Warning: This article contains descriptions of sexual violence.
Zeke Thomas can’t remember all that much from the night it happened. But he remembers enough.
He remembers meeting the guy at the bar. He remembers taking a sip of the drink — “something didn’t taste right,” he can recall a year later. Then, everything went dark.
Thomas, the 28-year-old son of NBA legend Isiah Thomas, had been drugged.
As he explained to New York Magazine, he woke up the following morning — bleeding from an apparent assault that’d happened while he was unconscious — to the sight of his rapist handing him a glass of water.
“‘That was great,'” the man said nonchalantly shortly before he left, Thomas recalled. “‘Let’s hang out again.’”
Traumatized, Thomas didn’t leave his apartment for two days: “I didn’t move,” he noted. “I didn’t talk to anybody. I froze.”
Now, Thomas is sharing his story in hopes that more survivors, particularly gay men like himself, will open up about their own experiences. And, as his new PSA highlights, he also wants everyone listening to survivors to understand how to be there for them.
Thomas is the first male ambassador for the National Sexual Violence Resource Center (NSVRC).
It’s vital to note that women, as a whole, are much more likely to experience sexual violence in their lifetime. But Thomas, who is openly gay, is part of a community that’s also disproportionately affected by rape and assault.
There’s an “epidemic of sexual violence in the LGBTQ community,” according to the Human Rights Campaign, which notes that gay, bisexual, and transgender men and women are often more at-risk of sexual assault and more often denied access to the type of post-assault services they need.
As a survivor and queer man of color, Thomas is one voice that certainly deserves to be heard on this issue.
“I want every young black, brown, white gay kid to know that we’re going to breathe,” Thomas told New York Magazine. “We’re going to keep going. We’re going to keep marching.”
Watch Thomas in the PSA for NSVRC below: