I’ve been trying to decide whether to post about this situation at all. One of my many pet peeves is when people are outraged on behalf of a subset of people when they are not a member of that subset. So today I have been waiting for some outrage from the LGBT community over last night’s episode. So far I haven’t seen any of the main publications saying anything.
So I suppose I will.
As I was typing this post, my sister called and she asked if I had seen what happened on Survivor. It is a big topic of conversation everywhere. So in case you missed it, Check out the clip below. It is of the tribal council where the losing tribe votes someone off the island. In this case, Jeff Varner one of three gay men on this tribe knows that he is going home and literally does anything he can to prevent that from knocking him out of the game for a million dollars.
So that happened, You hear Jeff say, “Why haven’t you told anyone that you are transgender?” to Zeke. Then he says that being transgender is a form of deception, implying that if he was hiding his gender, he was hiding strategy in the game. First of all, everyone is hiding their game strategy and being deceptive in the game that is the nature of the game. Previous players have done some really crazy things. They build fake idols, they play tribe members against each other, they steal things solely for the purpose of implicating someone else. One season, a guy ironically going by the name Johnny Fairplay told his tribe during a visit by family members that he just found out his grandmother died so that they would give up their chance at an overnight visit with their family member for him. His grandmother was just fine. Johnny had told his brother (or whoever the family member was) to tell him that if he made it far enough in the game to get a visit. People thought that was pretty despicable. I thought it was wickedly ingenious. No one’s life was altered by not winning that reward challenge. This was downright horrible.
The Youtube above is a mere fraction of the tribal council that took up the entire last half of the episode. In the first half, he tried to convince his tribe to take out his ally Zeke or the strongest member, and biggest threat on the tribe. When Jeff tried to make it clear to Jeff that he had just outed Zeke to millions of people. Jeff defended himself saying that he thought everyone knew. That was a clear lie.
Jeff Varner made this statement about his behavior last night on Twitter
The host of the show, Jeff Probst had the following to say in his exclusive interview with EW.com
In 34 seasons of Survivor, I have rarely, if ever, personally commented on what is said or done in the game. But this is a unique situation that falls outside the normal boundaries. I cannot imagine anyone thinking what was done to Zeke was okay on any level, under any circumstances, and certainly not simply because there was a million dollars on the line. I think the response from the tribe, as it so often does, mirrors what the vast majority of society will feel. You just don’t do that to someone.
Earlier in the game, teams had to spell out a word from lettered buoys to win a reward. The word was metamorphosis. Jeff had this to say about Zeke’s reaction to a sudden public outing .
I was still blown away by how he handled the entire situation. It was as if he had been preparing for this absolutely unpredictable, completely public, and incredibly vulnerable moment for his entire life. His composure was astounding. And when he connected the entire event to the word metamorphosis, I distinctly remember thinking — how in the world did you just do that?
I was also very impressed with the compassion Zeke showed Varner. I wonder if some people will say he shouldn’t have hugged him or shouldn’t have forgiven him. But as a viewer to that moment, I found his ability to still find some level of humanity for someone who had just injured him so severely, maybe his crowning moment.
And there is another moment that I hope was as inspiring for others as it was for me, and that was when Sarah told Zeke she was glad she got to know Zeke for who Zeke is and would never see him any other way. That moment — when a police officer from a conservative Midwest background without much exposure to the “gay and lesbian and transgender world” realized her own growth, her own metamorphosis, it completed the circle. This is how change and acceptance happens.
This story has been picked up by mainstream media including Time and The Washington Post. The one good thing to come of this horrendous attack on Zeke is the dialogue it is causing. What are your thoughts? Is all fair in love and Survivor?