Celebrating Bi-Sexuality with Zachary Zane
Zach, thank you for making the time to chat today. How's your day been so far?
So far, so good. I just wrote a ‘Sexplain It’ this morning. That's it, I worked. How about yours?
I actually just had sex!
Well, you're living your best life! A pretty nice Tuesday, not too shabby.
It's very unusual. So I think I'm just gonna give you the credit, as a vibe to start this interview.
Yeah, let's do it! Let's get started here!
Let’s kick off with the juicy stuff, what’re your sex essentials?
Of course, I always have condoms - whether or not I use them is a different question, but you always have them. I use PS condoms, which I absolutely love! They're super thin, they're vegan, they don't have that gross kind of smell that a lot of condoms have so I enjoy that. Always have a bottle of silicone lube, specifically, because I prefer silicone lube for anal. Usually I have one toy that I use quite often: it's from b-vibe and it's a vibrating butt plug that's also a cock ring, and that's often what I wear while topping - which I love!
Well you’d need to be prepared for everything as a noted ‘sexpert’. What is a typical day in the life of a celebrity bisexual?
I write a ton. I'm at my desk probably 60 hours a week, just doing emails! There's a shocking number of emails being a celebrity bisexual and sex writer and I still don't understand how! So I'm writing whether I'm working on a ‘Sexplain It’, working on something for the Boyslut zine, whether I'm working on the two books that are going to be coming out. The first is the Men's Health Best Sex Ever book or working on my manifesto memoir, so it's just a lot of writing.
I have a pretty active social life. And I'd say it's so funny because on social media, I share the one story of the week that was that wild sex story, but like the rest of the week, it's pretty standard, you know what I mean? I'm seeing friends, I'm on Sniffies, which is a queer cruising app. I like it a lot more than Grindr. So quite often, I am having casual sex throughout the day, which I enjoy. But you know, I'm stoned watching cartoons half of the evenings as well. But about once or twice a week, I have like a really fun sexual encounter - I had four guys come over recently for a little group gangbang, and also had some folks over for an MMFFF orgy recently. I set it up where I had two beds, my queen-size bed, and then I brought up the air mattress that I just put directly next to it for the overflow. So once or twice a week, I host something or go to a sex party or just have a fun, kinky sexual encounter with someone I met online. Otherwise, it's a pretty standard life, I like to think…maybe not… who knows?
We were not sex negative at all, and yet, I grew up with such sex negativity and such internalized shame! It just kind of shows the pervasiveness of how we soak up messages from the media, in school and friends and everything. Even having supportive parents in an accepting queer-affirming household is not enough to combat all of these things.
I can’t say I can relate! So how did your sex life kind of evolve into this “Boyslut” brand?
It's interesting! I mean, I started writing in 2015 about bisexuality and it's since expanded to everything sex, dating and relationships. I just kept writing and writing and trying to build my following. It’s cool, I've reached a point where I sometimes get stopped on the street, which is kind of crazy. Recently, I went out to a sex club with a new woman I’d started dating, and around ten people came up to me said “Hello,” and how excited they are to meet me, and my date asked, “Are you famous?” I'm like “No, no, no, I'm not! However, in the sex positive poly scene in Brooklyn? Yes, I am in this one small subsection of the world”. But in the real world? Absolutely not! I have more and more exciting projects that come out, which I'm really looking forward to that I think will get me in front of new people and add more visibility, which I'm really excited for.
You’ve got our mouths watering! What are you excited to develop with this platform in the future?
Yeah, Men’s Health Best. Sex. Ever. is out now! But the main thing I’ve been writing is Boyslut: A Memoir and Manifesto, that’s available for pre-order! I've been working on this since 2018, and it comes out May 9, 2023. A lot of the book is dedicated to how to unlearn all the harmful bullshit that society has taught you about sex and relationships. One thing I discuss is, I grew up in a sex positive household and a queer friendly household. I have more gay uncles on both sides of my family than I do, aunts and uncles. I knew it was okay to be gay. We were not sex negative at all, and yet, I grew up with such sex negativity and such internalized shame! It just kind of shows the pervasiveness of how we soak up messages from the media, in school and friends and everything. Even having supportive parents in an accepting queer-affirming household is not enough to combat all of these things. So I like the idea of my book not being like, ‘I experienced some level of trauma and therefore I'm sex negative, or therefore I have internalized homophobia’, but as someone who didn't and yet still struggled immensely, it's just a story I also haven't seen told either so I'm very excited to share that.
