ZEKE THOMAS: JOURNEY TO SELF-ACCEPTANCE

October 12, 2019 at 4:45 am

Zeke Thomas, the son of NBA legend Isiah Thomas, shares his cautionary tale and journey to self-acceptance.

Aired on October 11, 2019. 

Transcript Print

>> WE TURN TO THE STORY OF ONE
YOUNG MAN SPEAKING OUT ON AN
IMPORTANT BUT RARELY TALKED
ABOUT TOPIC.
ZOOEM THOMAS, A MUSIC PRODUCER,
DJ, AND THE SON OF ISAIAH THOMAS
HAS GONE PUBLIC WITH REVELATIONS
HE WAS RAPED TWICE.
FIRST WHEN HE WAS 12 YEARS OLD
AND AGAIN IN A SEPARATE INCIDENT
LAST YEAR.
HE'S HOPING THAT HIS PAINFUL
ADMISSION WILL HELP OTHERS
SURVIVORS.
HE'S PARTNERED WITH THE NATIONAL
SEXUAL VIOLENCE RESOURCE CENTER
AND APPEARS IN A NEW PSA AIMED
AT REMOVING THE STIGMA FELT BY
MANY MALE VICTIMS.
>> MY NAME IS ZEKE THOMAS AND
I'M A SURVIVOR.
IF SOMEONE YOU KNOW TELLS YOU
THEIR STORY, HERE ARE SOME
EXAMPLES OF THINGS YOU SAY.
THANK YOU FOR TELLING ME.
IT WAS 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 PAST ISN'T ALWAYS A STRAIGHT
LINE AND YOU DON'T NEED TO GO IT
ALONE.
>> ZEKE THOMAS JOINS US NOW TO
TALK ABOUT THIS.
NICE TO MEET YOU.
>> PLEASURE TO MEET YOU.
PLEASURE TO BE HERE.
>> FIRST QUESTION I THINK MOST
PEOPLE HAVE IS WHY HAVE YOU
CHOSE TON GO PUBLIC WITH THIS
AND TALK ABOUT YOUR OWN PERSONAL
STORY?
>> AFTER GOING THROUGH THERAPY
AND MEETING WITH OTHER VICTIMS
AND SURVIVORS, IT WAS SOMETHING
THAT I WANTED TO SHARE.
I DIDN'T KNOW AND THINK IT WOULD
BE ON A LARGE STAGE, BUT WHEN I
STARTED TALKING IN VARIOUS
GROUPS AND VARIOUS MEETINGS I
WAS ATTENDING, JUST, YOU KNOW,
SUPPORT GROUPS AN STUFF LIKE
THAT, PEOPLE WERE ASKING ME TO
CAN WE WRITE ABOUT YOU ON THE
BLOG.
WE KNOW YOU'RE A POPULAR DJ,
MUSICIAN.
I STARTED THINKING TO MYSELF,
LIKE, IT COULD SHAPED THE WRONG
WAY.
NOT THE WAY I WANT TO TELL MY
STORY.
>> YOU WERE WORRIED ABOUT HOW IT
MIGHT HAVE GOTTEN OUT THERE.
AND IT WOULDN'T BE THE WAY YOU
WANTED IT TO GET OUT THERE.
WHAT WAS YOUR FEAR?
>> WHAT WAS THE WAY YOU WANTED
TO TELL YOUR STORY?
>> MY MAIN FEAR AND I GO BACK TO
WHAT HAD HAPPENED AND THE DAYS
AFTER.
NOT KNOWING.
BEING AFRAID.
GOING THROUGH THIS IS MY FAULT.
TRYING TO FIGURE OUT HOW TO
PRESS CHARGES.
HOW, YOU KNOW, TO FIND THIS NEED
UNTIL THE HAYSTACK, SO TO SPEAK.
AND I REALIZED THEN THAT THIS
WAS MY WAY TO KIND OF CONFRONT
MY RAPIST.
UNFORTUNATELY, WE HAVEN'T BEEN
ABLE TO FIND HIM.
AND THIS WAS MY WAY I WANTED TO
GET THAT POINT ACROSS.
AND WHY I WAS AFRAID MORE SO WAS
THAT I DIDN'T WANT SOMEBODY TO
LABEL ME A VICTIM, AT THAT
POINT.
>> YOU IDENTIFY YOURSELF AS A
SURVIVOR.
YOU DON'T SAY I'M A VICTIM.
>> YES.
>> THAT MIGHT SURPRISE PEOPLE.
WHY IS IT SO IMPORTANT FOR YOU
YOU NOT BE VIEWED AS A VICTIM
AND YOU DIDN'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, YOU KNOW, SOMETHING
THAT YOU'RE DEALING WITH
INTERNALLY THAT YOU DEFINITELY
FEEL LIKE A VICTIM IN THAT
MOMENT.
THAT PAIN, THAT TRAUMA YOU'RE
FEELING EVENTUALLY YOU EITHER
MOVE ON AND DEAL WITH IT, YOU
GROW, YOU DON'T LET IT SWALLOW
YOU, SO TO SPEAK, AND YOU
SURVIVE.
>> I'VE HEARD YOU SAY, ALSO,
WHEN YOU HAD TO DECIDE WHAT TO
DO, YOU KNOW, AS A GAY MAN, AS A
BLACK MAN, THERE WERE OTHER
