Then there’s the ever-fascinating phenomenon of straight men having sex with one another. We all know it goes on—just check out Craigslist and notice the straight guys looking for “same.” That’s exactly what sociologist Tony Silva did, focusing on rural settings, and he tracked down a sample of nineteen country guys who fitted the bill. Most were married, and all identified strongly as heterosexual. So what allowed them to perform the mental gymnastics needed to make this leap? Silva interviewed the men in depth and found that the “looking for same” component was key. Having sex with a gay guy, they explained, would make it a gay experience, while doing it with another straight guy was okay, because, after all, the other guy was just like you: not gay! Concluded Silva: “It’s not gay if the guy you’re having sex with doesn’t seem gay at all.” Indeed, Silva found that if anything the same-sex encounters could be used to strengthen the men’s heterosexual identity. It’s just “helpin’ a buddy out,” they would say; it’s what real men do for one another when the need arises. So what if, for some of them, the need arises quite a lot?
On a related note, check out the review of Not Gay: Sex Between Straight White Men in The G&LR‘s November-December 2015 Issue.