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Zachary Zane Has No Shame (And Neither Should You)!

On the eve of the paperback release of Boyslut: A Memoir and Manifesto, bisexual author, columnist and proud otter Zachary Zane returns to discuss life, releasing ourselves from sexual shame, and our cultural obsession with daddies.

When last we spoke to Zachary Zane, he was preparing for the initial release of Boyslut. Intrigued by his story and looking to work out some of my own hang-ups around sexual shame, I made the interborough trek to a book reading / signing he held in Brooklyn last year.

Unsure of what to expect, I was taken with his honesty and willingness to be so open about his struggles with mental health, his journey to self-acceptance and his efforts to constantly learn and evolve as a person. Strikingly tall and handsome, my initial concerns about his approachability and any commonality between us – he, a muscular, young, otter and me, a middle aged, big-bodied, bear – melted away rapidly once he began his talk.

Yes, naturally our experiences in life were different but I found that a lot of our underlying fears, motivations and coping mechanisms were the same. And these are the same fears, motivations and coping mechanisms that many of us share in the community, which is why I think bears, especially those of us that are a bit more timid to explore our carnal desires, would benefit greatly from reading Boyslut.

So, without further ado here is our catch up with the wonderful Zachary Zane. For a more detailed review of the book and our full conversation from last year click here.

Photo by Morten Solvstrom (@solvstrom)

John Hernandez (JH): What has been the response to Boyslut? 

Zachary Zane (ZZ): Truthfully, it’s been mixed. On the one hand, I’ve received a lot of love, praise, and recognition. The hardcover was published a year ago, and I still receive two to three messages a week from strangers about how my book has changed their lives. 

They share how they feel less shame around their sexuality after having read Boyslut. Many share that they feel empowered to try out new kinks, go to sex parties, or explore non-monogamy. This brings me so much damn joy! Boyslut was also a finalist for two big literary awards—the Publishing Triangle Awards and Lambda Literary Awards. While mainstream validation isn’t why I wrote the book, I gotta admit, it feels damn good. 

Then there were those who, I’m not going to say hated my book—though some surely did—I think were activated by my book. I see some of the negative comments on Goodreads, and I think, I’m not sure if this actually concerns me or my work. Something I wrote triggered you, and because of this, you are reading my work through a very personal (and distorted) lens. 

Of course, there are also things I wish I had written differently. Some of the challenging feedback and commentary I received were super valid, and I plan to address those issues in my next collection of essays!  

JH: What have you learned about yourself by writing the book, releasing it, touring with it, and having people know the intimate details of your love/ sex life?

ZZ: I was not as secure in myself as I thought I was! Honestly, in the weeks leading up to the release of Boyslut, I was an anxious mess! I was very worried about reception as well as people knowing the many mistakes I’ve made in my life and the nasty-ass stuff that turns me on. But I’m proud of myself for pushing through. I’m happy I continued working on myself in therapy. I’m happy I don’t let that fear impede me from continuing to write. 

Photo by Morten Solvstrom (@solvstrom)

JH: All communities, but specifically the bear community, contains people of all shape & sizes, and thus, body image is a big issue for us. Do you have advice for those of us having to navigate shame about our bodies in addition to shame about our sexuality?

ZZ: I mean, first off, read Boyslut—obviously. Second, and I think you’re already doing this by reading Bear World Magazine, find your community. Don’t go to places where bitchy gays eye roll and look you up and down for having some meat on your bones. Don’t go to places where, even if no one is outwardly judging you, you still feel insecure and out of place. 

Instead, find the people who love and embrace you for who you are—who make you feel perfect and sexy as is. This is why I fucking LOVE bears. Bears (and the larger bear community) are so warm, accepting, and (high-key) slutty.

I used to go to P-Town during Bear Week when I had uncles who lived there (and I could crash on their couch for free), and it was always the best week of my year. That’s because bears are cheerleaders. You guys are the best hype men. 

JH: Daddies are a huge contingent of the bear community. In your experience, what do you think fuels the daddy fascination and the current daddy/son role-playing that seems to be all the rage these days?

ZZ: I’m not going to pretend I’m Freud, but if I had to hypothesize, I’d guess it’s some combination of a few things. 

First, simply put, daddy issues. We know many gay/bisexual men have a strained relationship with their fathers. There can be a lot of trauma and pain there, and having sex with “daddies” can stem from wanting love, validation, and attention that we never got from our fathers.

Second, the taboo. Role-playing incest is undeniably taboo, and people get turned on by the taboo. 

Third, daddies often embody a very masculine stereotype that many gay men find attractive. We think of a beard, chest hair, and a Dad bod. And I mean, that’s just sexy as all hell. 

Lastly, it’s part of the cultural zeitgeist right now. Daddies are everywhere, and every gay is calling every other gay daddy in every sexual experience. At first, I wasn’t that into daddies, but then I had some great sex with some older daddies, and they told me to call them daddy, so I did. It was hot. Then some guys started calling me daddy, and I’m like, okay, this is also hot. Then I tried to watch porn, and I typed in “fat ass,” and what came up was “stepdad with a fat ass fucks his stepson,” and so I conditioned myself yet again to daddies. Honestly, I’m at the point where I hope my mom divorces and remarries so that I can fuck my stepdad. 

Boyslut: A Memoir and Manifesto will be published in paperback on May 7, 2024. You can order a copy here!

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John Hernandez

John Hernandez is the Editor in Chief of Bear World Magazine. In addition to bear culture, he specializes in entertainment writing with a special focus on horror and genre films. He resides in New York City with his husband.