BARRIERS THAT YOU SAW TO THIS
NOTION OF GOING PUBLIC WITH ALL
OF THIS.
HOW DID YOU GET PAST THAT?
>> DEFINITELY IN THE
AFRICAN-AMERICAN COMMUNITY,
THERE'S A LOT OF STIGMA AND
WALLS AROUND NOT JUST SEXUALITY
AND GENDER BUT, YOU KNOW,
THERE'S A CERTAIN TYPE OF
BRAVADO 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.
WHAT WAS IT?
WAS I, YOU KNOW, LESS THAN?
EVEN MORE?
WHAT STIGMA WAS I GOING TO HAVE
TO FIGHT NOW?
AND IN THE GAY COMMUNITY, YOU'RE
FIGHTING THIS STIGMA YOU'RE SEX
CRAZED, THIS, THAT, BUT THAT'S
NOT THE REALITY OF THE GAY MAN'S
WORLD.
ONCE AGAIN, YOU SAY THAT ONE OF
THE MOST IMPORTANT THINGS TO
TELL A VICTIM AND THEN TELL A
SURVIVOR IS "I BELIEVE YOU."
I WANTED TO FEEL --
>> WHY IS THAT SO IMPORTANT TO
SAY TO THEM I BELIEVE YOU?
>> BECAUSE WHAT YOU'RE DOING IS
TELLING YOUR TRUTH.
YOUR STORY.
EVEN WHEN YOU'RE TALKING TO A
LOVED ONE, LIKE MY PARENTS OR,
YOU KNOW, A DOCTOR, IT'S A
SHOCKING MOMENT.
IT'S NOT THAT YOU DON'T BELIEVE
THEM OR WHATEVER.
IT'S YOUR FIRST REACTION IS,
WHOA.
IT MIGHT THROW SOMEBODY OFF
GUARD, YOU KNOW.
WHY DON'T YOU BELIEVE ME OR
YOU'RE DISRESPECTING MY STORY.
>> WHY DO YOU THINK IT WAS --
>> YEAH.
WHY DO YOU THINK IT WAS MY
FAULT.
YES.
THAT GOES QUESTIONS THAT THE
ALLY NEEDS ANSWERED AREN'T
REALLY WHAT A VICTIM SURVIVOR
WANTS TO TELL AND SHOULD TELL.
YOU MENTIONED YOUR FAMILY.
WE SAID IN THE INTRODUCTION YOUR
DAD IS VERY FAMOUS.
WAS WHAT SORT OF TREND
DEDICATION DID YOU HAVE ABOUT
TELLING THIS TO YOUR FAMILY.
HOW DID YOUR FAMILY REACT?
>> I BELIEVE DEFINITELY IMPACTED
THEM AND 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 MT.
MEDIA.
I FEEL LIKE THE GREATER WORK
THAT IS HAPPENING AND HOW THEY
RAISED ME.
THEY'RE PROUD OF ME.
>> 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 USE THE WORD VICTIM TO YOU,
BECAUSE YOU DON'T WANT THEM TO,
IN A SENSE THEY'RE STILL LOOKING
AT YOU AS A VICTIM.
>>WELL, I DEFINITELY FEEL THERE
ARE SOME PEOPLE OUT THERE WHO
LOOK AT ME AS A VICTIM BUT THE
OVERWHELMING OUTPOUR 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, SO I OWE YOU A GREAT
THANKS AND JOURNALISTS OUT THERE
HAVE TAKEN THIS STORY AND REALLY
PUSHED IT TO NOT JUST THE UNITED
STATES BUT NOW IT'S AROUND THE
WORLD.
I NEVER IMAGINED THIS WOULD BE
POSSIBLE.
I GOT PHONE CALLS AND, YOU KNOW,
FROM HIGH-RANKING GOVERNMENT
OFFICIALS TO CELEBRITIES TO
YOUNG CHILDREN.
IT'S OVERWHELMING.
>> IS IT HELPING YOU?
IS IT HELPING IN YOUR HEALING
PROCESS?
>> 100%.
I THINK EVERY TIME THAT I HEAR
THAT SOMEBODY ELSE HAS DONE WITH
THIS, IT MAKES ME SEE THERE'S,
YOU KNOW, HOPE THAT LIFE DOES
CONTINUE.
IT TAKES AN AMOUNT OF COUNSELOR.
PEOPLE SAID THAT TO YOU TO BE
ABLE TO COME FORWARD, NOT ONLY
TO HELP YOURSELF BUT HELP
OTHERS.
AND I THINK YOUR FAMILY IS PROUD
OF YOU AND I THINK A LOT OF
FOLKS OUT THERE WILL WATCH YOU
AND SAY, YOU KNOW, HE CAN DO IT.
MAYBE I CAN DO IT, TOO.
I THINK THERE'S REAL VALUE IN
WHAT YOU'RE DOING, ZEKE.
PLEASURE TO MEET YOU.
>> THANK YOU.

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, Judy and Josh Weston and the Dr. Robert C. and Tina Sohn Foundation.

WNET

© WNET All Rights Reserved.

825 Eighth Avenue

New York, NY 10019