Plenty of research has been done on MSM, or men who have sex with men. Previous studies have looked into the military, fraternities, biker gangs, and conservative suburban neighborhoods. With terms as "bros," in a sexual context, and dudesex coming out of these studies. Sociologist love it as it helps interpret questions of identity, sexual desire, and cultural norms. In the latest rise of MSM is "Bud Sex," or sex among rural white men.
In a recent paper in Gender and Identity, Tony Silva explores this phenomenon.
Silva interviewed 19 men from rural areas in Illinois, Missouri, Washington, Oregon, and Idaho. He talked with each person for an hour and a half, recruiting them through ads on Craigslist. 14 of the 19 men were over 50 and identified as straight or mostly straight.
So what makes these men have "Bud Sex" and what differentiates them from other MSM groups and identities?
First off, most of the men have predominantly straight and masculine lives. They are mainly attracted to women and may have families of their own. When asked about having sex with other men, they played up their heterosexuality and named the sexual acts more as "helping a buddy out," "relieving urges," and it was seen more as reacting on sexual desires rather than attraction to men.
The study says traditional, rural masculinity is central to these men's identities and preforming homosexual acts solidifies their heterosexuality. If you're confused, don't worry, so are we.
Another thing all the participants agreed on, was they were not into feminine men. It was a turn off, and they said they had wives or women that they could look to for it. Many were afraid a feminine man would be too needy, and they didn't want any emotional connection. Saying things like, "If they’re too flamboyant they just turn me off," and "Femininity in a man is a turn off."
What's interesting is that even though the men don't want the attachment, or "a deep emotional connection" as the study puts it, the men don't mind a sense of comradery, or friendship. The men have admitted to making connections with their hook ups. This leads to grabbing coffee, hanging out, and even sleepovers when one's wife is away (raises eyebrow).
While they may not want a deep emotional connection, it seems fairly similar to other relationships I've seen, and it clearly isn't just about the sex.
If anything it seems like these men are more than just "mostly straight." Yet the study points out, there are many cultural norms in place to keep them from identifying as gay or even bi if they wanted to. It goes to show how cultural environments can affect ones self identity and how they go about showing it.
While "Bud Sex" may be a thing we will have to wait and see if it catches on. Maybe if it does, more of these men will identify as something more than straight.
H/T: NY Mag