In this interview, Gay Therapy Center Director & Founder Adam Blum speaks with author Zachary Zane about his new book titled “Boyslut” and they discuss topics including expressing your bisexuality and the trials and tribulations of online dating.
Running time: 13 minutes
Bisexuality & Online Dating: An Interview With Boyslut Author Zachary Zane
Adam Blum: Well, Zachary Zane is incredibly funny. And he just wrote this terrific book about bisexuality. It’s called Boyslut. Yeah, we both got it. All right. Really great reviews. One of the best books I’ve read this year. And I totally agree with Dan Savage, who calls him one of the, quote best sex writers working today. So welcome, Zachary.
Zachary Zane: Thank you so much for having me on! Excited to delve in here.
Adam Blum: All right! Well, you have coined a new term, I’m probably it’s trending on Twitter or something like that.
Zachary Zane: Yeah.
Adam Blum: But the term is bisexual audibility. What’s that?
Zachary Zane: Yeah. Sure. So I think we’re more familiar with the phrase bisexual visibility, or just the concept of visibility more generally. But bisexual visibility is a little bit more challenging than other types of visibility for marginalized groups, right? Because unless if you have a man on one arm and a woman on the other arm and a non binary person on the arm, people don’t know that you’re bisexual, they assume that if you are a man in a relationship with another man, that you’re gay, man relationship with women that you’re straight.
And, you know, like, I always think about it in terms of like, how Dove does those campaigns where they like to try to get like marginalized people in it. And when they do that, like if they do a campaign that features all you know, dark skinned black women, we know this is a win for visibility, it’s very clear for whom we’re being visible for. Same if we do like a body positive campaign. We can just kind of tell by looking who’s being visible. But you can’t with bisexuality. You know, if you had a bunch of bi people lined up, you would have to say at the bottom, like all these people are actually bisexual.
So it’s a little bit more challenging to be visibly bisexual, which is why I kind of coined the term bisexual audibility, and the idea here is that we actually need to be talking about bisexuality, we need to use the label bisexual.
Right now bisexual people are significantly less likely to come out than their gay and lesbian peers, to come out to important people in their life, to people are at work, to their lovers, to their partners. And part of the reason why is because people don’t say the word bisexual, they don’t embrace the label. So I think it’s just really important for us to be as loud and obnoxious about bisexuality as humanly possible. And I feel like that’s kind of what I’m doing. And really, yeah, advocating for talking about it, since we can’t be by sexually visible the same way.
Adam Blum: Well, thank you for being one of the loudest bisexual people that I have come across.
Zachary Zane: My pleasure.
Adam Blum: Shame is a big theme in your book. And, frankly, think shame is the number one issue that most queer people have to deal with at some point in their life. And you write about a mindset that to make a quote, easier to tell shame to go fuck yourself.
Zachary Zane: Yeah.
Adam Blum: You want to share about that?
Zachary Zane: Yeah, I have to remember what I wrote here. But I think what I was discussing in this context is that like, shame is often used as a tool for people in power to sustain and maintain their power.
Shame is a way that they [people in power] control people.
So you know, like straight people, you know, slut shame women. And that’s the way to keep like a woman tethered to one man. You know, often we feel shame for not working hard enough. And that’s just because capitalism has taught us that we should be working and working and working. And so then it gets us to work harder and harder and feeling like we need to work all the time. So shame is a way that like, often, like people in power, entities in power, kind of sustain their power and keep the masses in line.
So often, what I like to do is try to figure out where is the shame coming from. So is the shame coming from, you know, a religion, from society, from my parents? And when I can actually really get to the root of the shame, and realize, oh, this is not something I actually feel bad about. It’s something I was told I should feel bad about. It’s much easier to kind of tell your shame to go fuck itself. So it really is important, I think to get to the root. One thing I’ve heard recently is when you feel shame is whose voice do you hear it in? So, If you hear it in your mom’s voice, do you hear it in your pastor’s voice? Then I think we have a better understanding. And you can kind of look at the larger societal picture here that’s trying to instill shame in you, you can be like, this is this has nothing to do with me, and I should not be feeling this way.
