NATIONAL COMING OUT DAY

October 12, 2018 at 4:45 am

Once a victim, now he’s a leading voice for equality and for caution.  On “National Coming Out Day,” Zeke Thomas, the son of NBA legend Isiah Thomas, shares his story of self-acceptance.

Aired on October 12, 2018.

Transcript Print

>> WE TURN NOW TO THE STORY OF
ONE YOUNG MAN WHO IS SPEAKING
OUT ON AN IMPORTANT BUT RARELY
TALKED ABOUT TOPIC.
28-YEAR-OLD SIKH THOMAS, MUSIC
PRODUCER, DJ AND SON OF
BASKETBALL LEDGE END ISAIAH
THOMAS HAS RECENTLY GONE PUBLIC
WITH REVELATIONS OF BEING RAPED
NOT ONCE, BUT TWICE, FIRST WHEN
HE WAS 12 YEARS OLD AND THEN IN
A SECOND INCIDENT LAST YEAR.
HE'S HOPING HIS PAINFUL
ADMISSION WILL HELP OTHERS.
HE'S PARTNERED WITH THE NATIONAL
SEXUAL VIOLENCE RESOURCE CENTER
AND APPEARS IN A PSA AIMED AT
REMOVING THE STIGMA FELT BY MANY
MALE VICTIMS OF SEXUAL ASSAULT.
>> MY NAME IS SIKH THOMAS AND
I'M A SUR VOIF VOR.
IF SOMEONE YOU KNOW TELLS YOU
THEIR STORY, HERE IS AN EXAMPLE
OF WHAT YOU CAN SAY.
THANK YOU FOR TELLING ME.
IT IS NOT YOUR FAULT.
YOU DID NOTHING WRONG.
I AM HERE FOR YOU.
YOU ARE BRAVE.
YOU ARE NEVER ALONE.
HOW CAN I HELP?
YOU ARE A SURVIVOR.
EVERYONE HEALS IN THEIR OWN TIME
AND IN THEIR OWN WAY.
THE PATH ISN'T ALWAYS A STRAIGHT
LINE, AND YOU DON'T NEED TO GO
IT ALONE.
>> SIKH THOMAS JOINS US NOW TO
TALK ABOUT ALL THIS.
SIKH, NICE TO MEET YOU.
>> PLEASURE TO MEET YOU.
PLEASURE TO BE HERE.
>> FIRST QUESTION I THINK MOST
PEOPLE WOULD HAVE IS WHY HAVE
YOU CHOSEN TO GO PUBLIC WITH
THIS AND TO TALK ABOUT YOUR OWN
PERSONAL STORY?
>> AFTER GOING THROUGH THERAPY
AND MEETING WITH OTHER VICTIMS
AND OTHER SURVIVORS, IT WAS
SOMETHING THAT I WANTED TO
SHARE.
I DIDN'T KNOW AND THINK IT WOULD
BE ON SUCH A LARGE STAGE.
BUT WHEN I STARTED TALKING IN
VARIOUS GROUPS AND VARIOUS
MEETINGS THAT I WAS ATTENDING,
JUST SUPPORT GROUPS AND STUFF
LIKE THAT, PEOPLE WERE ASKING
ME, CAN WE WRITE ABOUT YOU IN
THE BLOG?
WE KNOW YOU'RE A POPULAR DJ OR
MUSICIAN, AND I WAS THINKING
THIS CAN CAN GET SHAPED THE
WRONG WAY, NOT HOW I WANT TO
TELL MOYE STORY.
>> YOU WERE WORRIED ABOUT HOW IT
MIGHT HAVE GOTTEN OUT THERE AND
IT MIGHT NOT HAVE BEEN THE WAY
YOU WANTED TO GET IT OUT THERE.
WHAT WAS YOUR FEAR?
WHAT WAS THE WAY YOU WANTED TO
TELL YOUR STORY?
>> MY MAIN FEAR AND I GO BACK TO
HOW IT HAPPENED AND THE DAYS
AFTER, NOT KNOWING, BEING
AFRAID, GOING THROUGH WAS THIS
MY FAULT, TRYING TO FIGURE OUT
HOW TO PRESS CHARGES, HOW TO
FIND THIS NEEDLE IN A HAYSTACK,
SO TO SPEAK.
