LOS ANGELES - 32-year-old Zack Ament is a proud gay man today. The 32-year-old is also a doting single dad to 2-year-old Koa. But the journey to his happiness and self-acceptance was a long, sometimes painful, road.
The final 12 steps were the most difficult.
Growing up in Pacific Palisades, Ament said he realized at 13-years-old he was gay. Yet, he did not disclose this truth to anyone. Instead,, he ran.
Zack told me he would steal his parent’s car as they slept, driving to West Hollywood as a 13-year-old desperately hoping to feel more accepted.
At school, he was bullied and called homophobic slurs. And yet, he held his secret close.
As fast as he was running, he was also numbing the pain. Zach said after his Bar Mitzvah, he got drunk for the first time – alone in a room. Eventually, the drugs followed.
By age 16, the secrets had piled up. And Zack’s parents were becoming aware their son was deeply troubled. They sent him away to drug rehab where with the help of a therapist, he finally got the courage to tell his parents he was gay.
Coming out of the closet was liberating, he said. His parents were supportive and empathetic. Seemingly, he was on his way to living a life in the sunlight.
But sobriety is tough work. Zack had another low point before he learned how to diligently work with a program, a template to stay clean and sober. Today, he helps others in their sobriety as Co-Founder and CEO of Westwind Recovery.
During Pride Month, I asked him what his 32-year-old self would tell his 13-year-old self?
"I would tell my 13-year-old self, ‘The sooner you live your truth, the sooner you will be free. Be fierce in showing the world who you are, even when others try to dull your light,'" he said.