Zack Ament’s youth, beaming smile, and carefree laugh are merely a delightful surface of a truly purposeful character. I think of him as an old soul and a spiritual warrior in stealth mode. His modesty and jovial persona may camouflage these traits but what lies beneath is wisdom and it runs deep.
If you’re in bad spirits, Zack will pick up on it and hone in with self-effacing, warm charm. He’ll listen and probably land in with some of the best advice you’ve heard that will leave you feeling better. It’s just who he is. Friends can count on him for that. I know this first-hand because he’s helped me on a number of occasions when I thought things were hopeless.
This wisdom is inherent to who he is as a good human but his personal story refined him further. He’s been in the foxhole like the rest of us. When I first met him Christmas of 2010, he was fresh off being a hot mess. He had just two days sober somewhere shy of his twenty-first birthday. He said he was done fucking around and didn’t want to hide what it was like either. One of my first memories of our friendship was going to Kinkos with him to blow up his mugshot photo from a previous arrest for disorderly conduct. His face was bloated and eyes bloodshot. He was not “a vision for you.” He looked like Elijah Wood in a tragic afterschool special. He’d been through hell and in classic self-effacing Zack fashion shared this “glamour shot” whenever he told his story to a group of fellow recovering alcoholics. He was serious about turning his life around and being a better person.
For the last nine years, I’ve been watching him do just that. Not only as a man, but as a professional. Several years ago, he and his husband embarked on a career with others to run a recovery program to help people kick addiction. I believe he sets a good example in his business while keeping that same upbeat, honest spirit I loved about Zack the day I met him in those early days of recovery. He’s found his calling and through it success; without changing who he is.
Simply put, Zack is one of the good guys.
How long have you been out and who was the hardest person to tell?
I came out when I was 16. My parents were the people I most struggled with telling. Not only were they the first people I told—so I had difficulty finding the right words—but I also felt badly for keeping such a big secret from them for so long.
Who’s your LGBT hero?
When I was in middle school, the only gay kids I knew were these two twin brothers two grades ahead of me. They would set up a boombox during recess and sing, dance, and do acrobatics to the Spice Girls. I went to a private school in Brentwood, so you’d think more kids would have been out in the 90’s, but these two were literally the only ones. And they were so unapologetically themselves. So they are definitely two of my LGBT heroes wrapped up in one set of twins.
What’s Los Angeles’ best nightspot, past or present?
Honestly, at night you can find me out with friends to a long dinner and the movies, or at home with Postmates, a book, dog and husband. Nightspots interest me less these days because I have found that I prefer to wake up rather early—especially weekends for what I like to call “Self Care Saturdays” and “Self Care Sundays”.
Describe your dream wedding.
On November 11, 2017, I married the love of my life. My parents walked me down the aisle, my dad cried, and I said “I DO!” in front of 150 of our friends and family.
What non-LGBT issue are you most passionate about?
One non-LGBT issue that I am passionate about because it hits super close to home is the opioid epidemic. Across the US, almost 120 people are dying a day from opioids. When I speak to the older generations of LGBT men and women, I often have conversations about the AIDS crisis, and how these men and women lived in fear and sadness watching their loved ones around them die. This is happening today. Addiction is killing wonderful people at an alarming rate, plaguing our communities and destroying families.
What historical outcome would you change?
Trump. And every inhumane decision he has made since taking office; law that discriminates against LGBT people, very specific action taken to discriminate against transgender people, actions that have separated children from their parents in a thoughtless and frantic attempt to make his mark on immigration issues. I recently saw that law now provides American people to actually and legally adopt migrant children whose parents have been deported without informing the children’s parents.
What’s been the most memorable pop culture moment of your life-time?
Well, I did just dress up as Kathy Griffin holding Donald Trump’s bloodied, severed head for Halloween. I wouldn’t necessarily say that’s my most memorable pop culture moment, but it’s definitely the most easily recalled pop-culture moment for me right now.
On what do you insist?
That the dog be allowed to sleep in bed with us.
What was your last Facebook post or Tweet?
My last Facebook post was a thank you to all the guests who attended a fundraiser I organized for addiction prevention.
If your life were a book, what would the title be?
… I’d need a ghost writer for this one
If science discovered a way to change sexual orientation, what would you do?
No way. There are several reasons why I love being a gay man. Some reasons, I probably shouldn’t say publicly… But one thing I can say here is that I have had some very unique opportunities to grow as a human and understand the world around me through the various obstacles life has handed me.
What do you believe in beyond the physical world?
I believe in the laws of karma and unconditional love. I believe in prayer and listening to the universe or God through meditation.
What’s your advice for LGBT movement leaders?
Be louder. Insist that we come together more.
What would you walk across hot coals for?
Friends and family. And any country with beaches, cliff diving and monkeys.
What LGBT stereo-type annoys you most?
That transgender people live crazy lives because of what we see in the media.
What’s your favorite LGBT movie?
What’s the most overrated social custom?
I’m not super into small talk these days
What trophy or prize do you most covet?
… a PhD
What do you wish you’d known at 18?
That adults are just older kids
Why Los Angeles?
I was born here, the weather is great, and we have it all in a close proximity to us; city, beaches, skiing, liberals, entertainment, and fun.