Dr. Phillip Joy, Assistant Professor in the Department of Applied Human Nutrition, received $65,628.00 to advance their research from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) in the 2021 Insight Development Grants (IDG) competition. Dr. Joy’s funding will be used to examine “puppy” play in the queer community.

Surging in popularity among gay, bi, trans, and queer (GBTQ) persons, “puppy” play is a healthy form of Bondage/Discipline, Dominance/Submission, and Sadism/Masochism (BDSM) roleplay. BDSM play has been noted to build community connections, serve as a social activity for relaxation and has therapeutic power for GBTQ men who have faced emotional and mental trauma relating to stigma and discrimination.

Working with Co-Investigators Dr. Megan Aston, Professor at the School of Nursing at Dalhousie University, and Dr. Oliver Ferlatte, Assistant Professor in the Department of Social and Preventative Medicine at the School of Public Health of the University of Montreal, this project seeks to understand how participation in this subculture influences body image, which for many GBTQ men can be a source of emotional and mental stress. Rooted in community focused research, particularly the GBTQ community and the pup community, research participants will be asked to create films about their experiences within the pup community as they relate to body image. The data that can be collected during this project will provide insight into the changing cultural and social trends regarding the attitudes, opinions, and practices of gay, bi, and trans men who engage in pup play.

Dr. Joy will create new knowledge about how bodies are viewed within the GBTQ communities and the pup subculture, a subculture that has historically not been well studied. It will advance sociological knowledge and discourses around the intersection of kink communities, body image, sexuality, and wellness in contemporary times. It also has the potential to generate new insights into ways GBTQ men may be able to navigate body image tensions to improve their overall wellbeing.

The Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC) is the federal research funding agency that promotes and supports postsecondary-based research and research training in the humanities and social sciences. By focusing on developing talent, generating insights, and forging connections across campuses and communities, SSHRC strategically supports world-leading initiatives that reflect a commitment to ensuring a better future for Canada and the world.

Congratulations Dr. Joy!