I think another thing to combat shame–and I talked about a lot in this book–is really having community, and friends, and people you can talk to about this.
I feel like shame thrives in isolation. It really does.
When you are alone and you feel shameful. You feel like no one understands you. You feel like everyone hates you. You feel like you’re disgusting, gross, you know, one of a million things, and it’s very easy for you to start kind of having this negative shame spiral and just kind of going deeper and deeper down this rabbit hole. But when you’re able to kind of talk it out with someone–of course, that’s where therapy comes in handy too–but just having a support system of friends to kind of like help you get out of your head can just be really helpful. It kind of pumps the brakes before shame kind of becomes this all-encompassing entity that kind of takes you over.
Adam Blum: Yeah, you should be a therapist.
Zachary Zane: Thank you! I almost was going to be a therapist. I was gonna get actual–Well, I was gonna focus on research. I was getting a PhD in Clinical Psychology, and then started writing about butt-sex. And here we are.
Adam Blum: So–Here we are, the rest is history.
Zachary Zane: Butt-sex also extremely therapeutic. So uh, in a way I am doing therapy.
Adam Blum: Hey, well, that is a great segue. Because you talk a lot about sex. And you particularly talk a lot about kinks in this book. And you’re right, kinks are common.
What do you want us to know about kinks?
Zachary Zane: I think what I really wanted to address with kinks is, like, you are not alone. And I kind of say this in the book where I’m like, I am not special. And that was actually one of the biggest, like revelations that I had. And it doesn’t mean that I’m not unique, or whatever it is, but like my experience, in terms of like embracing my bisexuality, my kinks, my fetishes, all of that. There are kajillions of other people that have it, too. And we’re lucky right now to live in an era where it’s so much easier to meet other people that share your kinks. You know, we have things like FetLife, we have recon. If you’re looking, you know, for more open relationship types do we have Feeld but like, we have ways to connect with other people have your kinks.
So I think it’s really important–again, this is kind of like goes back to the shame thing too–when you think you’re the only person in the world with this kink, that you’re gonna think that it’s you’re disgusting, you’re gross, you’re deviant, you’re different.
But when you actually look at the prevalence–prevalency of it, you realize like, oh my god, they’re another million people that have it. And so a lot of also what I was talking about the book is no matter what your relationship is to sex, or to kinks, or your like relationship orientation, in terms of monogamy, polyamory, there are other people like you and you can find a match. You just have to put yourself out there. You have to use the apps, you have to meet people, you have to go to meetup spaces. But you don’t have to sacrifice parts of yourself because you feel like you’re so special, you’re so unique, you’re so different. Like, I guarantee you, there’s someone else who will complement your sexuality, and the challenge is finding them.
Adam Blum: Let’s talk more about finding people and matching, and you write, quote that Grindr is the unhappiest app.
Zachary Zane: Well, that was a study that actually showed that I don’t want to be like I you know– That was a study that said that.
Adam Blum: That was the study. But I want you to elaborate on sort of how do you manage Grindr? And how do you manage getting sex and getting love? It’s complicated. You know, what are your tips around that?
Zachary Zane: It’s–Grindr is–it’s so–it’s so interesting. It’s just like a phenomenon that this thing exists.
I feel like every queer man who’s been on Grindr has had a tumultuous relationship with it.
There are very few people I know who’s like, “I’ve had a completely healthy relationship with Grindr.” Like I don’t think those words have ever been spoken. So I think, you know, all queer men kind of know, just the level of racism, femmephobia, transphobia, fatphobia, and just people being truly awful to each other on this app. Which is like–okay, just because you don’t want to fuck someone doesn’t mean you have to be an asshole. They can say like, “Hey, you’re cute, but I’m not interested,” or “hey, I’m not looking right now.” Like, whatever it is. You don’t have to go on this tirade, calling this person disgusting.
It’s the common phrase like, hurt people hurt people.
It’s like, I know, the people who are engaging terribly on Grindr are the people who say like, oh, I’m on my way over, and then you douche and get ready. And then you’re like, “Hey, are you coming?” And then they just block you for no reason. Like, I know, these people aren’t happy. I know, these people aren’t fulfilled in their life, like–and I want to extend them some sympathy because of that, of course, it doesn’t excuse their behavior. Your past trauma doesn’t excuse you from being an asshole, you should be working through it instead of lashing out at other people in your community. So, Grindr is challenging, Grindr’s challenging. But to answer that actually get to your question here.