It’s fantastic to see a bisexual role model really come into the fore, how did you come to know you were bi?
It was a journey…the thing is, I expected to have this lightbulb moment, this revelation when I hooked up with a guy where my lips would touch his lips and I would know immediately like, “oh, this is what passion is, I'm definitely gay, all my relationships with women have been fake, and I've been pretending, and this is what love is, this is what attraction is”. Or I'd have the opposite, where I'd touch the guy's lips and be like, “no, no, I don't like this, this is not for me”. The thing is, I didn't have a polarizing response, which kind of confused me even more. I thought, okay, I got hard, so maybe I was attracted to him, but I'd also get hard looking at a particularly plump tomato because I'm 18 years old. I didn't hate it. I didn't love it. So I was confused and I was in denial, and I rationalized and I engaged in really unhealthy and risky sexual behavior. After college, I decided to specifically see an LGBTQ affirming therapist. During a session I'm rambling about being confused and he says, “I'm gonna cut you off here because you asked me, before seeing me, to be blunt and I'd like to be blunt. Because when we say confused in terms of sexuality, from a therapeutic lens, it actually means something specific. You don't sound confused. You sound very clearly bisexual, is there something I'm missing?” And I said, “oh, that shit doesn't exist in men”, and he replied “Zach, you're too smart to think that”, which honestly I think was the best response he could have given.
I imagine this kind of discovery is a common experience for people who write to your column?
I think there's definitely a growing amount of bisexual visibility, but when I started writing almost a decade ago, there was very little, so I hear from men and women, but predominantly men, who say, “I didn't know anyone who had the same experience as me, I've never met an out bisexual person, just knowing that I am not alone makes me feel so much better”. So many of the questions that I get, there's always an underlying question to it: Am I normal? Is this normal? Is this okay? And it's a tough question to answer because, well, what does it mean to be normal? I think we're all so different and diverse, but I think often what they're defining as normal or thinking as normal is “how common is this?” I'm often replying, even if .01% of the population has your kink, there are 8 billion people in the world. So what does that mean? There are 800,000 People who have your kink so no, you are not alone at all. I think a lot of it is people feeling alone, feeling abnormal, feeling shame.
What I love is how I remember when I first came out as bi, women would refuse to date me and then they would think I was really gay, or using them as a stepping stone, or they were too insecure. They believed negative stereotypes for one of a million reasons, and now I've reached a point in my life where women specifically want to sleep and date me because I'm bi and I'm like, “what the fuck? This is awesome! This is absolutely awesome!”
Do you feel that bisexuality is becoming a possibility for not just the heterosexual community, but also other members of the queer community?
That was the first ‘Sexplain It’ that I got, and I thought it was so interesting because I hadn't even thought about this, but this group of emerging bi people - especially men - who have been gay their whole lives, and then realize “oh 15 years ago, I didn't realize my [bi]sexuality was real, so I just kind of went with gay because I was definitely more attracted to men and I'm more feminine, but now it is real and I'm interested in exploring”. The guy who wrote it said “I think my gay friends will just be like ‘what the fuck?’ and I'm afraid of being ostracized from the gay community”. And I think “well, fuck, that's a risk! Also your friends kind of suck, but you know, maybe you can say like, ‘I just want to try this’ and ‘all the kids are bi these days, I want to do it’ and hopefully they're open to it. What I love is how I remember when I first came out as bi, women would refuse to date me and then they would think I was really gay, or using them as a stepping stone, or they were too insecure. They believed negative stereotypes for one of a million reasons, and now I've reached a point in my life where women specifically want to sleep and date me because I'm bi and I'm like, “what the fuck? This is awesome! This is absolutely awesome!”
You don’t feel fetishised by that?
A little. I think the majority of the time, these women are embracing and accepting and then there were some times were just, “I need to see you fuck a man and suck a dick” and I say “you know what, that's fine, too, if you want to join, we all win here!” But I think you're right, I think the vast majority of the time it's not fetishizing, it's coming from a place of acceptance and that's beautiful.
So how did you respond to the man who wanted explore his bisexuality after identifying as gay for years?
