40-447 .
Purpose: Previous research has documented that substance use peaks during young adulthood and that religiosity provides a protective effect against binge drinking, marijuana use, and cigarette smoking. The majority of these studies do not examine sexual identity as it relates to these factors. Drawing on social influence and developmental theories, we tested the hypothesis that religiosity would provide a protective effect for heterosexual but not sexual minority young adults.
Conclusions: Religiosity was not protective against substance use in sexual minority young adults, cautioning against over-generalizing previous findings about the protective effects of religiosity. Furture studies that 1) consider the soeical context for sexual identity developement; 2) model both risk and protective factors, and 3) use multidimensional measures of religiosity (and spirituality) and sexual identity are needed to build the necessary knowledge base for effective health promotion efforts among sexual minority youth and young adults.
13. Rostosky, S.S., Riggle, E.D.B., Dudley, M.G., & Comer Wright, M.L. (2006). Relational commitment: A qualitative analysis of same-sex couples’ conversations. Journal of Homosexuality, 51(3), 199-223.
Theoretical constructs and meanings of relational commitment for same-sex couples have typically been generalized from heterosexual relationships. Same-sex couples, however, face a unique set of challenges in constructing committed relationships. To expand our knowledge of the meaning of commitment, same-sex couples described their lived experiences in defining and creating a committed relationship. Transcripts of the conversations of 14 same-sex couples (7 male and 7 female couples) were subjected to analysis using the Consensual Qualitative Research (CQR) method (Hill, Thompson, and Williams, 1997). Seven domains emerged, revealing that these same-sex couples constructed the meaning of commitment through comparisons, costs, intra-couple differences, investments, personal and relationship values and ideals, rewards, and sexual boundaries. Unique aspects of commitment are discussed as well as the implications of these findings for future research and service delivery.
12. Riggle, E. D.B., Rostosky, S.S., & Prather, R.A. (2006). The execution of advance planning documents by same-sex couples. Journal of Family Issues, 27, 758-776..
The lack of legal recognition of same-sex couples can leave partners vulnerable in a crisis or emergency. Advance planning is one strategy couples can use to establish legal rights. Analyses of data collected from both partners in 131 same-sex couples suggested that executing advance planning documents (wills, powers of attorney for finance and health care, and living wills) was associated with age and couple-level relational variables. Older couples and couples that reported higher commitment levels were more likely to have executed the four documents. Couples who had disclosed their relationship to a higher percentage of their relatives were more likely to have executed wills and living wills. Implications of these findings for public policy and social services affecting same-sex couples are discussed.
11. Otis, M. D., Rostosky, S.S., Riggle, E.D.B., & Hamrin, R. (2006). Stress and relationship quality in same-sex couples. Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, 23, 81-99.
This study focuses on the relationship between sources of minority stress and the quality of same-sex couples’ relationships. Interdependence theory and the minority stress model are used to examine actor-partner effects of internalized homophobia, discrimination, and perceived stress on perceptions of relationship quality in same-sex couples. Couples were recruited through web-based solicitations (N = 131). OLS regression and Kenny’s (1996) technique for examining interdependent relationships for exchangeable dyad members were used to identify between and within couple differences. Internalized homophobia and discrimination were found to impact couple members in unique ways. Higher levels of internalized homophobia and discrimination were predictive of less favorable perceptions of relationship quality, however, as hypothesized the overall impact was mediated by levels of perceived stress.
10. Otis, M.D., Riggle, E.D.B., & Rostosky, S.S. (2006) Impact of mental health on perceptions of relationship satisfaction and quality among female same-sex couples. Journal of Lesbian Studies, 10, 267-283.
Using data from both partners in female same-sex couples, individual and dyadic (individual/actor-partner) level analyses were conducted to determine the associations between couple members’ global mental health, internalized homophobia, and perceptions of relationship qualities and satisfaction (N = 90). Findings at the dyadic level indicated that an individual’s global mental health was uniquely associated with her partner’s assessment of relationship satisfaction and qualities, beyond the effects of the individual’s own mental health and internalized homophobia. Implications for further research on the strengths and challenges within female same-sex couple relationships are discussed.
