Zachary Zane, author of Boyslut: A Memoir and Manifesto, sits down to discuss his book, bisexuality, overcoming shame, his relationship to the bear community, and of course, sex.
Pride month is literally right around the corner. As such, in the coming weeks we will be introducing you to a bunch of wonderful, talented and inspirational people from our community who exemplify unapologetic pride in their ‘bearhood’, their bodies, their gender identities and their sexuality. Zachary Zane is one of these people.
Zachary Zane is a Brooklyn-based columnist, sex expert, and activist whose work focuses on sexuality, culture, and the LGBTQ community. He currently has two columns: “Sexplain It”, the sex and relationship advice column at Men’s Health, and “Navigating Non-Monogamy” at Cosmo, which focuses on his polyamory journey. He is the founder and editor-in-chief of Boyslut Zine, which publishes real sex stories from kinksters worldwide and his work on sexuality and relationships has been published in the New York Times, Rolling Stone, The Washington Post, GQ, OUT, and many others.
Who better to kick off our pride coverage this season, right?!
When we initially covered the release of Zach’s new book Boyslut, the response was both immediate, and quite impressive. Given the decided lack of bisexual representation in the media, Zach struck quite the chord with you guys and that’s great! There are so many misconceptions and prejudices that exist within not only the bear community, but the wider queer community at large when it comes to our bisexual brethren, and Zach has devoted a good portion of his work and this book to help educate (and titillate).
Make no mistake about it, Boyslut absolutely goes there with raunchy sex talk, but the larger message is learning to accept yourself and your desires while releasing the shame that we are indoctrinated with, virtually from the womb. It is a funny, endearing, sexy and eye-opening look into the life of sexual revolutionary whose goal is to share what he’s learned with us on his journey with bisexuality.
A somewhat seasoned boyslut myself, I learned a lot from Zach in this book and would encourage everyone to pick up a copy. It is a quick, insightful read that will entertain you while simultaneously educating you on finer points of handling shame, rejection, polyamory and sexual experimentation.
I recently had the chance to talk with Zachary Zane. Our conversation is presented below.
John Hernandez: You are extremely open in your book about struggles with OCD, alcohol abuse and accepting your own bisexuality. Was reliving all that in your writing traumatic or cathartic and did you come to any new revelations about yourself in the process?
Zachary Zane: Great question! It was both traumatic and cathartic. I struggled with looking back on past relationships and realizing how much I hurt the people I loved. Of course, this wasn’t my intent—it wasn’t done maliciously. But I wasn’t the best partner back then—when I was closeted and insecure—and I didn’t know how to communicate directly. So reflecting on that was challenging. But also, I try to remember I’m not perfect. I was also young and in college—figuring things out like the rest of us.
Regarding revelations, I noticed some patterns in my behavior, specifically when it comes to dating. I’ve noticed a history of finding myself in relationships I didn’t purposefully choose. This can happen with polyamory, or at least it happens to me. If I was monogamous, I would have broken things off with these folks because I knew this person couldn’t fulfill many of my needs. But since I’m polyamorous, and I’m not looking for one person to satisfy all my needs, I keep seeing them since nothing is wrong per se. Before I know it, I’ve been dating someone for six months, and they’re looking for more commitment (understandably so), and I’m left thinking, “How did we end up here?”
John Hernandez: Do you think the presence of any prominent bisexual representation while growing up would have sped you along your journey to self-acceptance? Since you primarily struggled with accepting that you enjoyed sex with men, did homosexual representation help you at all in terms of normalizing sex with men?
Zachary Zane: There was SUCH little bisexual presentation in the late 2000s and early 2010s. I really, really didn’t think male bisexuality was real because I didn’t know a single person who identified as bi. And while I’m egocentric, I’m not delusional! I didn’t think I could be the only bi man in the world. What made it worse was that the few guys in college who did identify as bi came out as gay shortly after.
If there was more bi representation, I think I would have accepted my (bi)sexuality sooner. This is a significant motivator behind this book and my career. It’s why I do my best to be as visible (and loud and annoying) about bisexuality as humanly possible.
As for gay representation, I think it helped to normalize that there’s nothing wrong with having same-sex attractions. But it didn’t actually help me embrace my identity because I’m not actually gay!
John Hernandez: In addition to your writing and book, are there any additional resources for bisexual people struggling to find community and their identity?
