Poetry by Ellen D.B. Riggle

Poetry by Ellen D.B. Riggle

Ellen D.B. Riggle has recently published two poems:

“Queer.”  Rise Up Review, Summer 2023 (https://riseupreview.org/).

“He/She/They.”  Pegasus, Fall 2023 (https://pegasus-poetry.org/pegasus-fall-2023/)

Queer (Rise Up Review, Summer 2023)

When I call myself queer, I honor
girls shunned as too masculine /
boys bullied as too feminine /
children kicked out of their familial home /
those ostracized, fired, displaced /
pathologized, shocked, lobotomized /
mutilated for what they wore /
raped for who they were (not) attracted to /
murdered for who they loved /
dehumanized for living truth /
could-no-longer-pretend /
loves and lives erased,
           but they lived /
struggled, endured, fought for place/space
           where I can do more than merely survive /
and call myself queer.
Ellen D.B. Riggle, PhD, grew up in the Midwest and has lived in Lexington (KY) for over three decades working a day job as a professor of gender and women’s studies in order to support a somewhat serious hiking habit. They are an award-winning educator, recipient of first place in the Harriett A. Rose Legacies contest (Carnegie Center Lexington, KY), and author of over 100 academic articles and five non-fiction and fiction books, including A Positive View of LGBTQ, Charming Memory, and The Book of Baby J.

POSITIVELY – A Positive View Booklet Project

POSITIVELY, the Origami booklet with words to inspire a positive view and well-being.  We begin with the simple question: What’s positive about your LGBTQIA+2S*NB identity?  Read the research-based, adapted poem of words representing the responses of thousands who have responded to this query.  Share your response, and share this booklet with others.  Let’s cultivate well-being and positive identities (including our allies and families)!

Download the pdf here

Instructions:  This pdf is a regular 8.5×11 size page folded into 8 panels.  You will see the top panels appear up-side down.  That’s where the Origami paper folding comes in.  (a) First, print the page in Landscape mode. (b) Then, search online for instructions for “instructions for folding origami booklet” (there are a lot of videos and pictures to explain).  This is part of the fun of creating your own experience in this project.  And you can decorate!  (c) Read and reflect!  Reading for inspiration is important and thought-provoking – this is time and space to reflect on our strengths, growth, relationships, and resources.  (d) Share!  Sharing is part of spreading a message of caring for everyone in our communities.  Share the link; or print or copy and send the booklet to someone; or leave it for someone to find; or hand it to someone with a message of warmth .  Any way we can share the message supports our communities.

A Positive View project, written and produced by Ellen D.B. Riggle


NEW STUDY: Requesting Participation in a Research Study about LGBTQ Experiences 

Requesting Participation in a Research Study about LGBTQ Experiences 

  • This study is now closed.  

We are conducting an online research study to understand experiences of hypervigilance in the lives of LGBTQ people. By “hypervigilance” we mean the experience of paying extra close attention to your surroundings. If you are at least 18 years old and identify as Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, or Queer (LGBTQ), please share your feelings and thoughts with us by participating in a survey. It should take about 15 minutes to complete and we do not ask for information that would identify you.

Here is the link to the survey: https://uky.az1.qualtrics.com/jfe/form/SV_1ANJD8iPl9UrE45

If you are not eligible for this study but know someone who is, please help us by passing this information along!

Ellen D.B. Riggle, PhD, Professor of Political Science and Gender and Women’s Studies, and Sharon Rostosky, Ph.D., Professor of Counseling Psychology, at the University of Kentucky are conducting this study. You can contact them at e.riggle@nulluky.edu or (859) 257-7036 if you have questions about the study. For more information on the researchers and their research program, please visit www.PrismResearch.org.




APA Books Blog interview


Sharon Rostosky and Ellen Riggle: How Same-Sex Couples Can Actively Manage Stress

This is the latest in a series of interviews with APA Books authors. For this interview, Susan Herman, Developmental Editor and consultant for APA Books, spoke with Sharon S. Rostosky and Ellen D. B. Riggle, professors at University of Kentucky. APA Books published Rostosky & Riggle’s book Happy Together: Thriving as a Same-Sex Couple in Your Family, Workplace, and Community in early 2015.

Note: The opinions expressed in this interview are those of the authors and should not be taken to represent the official views or policies of the American Psychological Association.