I said he should let people know on social media, but just know that he’s gonna get fewer responses on social media or whatever it is. You can ask a straight girlfriend like, hey, I want to try this or get online and find the group of women who love bi dudes which is an emerging group and there are many of them who would be so turned on and so excited by the idea of taking your “straight virginity”. I guess what I'm answering with a lot of your questions is like, find the right people. There's enough of everyone out there and yes, you will get rejected a shit tonne and there will be a tonne of women, especially if you were previously gay, who don't want to meet you - fine, that's their prerogative. If there’s one thing I've learned in writing, it’s that no community is small; they're just like a jillion people who always have a match no matter how kinky you are, no matter what your desires are, no matter if you’re poly, there's always a match out there.
That’s a wonderful philosophy, though not without its complexities? Being so liberal and liberated sexually, do people assume you’re always up for it because of your reputation?
Yeah, I don’t have sex with every single person who DMs me; that's not how this works. I've run into issues of trying to reject people kindly and people lashing out. Or if I have sex with someone once, I'm trying to get better instead of lying and saying “Oh, I'm super busy” just being honest, “I had a really fun time, I think it's gonna be a one night thing. I don't really see this going anywhere, but I wish you the best” and I've said that and people just come for me, which makes you question your choice to be more direct, but I've tried to tell myself they're angry, they're hurt, two months from now I'm sure they're probably happy I didn't carry this on longer and lead them on. So I try to be honest from the get-go, letting them know I'm busy, just trying to get better and better.
As much of the queer community has discovered, with visibility comes challenges of definition and lateral violence. What challenges do you see the bisexual community facing?
I see a lot of internalized biphobia. It often manifests in an inability to embrace being bisexual or saying the term, and one thing I tell people is that labels should be helpful. They are good, they encourage exploration, I love the bisexual label. I felt so confused beforehand, having this label and this identity really made me feel part of the community and allowed me to further explore my attractions to people. For some it’s the opposite; if the label is what's intimidating right now then focus just on what you want to do without a label, explore, and maybe a label will come later and maybe it won't, and that's okay. In terms of internalized homophobia, it's tough obviously, so getting into therapy and really finding communities of bisexual people. There's such a large bisexual presence online, which is a beautiful thing that's emerged in the past five years - there's a whole bisexual Tiktok! Reddit is honestly a great source if you're confused and want to talk to people anonymously. Twitter as well. That's all a really important way to feel connected to other people and to help get over any internalized biphobia that you may have.
I think I'm pretty good at body language cues, so by the time I've asked, ‘can I kiss you?’ I am 97% sure that the answer is a resounding yes.
Perfect segue into my last question: what is your advice for people wanting to explore?
Thank God for the interwebs, you know what I mean?! It's so much easier now. I don't necessarily recommend if, let's say you're realizing you're a bi man, you could go on Grindr, and easily pound one out, but maybe for the first couple of times, let's kind of ease our way in, go ahead and maybe use an app that's a little bit slower, like Tinder, Hinge or something and be like, ‘hey, new to exploring my sexuality. I would love to try this with someone’ and just be very blunt, and know that way that you're gonna get a lot of people not responding, but the ones who do are legit! Find a match where you're open and honest about your lack of experience, because if you're not, I think you'd be anxious in your head, and then finding someone who is either equally lacking experience with you or very much okay, and even excited about your lack of experience, I think would be the best way to do it.
OK, no wait, this is my last question, because that approach to rejection is amazing. How do you make your move with that?
I'm lucky in that I don't take rejection super personally, I think I'm pretty good at that. I'm bad at rejecting people, especially with my brand being I fuck everyone all the time. I think I'm pretty good at body language cues, so by the time I've asked, ‘can I kiss you?’ I am 97% sure that the answer is a resounding yes. There are times when I've definitely been flirting with someone at a sex party and I'm there to have sex so I don't waste too much time before asking, ‘can I kiss you?’, ‘can I do this’ and I've definitely had people say, “oh, I'm not feeling it” and then I just make sure to kind of continue the conversation for about a minute, because if you leave on that awkward note then you're just gonna have a really awkward conversation whenever you see that person ever again. So I think if you can just keep it light and moving, say “yeah, totally understand, maybe some other time” and then if they want to they can come up to me.
So, ok I’m gonna try this out for my final last question. When I come up to New York, can I kiss you?
You can find Zachary Zane on Twitter and Instagram, check out the ‘Sexplain It’ columns on the Men’s Health website, subscribe to the ‘Boyslut’ zine and get your hands on his books now, with Boyslut: A Manifesto and Memoir available for pre-order.