Savin-Williams, Ritch C.

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Savin-Williams, Ritch C.

(Ritch Charles Savin-Williams)

PERSONAL: Male. Education: University of Missouri, B.A., 1971; University of Chicago, M.A., 1973, Ph.D., 1977; attended University of Massachusetts.

ADDRESSES: Office—College of Human Ecology, Cornell University, 145 Martha Van Rensselaer Hall, Ithaca, NY 14853-4401. E-mail[email protected]

CAREER: Psychologist, educator, and writer. Cornell University, Ithaca, NY, chairman of Department of Human Development, 2003–, professor of human development. Served on numerous university boards and committees, as well as in other capacities for numerous regional and national organizations, including consultant for American Civil Liberties Union; curriculum writer for Unitarian Universalist Association, Boston, MA; consultant for Department of Health Resources and Services Administration; investigator for New York State Division for Youth Detention Centers, Attorney General's Office. Consultant for Human Rights Campaign FamilyNet online National Cancer Institute.

MEMBER: American Psychological Association (cochair of Scrivner awards, 1999–2003).

AWARDS, HONORS: Mark Freedman Memorial Award for Outstanding Research Paper on Homosexuality, American Psychological Association, 1986; Award for Distinguished Scientific Contribution, Division 44, American Psychological Association, 2001; grants from Spence Foundation, Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, New York Division for Youth, and New York Hatch.


Adolescence: An Ethological Perspective, Springer-Verlag (New York, NY), 1987.

Gay and Lesbian Youth: Expressions of Identity, Hemisphere (New York, NY), 1990.

(With Tracey Robinson-Harris) Beyond Pink and Blue: Exploring Our Sterotypes of Sexuality and Gender: A Program for Ages 13 to 15, Unitarian Universalist Association (Boston, MA), 1994.

(Editor and contributor, with Kenneth M. Cohen) The Lives of Lesbians, Gays, and Bisexuals: Children to Adults, Harcourt Brace College (Fort Worth, TX), 1996.

"—And Then I Became Gay": Young Men's Stories, Routledge (New York, NY), 1998.

Mom, Dad, I'm Gay: How Families Negotiate Coming Out, American Psychological Association (Washington, DC), 2001.

The New Gay Teenager, Harvard University Press (Cambridge, MA), 2005.

Also author of Dominance-Submission Behaviors and Hierarchies in Young Adolescents at a Summer Camp (microfilm), Library of Congress, 1977. Author or coauthor of numerous articles for professional journals, including the Journal of Gay and Lesbian Issues in Education, Journal of Adolescence, Current Problems in Pediatric-and Adolescent Health Care, Journal of Family Psychology, and Child and Adolescent Psychiatric Clinics of North of America. Contributor to books, including Men and Masculinities: A Social, Cultural, and Historical Encyclopedia, edited by M.S. Kimmel and A. Aronson, ABC-Clio (Santa Barbara, CA), 2004; Adolescent Boys: Exploring Diverse Cultures of Boyhood, edited by N. Way and J.Y. Chu, New York University Press (New York, NY), 2004; and Educating Adolescents: Challenges and Strategies, edited by T. Urdan and F. Pajaries, Information Age Publishing (Greenwich, CT), 2004. Served on editorial boards, including Journal of Homosexuality, 1983–; Journal of HIV/AIDS Prevention & Education for Adolescents & Children, 1994–99; International Journal of Sexuality and Gender Studies, 1997–2002; Archives of Sexual Behavior, 2001–; Journal of LGBT Family Studies, 2003–; Sexuality Research and Social Policy, Journal of NSRC, 2003–; and Journal of Gay and Lesbian Issues in Education, 2003–.

WORK IN PROGRESS: A book titled "… And Then I Kissed Her": Young Women's Stories.