 Rostosky headshot

Sharon S. Rostosky, PhD, is a licensed psychologist in the Commonwealth of Kentucky.  She joined the counseling psychology program at the University of Kentucky in 1999, where she is currently a professor and director of training.  Her research, published in more than 60 peer-reviewed journal articles and presented in numerous workshops for professional and general audiences, focuses on minority stress and well-being in individuals who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and/or queer and in same-sex couples.


Ellen D. B. Riggle, PhD, is a professor in the departments of Gender and Women’s Studies and Political Science at the University of Kentucky.  She is the coeditor of Sexual Identity on the Job and Gays and Lesbians in the Democratic Process.  She has published more than 60 articles and chapters in peer-reviewed journals and books.

More information about the work of Dr. Riggle and Dr. Rostosky can be found on their website: www.prismresearch.org

SH: Happy Together was released a few months shy of the 2015 Supreme Court ruling (Obergefell v. Hodges) that all 50 states in the USA must license and recognize same-sex marriages. What other aspects of the legal landscape have changed since early 2015 regarding same-sex couples?SR & ER: It’s true that same-sex marriages are legally recognized in all 50 states now. However, there has been an increase in the number of states introducing and passing so-called “religious freedom” laws.  The way that many of these laws are worded effectively gives businesses and institutions the right to discriminate against same-sex couples and LGBT individuals and eliminates any legal recourse by the targets of discrimination.

Some states have also introduced legislation that would allow government officials to refuse to issue marriage licenses to or perform marriages for same-sex couples.

Probably the most important aspect of the legal landscape are the things that haven’t changed.  For example, it is still legal in the majority of states to discriminate against LGBT people in jobs, services, and housing.  Marriage equality itself does not protect same-sex couples or LGBT individuals from discrimination.

Marriage equality also has not automatically led to equal parental rights for same-sex couples in all states.  Parental rights are still being questioned in many jurisdictions upon the birth or adoption of a child by same-sex couples.

SH: It’s common to hear about things that put stress on couples, like economic uncertainty, the high cost of child care, or addiction to smartphones and social media. Same-sex and different-sex couples, presumably, deal with all these same issues. What are some distinct concerns touching same-sex couples? 

SR & ER: Our research and that of other scholars shows that public debates surrounding anti-LGBT laws increase minority stress.  The current political environment has many uncertainties for same-sex couples and there is a real fear that the progress of LGBT rights will be halted and that the protections enacted in the past few years may be repealed.  This anxiety puts increased stress on couples that they need to constructively manage.

We wrote Happy Together specifically to help couples develop their strengths to deal with this type of environmental stress.

Because same-sex relationships are still stigmatized, same-sex couples are more likely to experience rejection from members of their family of origin. Imagine not having social support from your family, plus having to make the extra effort to set up appropriate boundaries with one or more especially prejudiced family members.

Same-sex couples may also have to expend more time and energy finding community support than different-sex couples.  For instance, same-sex couples may have to work harder to find an LGBTQ-affirmative religious or spiritual community, or an affirmative health service provider.

Same-sex couples also have to negotiate how “out” each partner will be in their respective workplaces, especially if one or both couple members

lack basic workplace protections like inclusive nondiscrimination policies.Same-sex couples who are parents worry about how their children and family will be treated by neighbors and school personnel.  These couples tend to spend more time than other parents advocating at their children’s school.

When they’re also subjected to prejudice based on racial identities, immigration status, economic disadvantage, disability, etc., same-sex couples can face significant stress.  What we have learned in our research, however, is that despite these challenges, same-sex couples can and do create enduring and satisfying relationships.

SH: In your clinical work, do you see particular strengths emerging from same-sex couple relationships that you might not see as often with different-sex couples? 

SR & ER: Same-sex couples often attribute their relationship satisfaction and longevity to their ability to create meaning and purpose out of their negative experiences.  For instance, same-sex couples might draw on their experience to understand and empathize with other marginalized groups and engage in social activism. Same-sex couples often create “families of choice” and rely on these families for social support, as well as provide support for others.

In our many interviews with same-sex couples over the years, we have witnessed how they cope by using humor and expressing appreciation for their similarities and differences.

We’ve also found that same-sex couples are more likely than different-sex couples to equally share responsibility for maintaining their relationship, by actively talking through and negotiating differences. We think this is because, without strict gender roles, same-sex couples feel more free to write their own relationship scripts.

