Zachary Zane has never shied away from discussing his own sexual exploits in (extremely) graphic detail, but it’s not just for the shock value. The Men’s Health sex advice columnist is on a mission to de-stigmatize sex for everyone, regardless of gender or sexual orientation, and he argues there’s one way to do that: to get loud and explicit. 

As Zane writes in his new book, Boyslut: A Memoir and Manifesto, “We need to be able to talk about [sex] openly. Recently I’ve seen a de-emphasis on sex when discussing sexuality, especially bisexuality. I think we hope that this neutered form of visibility makes us more palatable to a sex-negative, mainstream audience. But that doesn’t benefit anyone. Not talking about something that we all do isn’t going to solve anything. We’ve attempted to sweep sex under the rug for centuries, and look where that’s gotten us.”

In his recently released memoir, Zane provides nuanced (and, at times, controversial) commentary on topics like sexual shame, porn “addiction,” bisexuality, and polyamory. In the exclusive excerpt of Boyslut below, he recounts the time he first had penetrative sex with a man — which, not coincidentally, was after he first tried cocaine.


BY THE END OF COLLEGE, I knew that I desperately needed to have penetrative sex with a man, but I was afraid to admit that desperate desire. The desire existed right below the threshold of consciousness, yet this latent need seemingly guided my actions for the past four years. It’s why I woke up in the beds of countless men, naked and hungover, unsure of how I got there or what we did. It’s why I took multiple queer theory courses. It’s why I relished playing spin the bottle with my a cappella group. It gave me carte blanche to make out with guys without it being gay. And it’s why I ended up at the apartment of my friend Jackson, who had told my past girlfriend, while we were monogamous, “I’m going to fuck your boyfriend if it’s the last thing I do.”

So, there I was at 7:30 on my last Wednesday night before graduation, watching Jackson cook a rotisserie chicken in his tiny apartment. To give you a sense of its size, I felt claustrophobic when I walked in, and I’m someone who prefers pooping in the smaller stalls, but this — this was a lot even for me.

Jackson, who is now a beefy gay porn star with an ass that launched 1,000 ships, was then just Jack, a twinky aspiring composer with an ass that launched a mere 500 ships. Jack was very handsome but not intimidatingly so. I could look and talk to him without getting too distracted. He was also confident, consistently getting men to sleep with him, without being aggressive. That finesse was key since I wasn’t going to make the first move.

Courtesy of Abrams Books

After a few minutes at his place, Jack began cutting lines of cocaine on his little kitchen countertop in between checking the temperature of the chicken with a thermometer.

I had managed to make it to my senior year without trying coke, which wasn’t a simple feat. While I’d been offered on repeated occasions, I always politely declined. Cocaine was one of my no-no drugs, whereas marijuana, shrooms, acid, and drinking two Four Lokos were totally chill.

But like on Passover, this night was different from all other nights. So when Jack offered, I paused before responding with absolutely zero conviction, “I better not.” He sensed my false decline, so when he insisted, I not so reluctantly acquiesced. It was my last week of college, and a general sentiment of YOLO was in the air. Everyone was desperately trying to do all the things and people they hadn’t yet.

I was hoping cocaine would give me a heightened version of liquid courage. I knew it boosted confidence and lowered inhibitions, which was exactly what I needed to have sex with a man. Even though I was definitely only there to eat his chicken and not his cake.

After snorting a fat line, I felt like every bone in my body was going to jump out and dance a 1920s jig. I was flooded with fleeting thoughts but couldn’t focus on one.

Come 9:45, the chicken was not ready, and I had not stuck my penis into Jack’s butt. I hadn’t even kissed him. I was hoping — though totally not hoping — that something sexual would have happened by now. Alas, I had to attend rehearsal for my a cappella group, of which I was the president. Yes, I was the head of my a cappella group at Vassar College and somehow thought I was straight. Jack said I should come back after, and this was when I actually gave a hard no.

“Zach, you haven’t even tried my chicken yet, and there’s no way you’re going to sleep with how much coke you did. Just come back over,” he said. I couldn’t argue with his logic.

