At the ‘Survivor: Game Changers’ reunion show, Zeke Smith told all about where he stands in the weeks since the episode aired where he was outed as transgender by Jeff Varner. Plus, find out why he said the popular reality competition show completely saved his life!
One of the most defining moments of season 34 of Survivor was when Jeff Varner outed Zeke Smith as transgender in front of their entire tribe and, eventually, millions of people watching. Zeke has already admitted to forgiving his cast-mate after his privacy was viciously invaded, and months after filming, he addressed the situation again at the reunion show on May 24. “I was really scared. I didn’t know what was going to happen to my world,” Zeke admitted. “I didn’t know what the reaction was going to be. Growing up in Oklahoma, I didn’t always have a lot of friends. Even throughout my life, people haven’t always stuck through my side for the hard times. What this experience has showed me is that I have so much love in my life.”
Zeke added that he’s never felt as loved as he has in the weeks since he was publicly outed, and also gave viewers an insight into what he went through before appearing on Survivor. “When I transitioned I was hit with a pretty big bout of depression, like a lot of people are,” he admitted. “I almost failed out of Harvard, I was living at home, I was helpless. I binged 20 seasons of Survivor and it took me away. I got to go on adventures and it got me through. Slowly, I put my life back together. There was something missing, a courage and a boldness. Something inside me knew I had to go play Survivor and I found that courage and boldness in Fiji on the beaches. Survivor has given me my life back.”
Of course, host Jeff Probst also had Varner share his side of the story. As we previously reported, Jeff was fired from his job and was highly criticized after the episode aired, but things have changed for him in recent weeks. “This has been a very difficult situation for both of us and I don’t even want to talk about my journey without acknowledging that the real victim in this situation is Zeke,” Jeff began. “It’s about him and it always has been for me. But it’s been very difficult. It was really ugly for a period of time. But then it changed and I was told the way I reacted and handled it — I was always taught to stand up and admit your mistakes. Own them and turn them into something positive. And I did that every minute of every day.” His response was met by a loud applause from the audience, including Zeke and other cast members. Oh, and he also revealed he has a new job, and business is going well!
Sarah Lacina was named the winner of Survivor: Game Changers at the reunion, with Brad Culpepper and Troyzan coming in second and third, respectively.
HollywoodLifers, what do you think of Zeke and Jeff’s responses at the reunion?