Survivor tonight showed big drama at Tribal Council when Jeff Varner outed Zeke Smith as transgender, sending the Survivor castaways into a tailspin. The other competitors were aghast at Varner calling out Zeke at Tribal on the basis that he revealed Zeke as transgender to demonstrate he’s “capable of deception” adding “it shows the ability to deceive.”
Jeff Garner Outed Zeke Smith On Survivor
Perhaps Jeff Varner felt comfortable outing Zeke as transgender since Jeff himself is openly gay, but the tribe went off after the Survivor bombshell exploded. For several minutes after the revelation, Zeke sat in stunned silence while his other castaway tribe mates attacked Varner for what might be the cheapest shot ever in Survivor history.
On tonight’s Survivor, prior to Tribal Council, the tribe was torn between voting out Jeff Varner or Ozzy Lusth. Jeff started out strong by suggesting Ozzy as the evictee from the Fiji island but then decided to take on Zeke. Jeff had gotten himself worked up all day, as seen on Survivor action prior to Tribal. Jeff decided Zeke was lying to him and chose Ozzy’s side.
— Jon Barrett (@joncbarr) April 13, 2017
Fellow Survivor Castaways Disgusted By Varner’s Behavior
From there, Jeff went to the other Survivor castaways in the tribe and talked up Zeke’s duplicity, even lying to the women in the tribe and saying Zeke threw them under the bus which, for the record, Zeke did not. Obviously, Jeff already had realized Zeke was trans so this seems like a very calculated move of the ugliest sort despite his protestations later.
Even Survivor host Jeff Probst piled on when Jeff Varner insisted he only said something because he thought Zeke was “out, open and proud.” Jeff Probst took Varner to task and reminded him he outed Zeke as trans to show he was deceptive and that doesn’t align with saying he thought Zeke was out. The entire tribe was stunned and then Zeke finally spoke.
Zeke Didn’t Want To Be Known As Trans Survivor
Zeke said, “I didn’t want to be the trans Survivor player – I wanted to be Zeke the Survivor” and admitted he thought someone might pick up on it. Zeke said he would have talked about it if anyone had noticed and brought it up but added it was “crappy” the way it came out. Zeke also said, “Varner’s really not cool, but I’m fine.”
After Jeff Varner outed his tribe mate on Survivor, he said, “I’m shocked and can’t believe I did that. I feel horrible.” Varner apologized multiple times but the tribe wasn’t having it. His fellow Survivor castaways and, no doubt, everyone watching, was stunned to see Varner throw a fellow LGBTQ community member under the bus to try and advance his game.
— People Magazine (@people) April 13, 2017
Sarah Lashed Out At Varner Over Survivor Villain Move
Survivor Sarah Lacina was full-on crying saying, “That was a malicious attack what he did.” Varner interrupted and insisted there was no malice but the tribe all shook their heads at him. Sarah said she’s “thankful she got to know Zeke for who he is” adding she comes from the Midwest from an area that’s “not that diverse” and said, “I love this guy so much and it doesn’t change anything for me.”
Fellow Survivor Tai Tang, also openly gay, was stunned as well. The normally mild-mannered Tai had harsh words for Varner. Ozzy said Varner “went overboard” to try and do anything to stay in the game. The discussion continued alternating between Survivor castmates offering Zeke assurance of support and chastising Varner for his reprehensible actions.
Jeff Varner Ousted From Survivor Without A Tribal Council Vote
In the end, Zeke said he, “hopes some good comes from this.” Interestingly, this Survivor episode ended without a Tribal Council vote but one Survivor ousted from the game. That’s a rarity. Jeff Probst asked the tribe if they all agreed Jeff Varner should go and all consented. Jeff Varner said he was “ready to go home” and was visibly shaken by his actions.
Jeff Probst said no vote was needed since they were in agreement and as he snuffed Jeff Varner’s Survivor torch, Jeff said simply, “Varner, the tribe has spoken.” After Varner traipsed out, Jeff Probst added this Tribal Council will “never be forgotten.”
— People Magazine (@people) April 13, 2017
Varner Regretful, Zeke Hopes Good Comes From This
In the final moments of tonight’s Survivor, in his post-Tribal Council confessional, Jeff Varner said, “I don’t even know what i was thinking. It was a horrible move. Nobody on this planet should do what I did tonight. I’m so sorry to anyone I offended, especially Zeke and his family and friends.”
To learn more about Zeke Smith’s journey, check out his recent interview with People about the revelation that he is Survivor‘s first trans player. Since the episode aired this evening, there has been an outpouring of support for Zeke on social media including a statement from Survivor host Jeff Probst saying, “I cannot imagine anyone thinking what was done to Zeke was okay on any level.”
[Featured Image by Mark Davis/Getty Images]