The next hour and a half dragged. I kept checking my phone every four minutes to see if rehearsal was over. My legs couldn’t stop shaking, and everyone was speaking at a glacial pace. At exactly 11:30, I dismissed them and ran back to Jack’s apartment.

He wasn’t in his loungewear like last time. He was wearing a semi-translucent button-down shirt and a pair of tight black jeans revealing his perfectly sculpted bubble butt. (Okay, 750 ships!) Arsema, his roommate who slept on the twin bed next to his, was there and also dressed to the nines.

Arsema was one of my best friends. There was never any sexual tension between us because she identified as asexual. Knowing that she had no interest in sex, I quickly got over how attractive I found her because she was stunning. Still, even when we were naked or half-naked, our interactions were always platonic. Once, our mutual friend walked into her dorm room to find the two of us lying on her bed. I was shirtless, and Arsema was brushing my chest hair with a comb. “You guys are so weird,” she said. “Make sure you clean out my brush before you put it back.” That was the type of strange, intimate friendship we had.

“Why are you guys dressed up?” I asked them.

“We’re going out to a gay club,” Jack said as if the answer was obvious.

There were no clubs in Poughkeepsie, and there definitely weren’t any gay clubs. “I’m sorry, what?”

“Yeah, my friend is this big New York City drag queen, and we can get in for free and get bottle service.”

This sounded incredibly suspect. It was a random Wednesday night in Poughkeepsie. Why on Earth would an NYC drag queen be upstate hosting a party? And bottle service? What?

Confused, I turned to Arsema. “Are you going out?” “Yup, and if I’m doing this shit, you are, too,” she replied.

Whether it was peer pressure, cocaine, or the fact that I didn’t but also really did want to have sex with Jack, I found myself going to a gay club in Poughkeepsie on a Wednesday night. I did so despite knowing that my seminar grade depended on not vomiting during my presentation the next day.

Since I wasn’t wearing appropriate clubbing attire, Jack said I could borrow one of his shirts, which I’m going to go ahead and simply describe as gay. A fifteen-minute Uber ride later, and lo and behold, there was a massive club in an area of Poughkeepsie I had never explored, which, to be fair, was the vast majority of Poughkeepsie. Inside, there were a total of five people sitting around a table, drinking vodka sodas. After Jack introduced us to the drag queen, we spent the next two hours pounding vodka soda after vodka soda until we ditched the soda and went for straight shots, taking conspicuous key bumps between rounds. Since drunk Zach had a thing for men, it didn’t take long until Jack and I were hardcore smooching.

My hands freely roamed his body but always made their way back to his ass. (Fine, 900 ships!) Touching those plump cheeks made my dick involuntarily pulse and rub my zipper, which only made me harder. By the time we left, Jack, Arsema, and I were past wasted. Still, Arsema knew to give Jack and me some alone time back at the apartment. We opened the door and fell onto the mattress — our limbs entangled as we gave each other wet, open-mouth kisses. Then he slid off his skinny jeans, revealing his bare ass. The sight of his jockstrap nearly sobered me up. I didn’t know then how ubiquitous jockstraps were in the gay community. I thought it was this wild thing that only a handful of really kinky guys were into. Seeing it confirmed what I was about to do: fuck a dude in the butt.

COCAINE WILL ALWAYS HOLD a special place in my heart because it gave me the confidence to explore my sexuality. (A weird win for cocaine, I’m aware.) But before cocaine, it was alcohol and cannabis. Over the course of five years, I’d hooked up with several men, and I was always very fucked-up — like can’t-walk-in-a-straight-line fucked-up.

Of course, I’m not the only queer man who has required drugs or alcohol to be sexually intimate with men. Many closeted men need liquid or powdered courage to act on their feelings. Many out men do, too. I know guys who can only have sex with other dudes when they’re drunk, and they have been out as gay for years.

It’s not an accident queer men have significantly higher rates of drug and alcohol use than straight men. It’s not that we party more than straight guys — though some of us definitely do. It’s that many queer men cannot embrace same-sex intimacy sober. Often, shame is the cause. In my case, it was a combination of uncertainty and fear (with, of course, a little bit of shame sprinkled in). I didn’t know what I wanted, or at least not consciously, but when I was fucked-up, I could just act without thinking.