AND I REALIZED THEN THAT THIS
WAS NOT WAY TO KIND OF CONFRONT
MY RAPIST.
I UNFORTUNATELY HAVEN'T BEEN
ABLE TO FIND HIM.
AND THIS WAS MY WAY THAT I
WANTED TO GET THAT POINT ACROSS
AND WHY I WAS AFRAID MORE SO IS
THAT I DIDN'T WANT SOMEBODY TO
LABEL ME A VICTIM AT THAT POINT.
>> YOU IDENTIFY YOURSELF AS, I'M
A SURVIVOR.
YOU DON'T SAY I'M A VICTIM.
>> YES.
>> THAT MIGHT SURPRISE PEOPLE.
WHY IS IT SO IMPORTANT FOR YOU
THAT YOU NOT BE VIEWED ADDS A
VICTIM AND YOU DON'T WANT TO USE
THE WORD VICTIM.
>> BECAUSE THERE'S DEFINITELY A
CHANGE IN ANY TRAUMATIC EVENT
THAT HAPPENS, WHETHER THAT IS
SEXUAL ASSAULT, RAPE, OR
SOMETHING THAT YOU'RE DEALING
WITH.
YOU FEEL LIKE A VICTIM IN THAT
MOMENT, BUT THAT PAIN, THAT
TRAUMA THAT YOU'RE FEELING
EVENTUALLY YOU EITHER MOVE ON
AND YOU DEAL WITH IT, YOU GROW,
YOU DON'T LET IT SWALLOW YOU SO
TO SPEAK AND YOU SURVIVE.
>> I HEARD YOU SAY, L WHEN YOU
HAD TO DECIDE WHAT TO DO THAT AS
A GAY MAN, AS A BLACK MAN, THERE
WERE OTHER BARRIERS THAT YOU SAW
TO THIS NOTION OF GOING PUBLIC
WITH ALL THIS.
HOW DID YOU GET PAST IT?
>> DEFINITELY IN THE
AFRICAN-AMERICAN COMMUNITY,
THERE'S DEFINITELY A LOT OF
STIGMA AND WALLS AROUND NOT JUST
SEXUALITY AND GENDER, BUT
THERE'S A CERTAIN TYPE OF
BRAVADO THAT YOU'RE SUPPOSED TO
CARRY YOURSELF AS A STRONG BLACK
MAN, A STRONG BLACK WOMAN.
SO MY MASCULINITY I FELT HAD
BEEN COMPLETELY TAKEN FROM ME IN
THAT MOMENT.
SO WHAT WAS I?
WAS I LESS THAN EVEN MORE?
WHAT STIGMA WAS I GOING TO HAVE
TO FIGHT NOW?
AND THEN IN THE GAY COMMUNITY,
YOU'RE FIGHTING THIS STIGMA OF
YOU'RE SEX-CRAZED, YOU'RE THIS,
YOU'RE THAT, BUT THAT'S NOT THE
REALITY OF THE GAY MAN'S WORLD.
ONCE AGAIN, YOU SAY THAT ONE OF
THE MOST IMPORTANT THING TO TELL
THE VICTIMS AND KEEP TELLING A
SURVIVOR IS I BELIEVE YOU.
I JUST WANTED TO FEEL BELIEVED.
>> WHY IS THAT SO IMPORTANT, TO
SAY TO THEM "I BELIEVE YOU?"
>> BECAUSE WHAT YOU'RE DOING,
YOU'RE TELLING YOUR TRUTH, YOUR
STORY.
EVEN WHEN YOU'RE TALKING TO A
LOVED ONE LIKE MY PARENTS OR A
DOCTOR, IT'S A SHOCKING MOMENT
AND IT'S NOT THAT YOU DON'T
BELIEVE THEM OR WHATEVER.
IT'S YOUR -- YOUR FIRST REACTION
IS, WHOA.
IT MIGHT THROW SOMEBODY OFF
GUARD.
WHY DON'T YOU BELIEVE ME?
YOU'RE DISRESPECTING MY STORY.
>> OR WHY DO YOU THINK IT WAS MY
FAULT.
>> OR WHY DO YOU THINK IT WAS MY
FAULT?
THE QUESTIONS THAT THE ALLY
NEEDS ANSWERED AREN'T REALLY
WHAT THE VICTIM/SURVIVOR WANTS
TO TELL AND SHOULD TELL.
>> YOU MENTIONED YOUR FAMILY.
WE SAID IN THE INTRODUCTION, DAD
VERY FAMOUS.