9. Riggle, E.D.B., Rostosky, S.S., Couch, R., Brodnicki, C., Campbell, J., & Savage, T. (2006). To have or not to have: Advance planning by same-sex couples. Sexuality Research and Social Policy, 3, 22-32.
Twenty-eight same-sex couples were interviewed regarding advance planning documents (e.g., wills and powers of attorney). Results revealed motivating and inhibiting factors in decisions to execute documents. Couples that had executed advance planning documents were motivated by the desire to protect and show commitment to the relationship, experiences with family of origin, experiences of friends and life experiences, and socio-political culture; couples that had not executed advance planning documents were deterred by a lack of priority or urgency, relationships with family of origin and partner, good health and youth, and a lack of resources, including a lack of knowledge about the documents. The unique experiences of same-sex couples and resulting policy implications are discussed within a theoretical framework of minority stress.
8. Riggle, E.D.B., & Rostosky, S.S. (2005). For better or worse: Psycholegal soft spots and advance planning for same-sex couples. Professional Psychology: Research and Practice, 35, 90-96.
Research has suggested that the majority of psychologists feel underprepared to provide service to lesbian, gay, and bisexual clients, including same-sex couples. To provide competent services to same-sex couples, psychologists must be aware of and sensitive to legal status issues. One special area of vulnerability for couples can be addressed and at least partially alleviated by advance planning for possible medical crises, including the death of a partner. The creation of wills, powers of attorney, and advance medical directives can create and protect the rights of partners during these times of crisis. Issues related to minority stress may discourage couples from planning. Case illustrations of culturally competent practice in dealing with issues of minority stress and advance planning are provided.
7. Riggle, E. D.B., Rostosky, S. S., Prather, R. A., & Hamrin, R. (2005). The execution of legal documents by sexual minority individuals. Psychology, Public Policy, and Law, 11, 138-163.
Sexual minority individuals (specifically bisexual, gay, lesbian and transgendered [BGLT]) have identities and relationships that are socially stigmatized and legally unrecognized. An online survey of 398 BGLT individuals was conducted concerning their execution of 5 legal planning documents: a will, powers of attorney for finances and healthcare, a living will, and hospital visitation authorization. We found support for the hypothesis that BGLT individuals who are in committed relationships, have disclosed their sexual orientation to immediate family, and have more income are more likely to have executed some or all of these documents. The authors discuss implications for BGLT individuals and same-sex couples, the need for policy changes and therapeutic intervention, and future directions for research in this area.
6. Riggle, E. D.B., Rostosky, S. S., & Reedy, C. S. (2005). Online surveys for BGLT research: Issues and techniques. Journal of Homosexuality, 49, 1-21.
Online surveys are becoming increasingly popular for accessing less visible and decentralized populations, including bisexual, gay, lesbian and transgender (BGLT) populations. Advances in technology and convenience for the both the researcher and the participant have facilitated this trend. In this paper, we explore issues related to conducting BGLT survey research online, such as making decisions about survey formats, target populations and recruitment, compensation, access, and privacy. We also discuss technical issues related to online surveys and their implications for confidentiality and informed consent.
5. Riggle, E.D.B., Thomas, J.D., & Rostosky, S.S. (2005). The marriage debate and minority stress. PS: Political Science and Politics, 38, 21-24.
Introduction: Healthy adult development commonly includes a desire and intent to form intimate, long-term relationships. For individuals attracted to members of the opposite sex, these relationships may be formed, socially affirmed, and, by mutual choice, legally recognized by government agencies in the U.S. For individuals attracted to members of the same sex, these relationships may be formed, but social affirmation and legal recognition are only sporadically available. Thus, the normative relational developmental processes for same-sex attracted individuals incur unique challenges that other-sex attracted individuals do not.
The current political and social culture in the U.S. is a symptom and continuation of a stratified state in which same-sex couples are stigmatized and marginalized. The stratification of rights, establishing rights for one set of citizens based on a characteristic that is not available to all citizens, creates a status of stigmatized “second-class citizens.” These second-class citizens, in this case those citizens who are members of same-sex couples, become “strangers” to the basic rights of liberty and the pursuit of happiness, and are at risk for minority stress and its health consequences.