Then, while I logically knew that there wasn’t anything shameful about being queer, I think I also knew, deep down, that once I embraced being queer, my life would change forever. My politics, my community, my everything would be different. For two decades, I thought I was a cis, white straight dude and, as such, lived a privileged life. Thinking about the struggles of being part of a marginalized community was scary. You know what helped me not think about or feel this pressure? Drugs and alcohol! Shove that shit up my nose, damn it. Put my big schnoz to use!

While I had a moment of sobriety amidst fucking Jack when I admitted to having an attraction to men —looking him in the eyes and allowing myself to enjoy the experience — I was back to my mental gymnastics the next day. Somehow, I managed to get even more limber.

This time the blame was on cocaine. Drugs and alcohol were my get-out-of-gay-jail-free card that I kept using over and over again. You better believe I used it with Jack, too. Somehow, no one had ever called me out on my bullshit. No one said, “If you like doing this drunk, you probably like doing this sober.” I doubt I would have been receptive to hearing that, but I’m still surprised no one ever said it.

By the time I was 21, I had spent four years surrounded by queer men, women, and nonbinary folks at Vassar. I didn’t think being gay was wrong; in hindsight, I’ve realized it was my aversion to ambiguity — not knowing who I was attracted to — that was holding me back. I’ve always craved clarity. So saying out loud, “I am confused with my sexuality, and I don’t know who I’m genuinely attracted to,” was not an option. My OCD brain simply could not handle that level of uncertainty.

There was also a part of me that knew that “confused” or “questioning” was synonymous with “gay and in denial.”

Zachary Zane

Courtesy of Abrams Books

“Questioning” is a part of the larger LGBTQQIP2SAA acronym. The fact that “questioning” is the second Q in the expanded alphabet soup proves my point. The queer gods responsible for adding new letters were like, “Yeah, the questioning guys are definitely faggots, so let’s throw ’em in preemptively.”

I do not believe that questioning your sexuality automatically makes you a member of the LGBTQ community. We all question some element of our sexuality. I’ve had friends who questioned and realized, nope, they’re straight. They’re just a little more creative, effeminate, and love drag — attributes that can exist alongside heterosexuality. I love those friends deeply, but they are not members of the LGBTQ community, nor do they claim to be.

But there was also something else: I didn’t want to give others the opportunity to explain my sexuality to me. Telling people I was confused and questioning did just that. The last thing I needed was another gay man pedantically saying, “You’re definitely gay, sweetie,” then trying to kiss me. Like, I would prefer if you didn’t use my confusion and vulnerability to take sexual advantage of me. I know that’s a tough ask, but could you not?

So, straight and in denial I was. I sunk my teeth into that identity and remained there until my therapist illuminated another option. (Spoiler: It starts with a b.)

While I undoubtedly had my personal aversion to confusion, we, as a society, need to let people of all ages be confused. Actually — we need to give people the option to explore freely, without judgment or labels. Really, that’s all I was doing. I was exploring elements of my sexuality until I figured out that I’m a greedy bisexual stereotype who wants it all. But I needed to get there in my own way, on my own time.

Whereas confusion is passive, exploration is active. Exploration is fun and exciting. Confusion is, well, confusing. While I didn’t need cocaine to explore, I did need it to break the anxiety-inducing cycle of confusion.


To be honest, I still get a little sloshed from time to time when I have sex with men. If I can’t get hard because of whiskey dick, I plop down on my stomach and prop my ass up in the air. It’s still a fun time! Now, however, I have a lot of sober sex with men, too. I have sex sober even when I’m nervous about trying a kink I never have before. I have sober sex when I’m excited to explore something completely novel. Because only when you have sex sober can you start really understanding who you are and what you want. And what I really want, what I’ve always wanted, is to be able to enjoy the ass that launched 1,000 ships.

Excerpt from the new book Boyslut: A Memoir and Manifesto by Zachary Zane, published by Abrams Image ©2023