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Silva's research focuses on gender, sexuality, rural sociology, qualitative and quantitative methods, and race/ethnicity. His research examines how individuals negotiate and understand social categories that— while often perceived as natural— are actually affected by social context. Specifically, Silva examines gender and sexual identities, including their intersections with race, place, class, and age, and investigate diversity within them. As a mixed-methods researcher, he conducts research using interviews and secondary data analysis of nationally representative surveys.
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Draws on semi-structured interviews with 19 white, rural, straight-identified men who have sex with men to understand how they perceive their gender and sexuality.
Finds that political conservatism and religiosity are predictors of straight identification and changing to a straight sexual identity, even after controlling for attractions and sexual practices. Suggests that non-sexual social factors, such as religiosity and conservative political attitudes— themselves shaped by patterned social forces— are keys to heterosexual identification and heterosexual identity change.
Examines the relationship between straight identification and nonsexual social factors among men who are attracted to men and/or have had two or more male sexual partners using the 2011-2013 National Survey of Family Growth (NSFG), a nationally representative sample of Americans aged 15 to 44. Weighted logistic regression indicates that conservative attitudes about child rearing and gays/lesbians are associated with increased likelihood of straight identification, suggesting that for men with same-sex sexuality, attitudes about sexuality and child rearing may affect the meaning-making processes that influence heterosexual identification.