“Overall, I wish people would understand that sexuality and gender are highly complex and influenced greatly by social forces,” Tony Silva (pictured), a sociology doctoral student at University of Oregon tells Queerty.
Silva’s recent study, Bud-Sex: Constructing Normative Masculinity Among Rural Straight Men That Have Sex With Men, has been blowing up the Internet. In it, he spoke with 19 different men living in rural, predominately white areas who identify as straight but who hook up with other men on occasion.
“There is quite a bit of research about sexuality and masculinity in urban areas,” Silva, who identifies as queer and has both an MA and MS in sociology, explains. “Rural sexualities and masculinities are fairly understudied. For this reason I was interested in examining those areas.”
We chatted with Silva about his study, the things he learned, and the response it has been getting. Here’s what he had to say…
OK, just so everyone is on the same page here, what is “bud sex” and who coined the phrase?
I came up with the term “bud-sex” to describe the participants’ experiences. Bud-sex reflects the ways in which participants interpret their sexual practices (e.g., “helpin’ a buddy out” or acting on “urges”), their preferred male sexual partners (almost always masculine, and often white and straight or secretly bisexual), and the sexual encounters in which they engaged (secretive and non-romantic).
How exactly is bud sex different from gay sex or an anonymous gay hookup?
First, it’s important to keep in mind that interpretations are central to sexual identities. Sexual identities like straight, gay/lesbian, bisexual, queer, pansexual, and others refer to a complex matrix of attractions, sexual practices, and interpretations of each. Men like these participants use unconventional interpretations to bolster their identification as straight. Thus, while “bud-sex” and anonymous gay hookups may appear similar, the people involved interpret them in completely different ways. For gay and bisexual men, their sex with men reinforces their gay or bisexual identity. For straight men, the ways in which they have sex with men—and how they interpret it—reinforce their straightness. Similar sexual practices carry different meanings across contexts and populations.