SH: In addition to seeking out LGBTQ-affirming community resources and helping professionals, what can same-sex couples do to lower their stress levels and build themselves up? happy together

SR & ER: For people who like to read, we of course recommend our books. We have translated 15 years of basic research into two accessible books. Our first one, A Positive View of LGBTQ: Embracing Identity and Cultivating Well-being, is a resource for recognizing and using LGBTQ identity strengths. The second book, Happy Together: Thriving as a Same-Sex Couple in Your Family, Workplace, and Community, focuses on helping same-sex couples deal with minority stress. Both books are full of conversation starters and exercises.

One exercise in A Positive View of LGBTQ presents a “starter list” of self-care activities for readers to consider and build upon.

One activity in Happy Together guides couples to reflect on times when they anticipate rejection at work and then discuss how that fear affects their couple relationship. We give examples about how to take anxious thoughts and construct more helpful messages that can help them cope.

When we talk to same-sex couples who have been together 25, 35, 45 years, they tell us that one ‘secret to their success’ as a couple was building on their shared values and engaging in experiences that kept them learning and growing together. Shared values may involve recreational activities, spiritual/religious/educational pursuits, and commitments to making the world a more compassionate and supportive place through artistic expression, volunteerism, or community organizing.

Making a commitment to social change and social action is another powerful way to counter stress. We’ve met couples who engage in social activism on behalf of other oppressed minorities, women, people with AIDS, homeless youth, animals, the environment, food security—and that type of engagement is part of what makes their relationship flourish.

A good piece of advice for same-sex couples (and for anyone) doing social justice activism is to balance it with self-care and couple-care.  Couples must keep their relationship healthy and strong because, as Dr. Glenda Russell reminds us, we must take the long view or a “movement perspective” when it comes to bringing about social change


New article on reactions to Windsor and Perry decisions

  • Great news from the PrismResearch.org collaboration with the CUPPLES study – our first article is in press:
    Clark, J.B., Riggle, E.D.B., Rostosky, S.S., Balsam, K.F., & Rothblum, E.D. (In press, 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.

Two New Measures: LGB-PIM and T-PIM

The PrismResearch.org team and our collaborators have developed two new measures of positive identity.  One is for use with LGB identified individuals and a second separate measure is for use with transgender identified individuals.  These measures are available for download from the LGBPIM/TPIM link.  The citations are:

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).

Riggle, E.D.B., & Mohr, J.J. (In press, 2015). A proposed multifactor measure of positive identity for transgender identified individuals. Psychology of Sexual Orientation and Gender Diversity, 2(1).

PrismResearch Team at APA

Papers and posters presented by PrismResearch.org team members at APA:

Riggle, E.D.B., & Rostosky, S.S. (2014, August). “Marriage magic and LGBT/same-sex couple well-being.” Paper presented at the annual meeting of the American Psychological Association, Washington, District of Columbia.

Gonzalez, K. A., Black, W. W., Riggle, E. D. B., & Rostosky, S. S. (2014, August). Cultivating positive LGBTQA identities: An intervention study with college students. Poster accepted for presentation at the annual meeting of the American Psychological Association, Washington, District of Columbia.

Clark, J. B., Riggle, E. D. B., Rostosky, S. S., Tomita, K. K., Balsam, K. F. (2014, August). Windsor and Perry: Reactions of same-sex and heterosexual couple members. Symposium to be conducted at the meeting of the American Psychological Association, Washington, D.C.

Rosenkrantz, D., Cook, J., Rostosky, S., & Riggle, E. (2014, August). The positive aspects of being religious/spiritual and LGBTQ. Poster session presented at the American Psychological Association Conference, Washington, D.C.

Positive Identity Measure Developed


We have finished development of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual Positive Identity Measure (LGB-PIM), a 25-item, 5-factor scale. The article reporting the scale development has been accepted for publication:  Riggle, E.D.B., Mohr, J.J., Rostosky, S.S., Fingerhut, A.W., & Balsam, K.F. (Forthcoming). A multi-factor Lesbian, Gay, and Bisexual Positive Identity Measure (LGB-PIM). Psychology of Sexual Orientation and Gender Diversity.

This measure is available for use by researchers upon request prior to publication.