The debate over civil marriage for same-sex couples activates and exacerbates the stigmatization of gays, lesbians, and members of same-sex couples. A stigma refers to a characteristic of a person that is a mark of disgrace or shame and is attached to a person through a label, which may be part of a self-identity or an imposed identity. Stigma may be conceptualized in a socio-political culture as being about power relationships and the use of an attribute to create a discounted class. The stigma is then used to discount a class of people and results in disapproval, rejection, exclusion, and discrimination (Link and Phelan 2000).
The current political and social debate over the right of same-sex couples to civil marriage engenders a threat to the public health of the U.S. and its citizenry. The current debate features negative stereotypes, intentionally demeaning and de-legitimizing rhetoric, and the institutionalization of discriminatory policies. While the target of the rhetoric and policies is same-sex couples, one set of citizens cannot be publicly demeaned without demeaning the entire citizenry and creating divisions within a society.
4. Dudley, M. J., Rostosky, S. S., Riggle, E. D. B., Duhigg, J., Brodnicki, C., & Couch, R. (2005). Same-sex couples’ experiences with homonegativity. Journal of GLBT Family Studies, 1(4), 68-93.
Same-sex couples face many challenges in forming and maintaining committed relationships. Challenges unique to same-sex couples include experiences with homonegativity. Sixteen same-sex couples were asked to share their experiences with homonegativity that had an influence on their relational commitment. Data from their conversations were analyzed using Consensual Qualitative Research methodology (Hill, Thompson, & Williams, 1997). Analyses revealed that same-sex couples commonly experienced homonegativity from general societal sources and family of origin. Additionally, some couples experienced homonegativity from religious and legal sources. The implications of these results for relational commitment and future research on same-sex couple relationships are discussed.
3. Rostosky, S.S., Korfhage, B., Duhigg, J., Stern, A., Bennett, L., & Riggle, E.D.B. (2004). Same-sex couples’ perceptions of family support: A consensual qualitative study. Family Process, 43, 43-56.
Few studies have examined the family context in which same-sex couples negotiate their lives and relationships. Consensual qualitative research methods (Hill, Thompson, & Williams, 1997) were used to analyze 14 same-sex couples’ conversations about family support. Couples perceived that their families are positively supportive, non-supportive, or ambivalent in their support. These perceptions led to positive or negative emotional reactions in the couple members and to specific coping. The majority of couples perceived that family support (or lack of support) had an effect on the quality of their couple relationship. No general or typical response strategies to lack of family of origin support emerged, suggesting a lack of models or norms for same-sex couples. The implications for psychotherapeutic interventions with same-sex couples are discussed.
2. Rostosky, S. S., Owens, G. P., Zimmerman, R., & Riggle, E. D. B. (2004). Associations among sexual attraction status, school belonging, and alcohol and marijuana use in rural high school students. Journal of Adolescence, 6, 741-751.
Analysis of data collected from 1,725 9th graders from 25 rural high schools revealed that students reporting same-sex attraction or uncertainty about their attraction status also reported significantly lower GPAs, lower school belonging, and higher marijuana and alcohol use. Regression analyses confirmed that beyond the effects of GPA and biological sex, sexual minority attraction status was negatively associated with school belonging. Further, while higher school belonging significantly decreased the odds of alcohol and marijuana use, sexual attraction status did not significantly contribute to the model. Post-hoc analyses indicated that sexual minority students systematically reported that they perceived less privacy in completing the survey, lending support to the notion that these adolescents may feel less trusting of their school environments. These findings are discussed in light of the need for interventions to address the developmental challenges of sexual minority students.
1. Rostosky, S. S., & Riggle, E. D. B. (2002). ‘Out’ at work: The relation of actor and partner workplace policy and internalized homophobia to disclosure status. Journal of Counseling Psychology, 49, 411-419.
Those who identify as gay male or lesbian must make decisions about whether to disclose their sexual orientation in work environments that may be discriminatory. As part of a larger web-based survey of love, work, and health in gay male and lesbian couples, we examined the predictors of individuals’ workplace disclosure status in 118 couples. Findings indicated that, at the individual level, having a workplace nondiscrimination policy and less internalized homophobia were positively associated with the extent to which an individual was out at work. Beyond these individual effects, an individual’s disclosure status at work was also positively associated with her or his partner having a workplace nondiscrimination policy and less internalized homophobia. The implications for counseling and for wider interventions at the policy level are discussed.