SIDELIGHTS: Ritch C. Savin-Williams is a clinical psychologist whose interests focus on psychosexual development during adolescence, sexual identity development among adolescents and early adults, and sexual minority development. In his book Gay and Lesbian Youth: Expressions of Identity, the author reports on his study of more than 300 gay and lesbian youths to learn more about the areas of self-esteem and disclosure. The author discusses a variety of topics, including issues such as research literature on lesbian and gay youth, the idea of poor self-esteem in these youth, and youth coming out as homosexual. "The final Chapter 10, 'Moving the Invisible to Visibility,' is the heart of the book," wrote Richard R. Pleak in the Archives of Sexual Behavior. "Here, Savin-Williams explores issues of importance in research involving lesbian/gay youths and in working with these youths." As Pleak went on to note, "The chief importance of the book is its focus on lesbian/gay youths and the author's ability to see this underresearched group in nonpathological terms and challenge the concept that lesbian and gay youths necessarily have low self-esteem."

In The Lives of Lesbians, Gays, and Bisexuals: Children to Adults, Savin-Williams and coeditor Kenneth M. Cohen bring together a wide range of researchers and experts to produce an academic book looking at many aspects of homosexuality. In a review in the Journal of Sex Research, Scott C. Strader commented that "a significantly different collection is offered than has heretofore been seen in the professional literature: an opportunity to understand even the most 'hard scientific data' in individual, unique, and human terms." Strader went on to note one of the author's own chapters in the book, commenting that Savin-Williams "presents a welcomed ethnology in his chapter on memories of childhood and early adolescent sexual feelings among gay and bisexual boys, demonstrating his vast knowledge of the field."

The author compares the development of gay versus heterosexual youth in "—And Then I Became Gay": Young Men's Stories, Based largely on the author's interviews with 180 boys and men aged fourteen to twenty-five, the author presents his belief that there are similarities in the developmental life of gay and heterosexual youths but that there also exist vast differences in their pathways of development. "Previously, psychological research has assumed that the development of sexual identity follows a single pathway, and that individual experiences are simply variations on the same, more inclusive trajectory," William Leap wrote in the Lambda Book Report. "So it is refreshing to see that Savin-Williams acknowledges that 'the continuity and discontinuity in individual lives and the turning points that redirect or rechannel the meanings of experiences' are multiple and diverse." Richard Violette, writing in the Library Journal, commented that "the sensitive treatment and personal narratives will appeal to well-informed lay readers." Journal of Sex Research contributor Strader called the book "thorough and thought-provoking."

Mom, Dad, I'm Gay: How Families Negotiate Coming Out focuses on sexual minority youth and their families and is based on the author's interviews with eighty-six young men and seventy-eight young women. Savin-Williams discusses such issues as how a healthy relationship can be formed between the youth and parents and what the author believes are some general misconceptions about the process of homosexual youths coming out. Writing in the Archives of Sexual Behavior, Daniel M. Medeiros commented that the author "has achieved his goal of creating a valuable resource for sexual-minority youths and their families and for those who care for them."

Savin-Williams examines the new and evolving attitudes that gay youngsters have about themselves in his book The New Gay Teenager. He points out that many youth look at their sexuality in very different ways than most prior generations, pointing out that they often reject the idea of labeling themselves as either homosexual or heterosexual. The author also discusses how the more liberal outlook toward the conventions of sexuality among youth may impact culture in the future. Library Journal contributor David S. Azzolina noted the author's "ability to transmit complicated concepts clearly."



Archives of Sexual Behavior, June, 1993, Richard R. Pleak, review of Gay and Lesbian Youth: Expressions of Identity, p. 282; August, 2001, Domonick J. Wegesin, review of The Lives of Lesbians, Gays, and Bisexuals: Children to Adults, p. 450; October, 2003, Daniel M. Medeiros review of Mom, Dad, I'm Gay: How Families Negotiate Coming Out, p. 488.

Human Ecology, June, 2004, Metta Winter, "ReConceptualizing the Gay Teen," p. 14.

Journal of Sex Research, winter, 1997, Scott C. Strader, review of The Lives of Lesbians, Gays, and Bisexuals, p. 57; February, 1999, Scott C. Strader, review of "—And Then I Became Gay": Young Men's Stories, p. 117.

Lambda Book Report, November, 1998, William Leap, review of "—And Then I Became Gay," p. 35.

Library Journal, January, 1998, Richard Violette, review of "—And Then I Became Gay," p. 122; March 1, 2005, David S. Azzolina, review of The New Gay Teenager, p. 101.


Cornell University College of Human Ecology Web site, (September 19, 2005), faculty profile of author.