The fallout from the shocking turn of events on this week’s “Survivor” continues for ousted castaway Jeff Varner, whose chances of winning the million-dollar prize were snuffed out along with his torch on Wednesday’s episode after he outed fellow contestant Zeke Smith as transgender during a heated Tribal Council.
Now, Varner reveals that the incident has also cost him his job. According to the Greensboro News & Record, Varner — who is openly gay — revealed his employer told him he’s “in the middle of a news story that we don’t want anything to do with,” and fired him from his job as a realtor. Attempts to contact Varner’s former employer for comment, the paper says, have been unsuccessful.
In this week’s edition of ET Canada’s Post Tribal podcast, Varner explained that he initially wanted to talk about Smith’s deception in the context of alliances and playing the game, but in an act of desperation he wound up outing Zeke as trans.
Varner’s move was immediately decried by the rest of his “Survivor” tribe — who unanimously sent him packing without even taking a vote — as well as numerous people on Twitter, including “Transparent” actress Trace Lysette, who tweeted that “outing a transgender person is an act of violence.”
Despite his actions, Varner insisted that it’s not representative of who he is. “That’s not who I am as a human being,” he said in the Post Tribal podcast, “and it’s taken me months to get to a place where I can talk about it without crying.”
In fact, Varner claimed during an interview on Sirius XM’s “EW Morning Live” that he’s deeply sorry for what he did, and has been undergoing therapy because of what happened.
“This is about Zeke,” Varner said. “I can only profusely apologize. I have apologized to him — we’ve spoken several times on the phone. He continually forgives me. I am amazed and moved at his ability to do that. I know that forgiveness is difficult. I know that he has a lot of people in his ear. I know that watching this last night was traumatic not only for me and my family — I can only imagine what this was like for him and his friends and everybody who loves him.”
“I hurt him,” Varner continued. “When we were in pain and we are in fair, we are dangerous people. We say things we don’t mean. And he’s calling me a bigot and full of hate and all kinds of stuff. I forgive him for that. I give him every inch of every room to feel and experience what he’s feeling. If he wants to take swings at me, I’m the one to hand him the bat. I deserve it. I deserve every bit of it. No one is going to beat me up worse than I have myself.”