As a DJ and producer, Zeke Thomas knows what it means to thrive in the spotlight. But if there’s one thing that makes Thomas stand apart from the rest of the crowd, it’s his willingness to talk about the things that matter through his work.
The openly gay music producer (and son of basketball legend Isiah Thomas) came forward publicly last year about his experience being sexually assaulted. In his powerful, upbeat song, “Dealin’ With It,” he’s delved into what it means to move forward from any sort of challenging experience.
“Making ‘Dealin’ With It,’ I didn’t go into it trying to write a song about trauma or sexual assault, the name just kind of came to me after I started producing the beat,” he told CASSIUS. “There’s plenty things you can deal with that aren’t traumatic, in addition to my trauma from sexual assault I was dealing with my move from Chicago to New York. But the best way to deal is to know that you’re going to get through it. Eventually things have to change.”
Thomas came forward with his story six months before the #MeToo movement blew up, shooting stories detailing abuses of power towards the forefront. While he told CASSIUS he’s glad to see so many people talking about these types of issues now, he can’t help but recall the struggles he faced as a gay Black man getting his story told by mainstream media. While Good Morning America gave him space to get the word out, he said it wasn’t received well by other top news outlets.
“They said ‘this is too polarizing, this is not good for our audience,'” he said. “It’s interesting to see how and why the shift happens and if the shift has happened because white stories are being exposed. What does that say about us as a culture?”
It’s a reality check that we need to be better about policing our own community.
Particularly in the gay community, he admits that it’s a long overdue conversation. In a space that is branded and cultivated as hyper-sexual in addition to elevating the white experience, Thomas said it’s been interesting to see how others navigate the conversation of what consent looks like.
“In nightclubs especially, where people are drinking or under the influence, that’s the most common place where I see inappropriate touching and people getting taken advantage of,” he said. “I’ve had these conversations in a nightclub and at an after party, not just in dinner tables or on the street. It’s something people are talking about and being more aware of than ever and it’s a reality check that we need to be better about policing our own community.”
Although Thomas’ activism shines through in his day to day life and music alike, he always makes sure to keep his songs upbeat and danceable.
“You gotta move on and put a smile on some things,” he said. “You can’t get sucked into the vortex. As much as you can get low sometimes, eventually, you have to boost your moral and get back up.”
Check out his latest remixes to “Dealin’ With It” down below.