A University of Oregon sociology doctoral student named Tony Silva recently interviewed 19 men from the M4M casual encounters section of Craigslist to ask them about their sexual habits and identities and published his findings in the journal Gender & Society. All the inteviewees identified as exclusively or mostly straight, most were over 50 (only five were under) and they all lived in rural areas of Idaho, Illinois, Missouri, Oregon and Washington known for their “social conservatism and predominant white populations.”
In his backgrounding, Silva came across several not-completely-straight terms like “dude sex” (sex between white, masculine “bros” in urban and military contexts) and “heteroflexible” (same-sex encounters of men who predominantly identify as heterosexual). But his interview also uncovered a a new term: “bud-sex”, a type of encounter that reaffirms the participants’ heterosexuality by framing their same-sex sexual activity as “helpin’ a buddy out,” relieving “urges” or having sex without sexual attraction (if that makes sense).
He found that these men re-contextualized their same-sex encounters in ways that reaffirmed their own heterosexual identity. Predominantly, they tended to go for other straight-identifying men that didn’t behave effeminate or “flaming”. This way, the men could talk about women together and avoid romantic/emotional entanglements that might involve them more in each other’s daily lives.
That being said, some of these men also did other activities with their same-sex partners — like shopping, having coffee, hiking, and hanging out — activities that would imply friendship if not some deeper emotional connection between them.
He reportedly didn’t ask his interviewees how they can have gay sex without identifying as gay (though some of his interviewees did identify as “slightly bi”). But Silva says that these men may avoid identifying as gay because of “internalized heterosexism, participation in other-sex marriage and childrearing [which could be complicated if they came out as bi or gay],” while benefitting from the enjoyment of straight privilege and culture.