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The Gender, Sexuality, & Relationships Lab is dedicated to studying how gender and sexuality are constructed within families and intimate relationships. In so doing, our research seeks to improve the wellbeing of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ) adults, with careful consideration to their intersectional lived experiences. Using both qualitative and quantitative methodologies, and a range of queer and family theories, we strive to uncover how the interpersonal, familial and contextual experiences of LGBTQ people—and/or people with diverse sexualities and genders—inform their mental health and quality of life.

We are currently embarking on study that seeks to identify the ways in which analreceptive heterosexual males (ARHMs) actualize the practice of analreceptive sex (“pegging”) in the face of pervasive sociocultural stigma against male anal pleasure. In so doing, will also intend to highlight aspects of culturally humble therapeutic practice for clinicians working with this population.


2021-2022: The Family Institute at Northwestern University Seed Grant for “Pining for a Pegging: Analreceptive Heterosexual Men Negotiating Stigma & Masculinity.” PIs: Samuel H. Allen, Ph.D., & Jennifer Rafacz, Ph.D.

Jen Rafacz, Ph.D., CST

Associate Director, Sexuality
Licensed Clinical Psychologist
AASECT Certified Sex Therapist
Clinical Lecturer

Samuel Allen, Ph.D.

Core Faculty, Marriage & Family Therapy Program
Clinical Assistant Professor
Primary Branch: MFT@NU Online