After Wednesday’s controversial episode of Survivor: Game Changers, where third-time player Jeff Varner shockingly outed fellow castaway Zeke Smith as transgender to his fellow tribe members (and the world), backlash has spread across the web.
Initially, social media responded with loving support for Zeke and disappointment for Varner. Although Jeff posted a public apology letter on his Twitter account, he could not escape the fallout the controversy would cause.
— Jeff Varner (@JEFFVARNER) April 13, 2017
As US Weekly reports, Varner lost his job with Allen Tate Real Estate in North Carolina the day after the episode aired. In the report, Varner claims that he found out about his dismissal on Thursday during press interviews for Survivor. He was reportedly “devastated” to hear the news, which he found out about via email. He has since claimed that his firing, “…was an ugly, knee-jerk reaction” to the controversy of the episode, which the agency says they “wanted nothing to do with.”
Since then, he has been seeking employment with other agencies that he feels will support its employees during difficult times, something that obviously his former employer refused to do. In an interview with Entertainment Tonight, he claims his major issue with the dismissal is that he feels he “…wasn’t even given the chance to explain or right the wrong.”
Jeff Varner’s termination is only the latest in the fallout from the incident. As previously reported by Inquisitr, Jeff Probst has spoken out about the incident and has condemned Varner’s actions in the episode, yet has claimed that he feels for the 51-year-old player and for the victim in the whole situation, Zeke Smith.
Jeff Varner claims that he has been in therapy since the episode was filmed almost ten months ago, and has been in contact with Zeke Smith, which has set the stage for the healing process to begin. On this topic, Varner says “[I] have been in therapy, CBS has paid for [me]. They wanted [me] healthy.”
He claims that it was very tough having to go months without talking openly about what happened. He was ultimately ‘prepared’ to watch it all go down on Wednesday night, and states “I knew that it would be emotional. I cried a lot. I sat numb a lot. There was relief that this is finally out there.”
— Zeke Smith (@zekerchief) April 13, 2017
CBS has since come under fire for airing the episode. The move was seen as exploitative by the network in an attempt to garner ratings for the veteran reality competition series. However, in an interview with Zeke Smith on The Talk, he claims that CBS asked for his permission before including the outing in the episode and that he worked closely with them to determine how it would be shown. Given that the season was filmed last summer, many felt there was plenty of time to figure out a way to edit around the shocking moment. However, Smith wanted a positive to come from the experience, and wrote an article for The Hollywood Reporter speaking about it all, in his own words.
Zeke first played the game last year in the ‘Millennials Vs. Gen X’ season, where he placed ninth. He was a fan favorite during his time on the show, which unsurprisingly resulted in him being invited back for the current season ‘Game Changers’. Jeff Varner is a three-time player, first having played in the show’s second season “The Australian Outback” and more recently, the show’s 31st season “Second Chance.” Both times, Jeff was eliminated before the jury portion of the game, which makes this third (and most controversial) attempt, the third time he has not made it onto the jury.
Survivor: Game Changers airs Wednesdays at 8/7c on CBS.
[Featured Image by Mark Davis/Getty Images]