NATIONAL COMING OUT DAY

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

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.

Funders

MetroFocus is made possible by Sue and Edgar Wachenheim III, the Sylvia A. and Simon B. Poyta Programming Endowment to Fight Anti-Semitism, Bernard and Denise Schwartz, Barbara Hope Zuckerberg, Janet Prindle Seidler, Jody and John Arnhold, the Cheryl and Philip Milstein Family, Judy and Josh Weston and the Dr. Robert C. and Tina Sohn Foundation.

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