Pride

Zeke Thomas Talks Dealing With 'Daily Trauma' After Sexual Assault, Debuts New Single 'LOVE ME SOBER'

Zeke Thomas
Sam McKnight

Zeke Thomas

When Zeke Thomas appeared on Good Morning America on April 25, 2017, he revealed to the world that he was a victim of rape. Talking with Robin Roberts, the then-28-year-old musician said that he was still shaken from his experience. “I was terrified,” he told Roberts. “I really felt that my manhood had been taken from me.”

One year later, Thomas is still dealing with the trauma from his rape, and tells Billboard that dealing with this kind of an issue is not something that just goes away overnight. “This battle with sexual assault, and now with just dealing with daily trauma, is something that I have to deal with every day -- and other survivors have to deal with every day,” he says.

But the DJ and son of NBA Hall of Famer Isiah Thomas is moving forward, making progress through advocacy. His new song “LOVE ME SOBER" feat. Le Art, premiering below, is about finding a way to love again after trauma. While the lyrics are dripping with emotion and pain, the song’s production provides a deep bass and constant beat, which Thomas says is an homage to the house music he grew up loving.

“I grew up with Motown, with house music, it's just... my music. It's Chicago,” he says. “It's the underground misfit scene of gays and the people not being able to, you know, be accepted by normal society.”

The song also marks a new stage in Thomas’ life — ever since his interview with Roberts on GMA, Thomas has seen himself step into the role of an advocate. Today he travels the country to give speeches at college campuses, partnered with COACH to spread awareness about sexual assault with his upcoming video for “LOVE ME SOBER,” and is even donating all proceeds of the song to the National Sexual Violence Resource Center and GLAAD.

Thomas tracks his progress in advocacy back to his GMA interview, saying that many other stations weren’t willing to air his story. “ABC and Robin Roberts, they stepped up and they covered an African-American gay male victim with a celebrity-attached background,” he says. “They definitely took a risk, and that's the way you help move the conversation forward.”

The piece was influential enough to earn GMA a GLAAD Media Award Nomination for Outstanding TV Journalist Segment. Thomas says that the nomination presented him with a difficult reality he had to face. “I almost had a catch-22 with myself,” he says. “I was like, ‘I'm getting nominated because I was raped.’ But now I have finally been able to see the power in speaking, in speaking the truth and activism.”

In the current cultural climate, sexual assault is something on the forefront of everyone’s mind, with the ongoing #MeToo movement providing a space for survivors to come forward and share their stories of sexual assault and misconduct. Thomas says that the catharsis of the movement is important, but that it can’t only be about catharsis.

“We have to get off of our bully pulpits and start to now turn the traumas into action items for recovery,” he says. “It is 100 percent a weight off your shoulders to scream and shout and be angry and express all of your emotions, to name your rapist and name your assailant. But we still gotta get out of bed every day and do the work.”

For now, Thomas wants to do that with his new song. The thumping beat, he says, is a portrayal of what it feels like to live with trauma after an assault. “The track has beat to it, it has bass to it, but that's just because I want you to feel the pulse, feel the heartbeat, feel what changes, what flows through you when you're going through something,” he says.

Listen to Zeke Thomas’ new track “LOVE ME SOBER” below: