Truth be told, I haven’t watched Survivor in years, though I did see the season with Jeff Varner. Varner is back for this season of repeat contestants, apparently, and last night — spoiler alert! — he was voted off by acclamation (no secret vote) when he asked a fellow contestant, Zeke Smith, “Why haven’t you told people you’re transgender?” It was something nobody seemed to know … certainly not the 8 million people who do still watch Survivor.
Varner, who is gay, initially defended himself by saying being in the closet that way was proof of deception and he was just trying to save himself — hey, all’s fair right? But the castaways turned on him like a collective snake, chastising Varner for the low blow of outing someone who was not himself ready to come out. During the closing confessional, he tearfully apologized, and Zeke has even written about the experience (remember, the show was filmed months ago in private). Sadly, it wasn’t much more of a teaching moment, as the moral outrage was quickly replaced by game play. Maybe the thoughtful reflection will come next week.