Last year, Zeke Thomas shared his story with the world about he suffered at the hands of rape and sexual assault, not once, but twice. Since then, the discussion of male rape is a topic that’s been stirred. We caught up with DJ, activist and son of Basketball God Isiah Thomas to talk love, hooking up and new music.
C&C: You came public with your story last year, how have things developed/progressed since then?
Z: After speaking it into truth and making the choice to go public my whole life has changed. I didn’t realize the impact my words would have globally, with my friends, and my family. It’s sad to think about how myself being assaulted would be seen by some friends and family, as a way to blame me, for them now having to face the fact that I was raped.
I wouldn’t change a thing however, because the work and progress that is being done – not just by myself but by others in activism, awareness, government, and just general social consciousness is amazing. Martin Luther King said “Out of Mountain of despair comes a stone of hope” And I take that saying with me every day loved ones aren’t, or weren’t, there for me. I remember there is a greater mission here than just my peace of mind.
I know that you’ve previously stated that you don’t blame the apps for the incident, but do you think Grindr and other hook-up apps can be doing more to keep their users safe?
How do you respond to the analogy that we (hook-up app users) value sex over our safety?
I believe it is in our human nature to be searching for love. And love is safety. So no, meeting someone for a hook up I do believe everyone is subconsciously hoping for that spark. There are more good people on the apps than bad. You have to remember that, and you have to protect yourself; listen to your gut not your dick [laughs].
Do you think that curbing the drug culture within the gay community will help incidents like this?
There is a rise of drug culture in all aspects of society right now not just gay culture. It’s time to take off the blinders and be real about this. I have had my own highs and lows with substance abuse – no pun intended. I think mental health treatment is something that our community needs more of as we all have to deal with the trauma of being different or labeled as “other.” I do not believe in my heart however that drugs cause people to become victims or rapists.
How has the incident affected your love life?
The two greatest loves I ever experienced were lost because of this issue. One, because I wasn’t able to deal with prior trauma, and the other because he had to deal with me fighting through trauma. I’ve apologized to them both and now I am currently dating. I met a beautiful Hungarian man who I’m currently seeing but always waiting to be swept off my feet.
Men received a lot of backlash for speaking up during the #MeToo movement – how do you feel about that?
I felt appalled. But thats the culture that we live in, and the stigma we must break. My own family told me my rape wasn’t as severe because I’m a man. They were wrong for that and any one who dare tries to step into the shoes of survivors and take the one thing we all cling to which is our truth, should be ashamed.
There also seems to be a grey area around which point (between sexual assault and rape) should people speak up. Should it be at a grope? Or does that belittle the experiences of people who have been through worse?
Sexual assault and rape is murder of the mind. It is a traumatic experience that will stick with you. If a man or women is groping you and you don’t want it or can’t get away whether you are on the train, night club, school etc. That experience is now going to effect you the rest of your life, so no do not belittle your experience.
As an activist for male rape awareness, what do you aim to achieve from your role?
To give the voiceless a voice. I am blessed by the universe to be given this platform to express the views of some and many around the issue of male rape. 1 in 6 men have been assaulted. Its a staggering statistic and one that is probably under reported.
You’ve got a single called ‘Dealing With It’, can you offer any advice on to someone that’s gone through something similar, on how to deal with it…
People will tell you to turn to your family or turn to your friends. Both those things didn’t work out for me as I would of hoped. What did work out is turning inward. I’ve become very spiritually aware as well as seeking the help of mental health professionals. I recommend you seek a 3rd party someone brand new and work through your pain.
You’ve also got another house track out, Shade Box, tell us more about that…
Shade box! The video is done by Jacob Holly. We wanted to express how you can feel to be trapped at a party under the influence. Its a circuit dance record. And one I hope people love. The response has been great. Johnny I and I have known each other for awhile so getting a chance to team up for this project has been really dope!