So how do I engage with it in a way that is, like, healthy and doesn’t make me want to lose my mind?
I really do have like clear parameters for when I use it. You know, when I’m out with friends, I’m not using it. I’m not checking it when I go to the bathroom. If I’m out on the dates, you know, like there’s times where I used to be out on dates and I check Grindr right when I was in bathroom. I’m like, well, I’m clearly not being present with this person on my date, not giving them a chance. So, really making sure that I only use Grindr when I’m alone, when I have free time, when I’m not on a deadline, you know what I mean? Once like, okay, I’m putzing around at night, it’s 9pm, I’m stoned. I can spend the next 45 minutes, sending some nudes and flirting with some people, and maybe someone would come over and maybe someone won’t.
But I also think it’s good to kind of set time limits, because otherwise you can be on it for like five hours, not have sex, and you’re like, oh my god, I just wasted–do that once in a while, fine. But if you find yourself doing that multiple times a week, that is a time-suck. And so I try to be like, if no one’s coming over in 20 minutes, I’m going to cut my losses, jack off, and go to bed.
I also think another thing is, and I get this, you know, from writing the sex and relationship advice column at Men’s Health, and I have a lot of queer men write in because it’s usually my followers are the one who’s writing and so it’s a very queer column. But when they’re like, “oh, yeah, I’m having trouble finding a boyfriend.” I’m like, “Well, where were you looking?” Like, yeah, you know, I’m on Grindr, and Scruff, and like, I can’t find one. And I’m like, you’re on an app dedicated to casual, anonymous sex, and you’re frustrated that you can’t find your boyfriend? And don’t get me wrong. There are plenty of people who’ve met their boyfriends through Grindr, and Scruff and all of that, but that’s not the correct app for it.
You know, if you’re looking for actually someone to date, you should maybe get on hinge you should get on Bumble, you should like actually go out on dates with someone like someone coming over. Even if you have great sex, like someone coming over saying three words having great sex, they’re out of your apartment in 30 minutes. While that is fun, and incredible, and amazing. That’s probably not going to lead to a serious relationship.
You need to kind of put in the work and prioritize it.
So I think there’s kind of that discrepancy there, where gay men are like– who really wants a boyfriend and stand are wasting your time on Grindr. And again, you can want both. And I’m kind of in that camp, like that’s like, I do want a boyfriend, but I also like having casual sex, so I’m not going to stop having casual sex till I find a boyfriend, and I’d like to still have casual sex when I have a boyfriend being in a poly-relationship. But just making sure you’re actually balancing this correctly, and you’re not spending too much time having the casual sex because I’m really prioritizing, like actually going on dates and meeting people.
Adam Blum: Nice. Yeah, I would love to keep talking to you. And we could talk about this for an hour.
Zachary Zane: Oh, of course!
Adam Blum: We’re not gonna do that. I want to just thank you for coming today to talking about your book. I think it’s a really important book. I urge everyone to take a look at it. Yep, there it is.
Zachary Zane: Yeah, “Boyslut: A Memoir and Manifesto” sold everywhere books are sold.
On Amazon, just make sure to write it as one word. And that’s actually on purpose, because if it was two words, we would have been flagged because of the word “slut” in it. So it actually had to be one word. So if you type it in two words, you got the algorithm kind of goes nuts because it triggers as a bad word. So Boyslut one word.
And yeah, you can follow me on, like, Twitter and Instagram. I’m trying to get off Twitter for my mental health. Unfortunately, I have to be on it to promote my book and sell my writing. So I’m more on Instagram, and that’s @ZacharyZane_, and my website is Zacharyzane.com. And if you reach out there, I’ll make sure to respond. Well, I think anyone who reads your book, no matter who they are, they’re going to let go of yet another layer of shame around sex, around who they are. We always have another layer to let go. And the good news is you’re also going to laugh out loud while you’re letting go of shame. So thank you. Thank you!