In one of the most shocking ‘Survivor’ tribal council’s ever, spiteful Jeff Varner outed Zeke Smith as transgender to try to show others that he was ‘deceitful.’ Now he’s speaking out for the first time and revealing if he’s been able to forgive Jeff’s actions.
What a class act! Zeke Smith is speaking out for the very first time since he was shockingly outed to the world as transgender by mean Jeff Varner, 50, during Survivor‘s tribal council Apr. 12. Even though the men were able to hug it out as Jeff rightfully was voted off, the Brooklyn-based asset manager still has lingering thoughts about if the openly gay former TV newsman is transphobic. “It’s tough with Varner,” Zeke tells PEOPLE. “I don’t think he hates trans people. I just think he has a lot of misconceptions about trans people. I think if he wants to be an ally to trans people, he has a long way to go.”
“I think you see this tactic used a lot by politicians to pass these so-called bathroom bills and I don’t think it’s a coincidence that he’s from North Carolina, where the most dangerous of these bathroom bills was passed,” says Zeke, finally able to break his silence now that the episode has aired. “I think the hardest part is that if he was just some ignorant bigot, you could just write him off, but he’s not. He knows better. I think because he’s gay, people give his words a little more weight and I don’t know if he believes what he said — but he definitely hoped others would.”
While Jeff apologized for his actions after the rest of the castaways laid into him, all will never be well between him and the 29-year-old New Yorker. “In the moment, it felt like the right thing to do was accept his apology and say that we’d find a way to work it out, but I don’t really – I really struggle with forgiving him every day,” Zeke revealed. “I’ve had to think a lot about what forgiveness is. Forgiveness is not forgetting what happened. It’s not excusing what happened. I don’t even think forgiveness means I have to be his friend — and I don’t think I ever will be his friend.”
“But I think forgiveness is about hope – hope that he understands why what he did was wrong, hope that he doesn’t ever do something like this again and hope that whatever compelled him to give into his worst instincts in a dark moment is resolved for him,” he adds. “I do wish him the best, I just think I wish him the best from afar.” Go Zeke! He handled tribal council with so much class and dignity is still so wise with his words.
HollywoodLifers, were you offended that Jeff outed Zeke on Survivor?