A contestant has been evicted from US reality show Survivor: Game Changers, in a dramatic confrontation that commentators have called "the worst thing" that's happened in any of the show's 34 seasons.
Despite competitors Jeff Varner and Zeke Smith forging a close bond due to both being openly gay, a confrontation happened during deliberations at the Tribal Council this week, because Varner felt as though he was likely to be voted out.
Attempting to shift the critical eye to Zeke, he turns to his former ally and says, "Why haven’t you told anyone you are transgender?"
Varner then says to the remaining contestants that Zeke's decision to keep his gender identity a secret proves that he cannot be trusted. He tells them that "it reveals the ability to deceive".
The contestants, shocked, begin to yell at Varner, becoming emotional at the breach of trust.
Realising that he's made a mistake, Varner speaks to host Jeff Probst, attempting to explain himself and backtrack: “I’m not saying, Jeff, that transgender people are deceptive,” he says. Probst scoffs, telling him, “You’re saying that by not revealing it, he’s capable of deception. That’s a giant leap of logic. Do you honestly not see that?”
Probst then makes an executive decision, telling the group there would no longer be a vote, as there was no need. “We don’t need to vote, just grab your torch,” he told Varner.
As he leaves the show, Varner breaks down in tears as the gravity of what he's done settles in: "Nobody on this planet should do what I did tonight — ever. I am so sorry to anybody I offended, especially Zeke, and his family and his friends. I can’t talk. I’m sorry."
Varner has spoken out on social media since the airing of the episode, expressing his deep remorse for his actions:
It has since been brought up that perhaps it shouldn't have been aired at all, but Zeke Smith has since spoken out about the episode, acknowledging that it is being used as a teachable moment for many:
Smith has also written a piece for Hollywood Reporter about the non-consensual outing of his gender identity.
Social media has shown strong reactions to the dramatic episode:
The latest episode of Survivor: Game Changers will air tonight in Australia, on GO.