Zachary Zane: There are some other great books out there—fiction and nonfiction—which I think can help bi people feel less alone. For example, there’s Jen Winston’s Greedy: Notes from a Bisexual Who Wants Too Much, Vaneet Mehta’s Bisexual Men Exist: A Handbook for Bisexual, Pansexual and M-Spec Men, along with Taylor Jenkin Reid’s The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo. Bi.org is also an excellent resource for bi folks. Then, of course, if you want to read hot, raunchy nonfiction stories about bisexual sex, you should subscribe to my zine, also titled Boyslut.
John Hernandez: I was completely floored (in a good way) by the concept of fraysexuality. I was also touched by your discussion about how the difference between prejudice and preference is openness, which is how you ventured into the plus sized sex arena. What facilitates your desire to learn, experiment and remain open? What pushes you to continue exploring?
Zachary Zane: Honestly, boredom. I get tired of having the same type of sex with the same type of people. I love experiencing new pleasures, kinks, and people. It keeps life exciting and interesting. I’m also, frankly, just fascinated by sex. For me, it’s not just about the pleasure and intimacy (though that’s a big part of it); I love the interpersonal dynamics. I love learning about people’s desires. I love all aspects of sex.
John Hernandez: Have you had any interfacing with the bear community, and if so, what are your thoughts?
Zachary Zane: I used to be SO good about going to Bear Week in P-Town every summer, but I have fallen off since COVID, TBH. It is by far the best week of the year on the cape. Everyone is friendly, and there’s less pretense and bullshit than when I go out in Hell’s Kitchen.
Besides, bears love my two favorite things: eating and fucking. It’s like, you guys are my PEOPLE. And while I might not be a bear or cub myself, I am definitely an otter. (To this day, I don’t think you can find a harrier asshole than mine.) So I feel very welcomed by bears and have fun with you guys. (And God, I love me a big booty, so the sex with bears — *chef’s kiss*.)
John Hernandez: Is there something you’ve yet to do on your sexual bucket list?
Zachary Zane: I have done… a lot. I’m a member of the mile high club, have been sounded, and have been to countless orgies. If there’s something I want to try sexually, I make it happen.
But one thing I’d love to do that I haven’t yet is have a blowbang bukake. I want like ten dicks in my face. I’m gagging on all of them, and then they all cum on my face. I’m getting hard just thinking about it.
John: Hernandez: What has been the reception to the book thus far, and what do you hope people take from it?
Zachary Zane: The reception thus far has been overwhelmingly positive, which I’m surprised by. Boyslut: A Memoir and Manifesto is raunchy, controversial, and extremely fucking queer, so it’s not for everyone. I’m elated it’s reaching its audience—people who can appreciate, learn from, and resonate with my story.
John Hernandez: Shame is something we all struggle with, some more than others. What is the greatest tool in your arsenal to combat shame, of all forms?
Zachary Zane: Two things have really helped me.
First, it’s trying to get to the root of your shame. I hope you don’t mind, but I’m going quote a small section from my book:
“Shame is a tool that people in power use to exert control. Religious conservatives use shame to prevent queer people from living joyfully and authentically. Men slut-shame women to keep women tethered to men. We feel shame for not working overtime because capitalism has told us that our worth is derived from our output. Honestly, shame is a pretty genius method to control the masses.
So never feel shame. Never think that your mere existence is somehow wrong. Instead, when you feel shame, think about why you’re feeling it. Think about who or what is trying to control you. When you better understand the root cause of your shame, you’ll be able to realize it has nothing to do with you and all to do with some ridiculous societal pressures—which hinder, not help. From there, it’s much easier to tell your shame to go fuck itself.”
Second, I think having a friend group and/or community that supports you is helpful. Shame thrives in isolation. So having folks who support you, who you can talk to, who make you feel seen and loved is HUGE for combatting shame.
John Hernandez: What can bears and queer men, in general, do to help uplift bisexual people and be better allies/ promote your visibility?
Zachary Zane: First things first, believe that we’re real. It’s wild that in 2023, I still somehow have to say that, but there are still queer men who believe that every bi man is using the label as a stepping stone to being full-blown gay.
Second, don’t be fucking weird or passive-aggressive when we have female partners or talk about female crushes! We pick up on those micro-aggressions. It doesn’t make us feel supported. It makes us feel like we don’t belong alongside other queer men.
So in short, just be accepting.
John Hernandez: What is next for you?
Zachary Zane: I want to see what new opportunities arise from the book. I would have LOVED to write for Big Mouth or Human Resources but those series are sadly ending. That said, I already have an idea for my next book. I don’t want to share too much just yet, but it’s going to be a novel—a raunchy rom com about a bisexual man in his mid-thirties who feels torn between the gay and straight worlds.
Get your copy of Boyslut: A Memoir and Manifesto HERE.