WHAT SORT OF TREPIDATION DID YOU
HAVE ABOUT TELLING THIS TO YOUR
FAMILY, AND HOW DID YOUR FAMILY
REACT TO IT ALL?
>> I BELIEVE IT DEFINITELY
IMPACTED THEM AND IS STILL
IMPACTING THEM AS I'M NOW
SPEAKING ABOUT IT AND SPEAKING
ABOUT IT IN A FORM OF TRYING TO
BE AN ADVOCATE FOR THIS.
I FEEL FOR THEM AS PARENTS
HAVING TO RELIVE MY TRAUMA OVER
AND OVER AND OVER AGAIN NOW IN
THE MEDIA.
BUT I FEEL LIKE THE GREATER WORK
THAT IS HAPPENING AND HOW THEY
RAISED ME, THEY'RE PROUD OF IT.
>> DO YOU GET THE SENSE THAT
PEOPLE ARE RESPECTING AS YOU
TELL THE STORY NOW, PROVIDING
YOU WITH A RESPECT AS YOU TELL
THE STORY?
OR DO YOU FIND THAT PEOPLE ARE
LOOKING AT YOU EVEN THOUGH THEY
WON'T USE THE WORD VICTIM TO YOU
BECAUSE YOU DON'T WANT THEM TO,
DO YOU FEEL THAT PEOPLE ARE
STILL LOOKING AT YOU AS A
VICTIM?
>> I DEFINITELY FEEL THERE ARE
PEOPLE OUT THERE WHO LOOK AT ME
AS A VICTIM.
BUT THE OVERWHELMING OUTPOURING
OF SUPPORT AND PEOPLE WHO ARE
VICTIMS AND GOING THROUGH THIS,
AND PEOPLE WHO ARE SURVIVORS WHO
HAVE GONE THROUGH IT AND THE WAY
THAT THE NEWS MEDIA -- I OWE YOU
A GREAT THANKS AND ALL OTHER
JOURNALISTS OUT THERE, HAVE
TAKEN THIS STORY AND REALLY
PUSHED IT TO NOT JUST THE UNITED
STATES, BUT IT'S AROUND THE
WORLD.
I NEVER IMAGINED THIS WOULD BE
POSSIBLE.
I GOT PHONE CALLS FROM
HIGH-RANKING GOVERNMENT
OFFICIALS TO CELEBRITIES TO
YOUNG CHILDREN.
IT'S OVERWHELMING.
>> IS IT HELPING YOU IN YOUR
HEALING PROCESS?
>> 100%.
I THINK EVERY TIME THAT I HEAR
THAT SOMEBODY ELSE HAS DEALT
WITH THIS, IT MAKES ME SEE THAT
THERE'S HOPE THAT LIFE DOES
CONTINUE.
>> IT TAKES AN EXTRAORDINARY
AMOUNT OF COURAGE.
I KNOW PEOPLE HAVE SAID THAT TO
YOU, TO BE ABLE TO COME FORWARD,
NOT ONLY TO HELP YOURSELF, BUT
TO HELP OTHERS.
I THINK -- I'M SURE YOUR FAMILY
IS PROUD OF YOU.
I THINK THERE ARE AN AWFUL LOT
OF FOLKS OUT THERE THAT WILL
WATCH YOU AND SAY, YOU KNOW
WHAT?
HE CAN DO IT, MAYBE I CAN DO IT,
TOO.
THERE'S REAL VALUE TO WHAT
YOU'RE DOING.
>> APPRECIATE IT.
>> THANK YOU.
YOU BE WELL.
>> THANK YOU.

Mutual of America PSEG

Funders

MetroFocus is made possible by James and Merryl Tisch, Sue and Edgar Wachenheim III, the Sylvia A. and Simon B. Poyta Programming Endowment to Fight Anti-Semitism, Bernard and Irene Schwartz, Rosalind P. Walter, Barbara Hope Zuckerberg, Jody and John Arnhold, the Cheryl and Philip Milstein Family, Janet Prindle Seidler, and Judy and Josh Weston.

WNET

© 2018 WNET All Rights Reserved.

825 Eighth Avenue

New York, NY 10019