The Positive Aspects of Being a Lesbian or Gay Man

Ellen D.B. Riggle, Joy S. Whitman, Amber Olson, Sharon Scales Rostosky, Sue Strong

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

233 Scopus citations


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. An online survey collected data on perceptions of the positive aspects of being a gay man or lesbian (N = 553). Qualitative 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.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)210-217
Number of pages8
JournalProfessional Psychology: Research and Practice
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 2008


  • identity
  • meaning
  • minority stress
  • positive psychology
  • well-being

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychology (all)


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