Last year, Josh "Zeke" Thomas met a guy on Grindr, a dating app for gay men. The first date went well, so Thomas felt no qualms about meeting up with the guy again. They met at a bar, where Thomas's date drugged him and then took him to his own home and raped him.
“My ass was destroyed. Destroyed. I’m bleeding,” Thomas told The Cut. “And I’m just like — terrified. I can’t move. I didn’t move from my apartment for two days. I didn’t move. I didn’t talk to anybody. I froze.”
Thomas later saw that the man who raped him had either deleted his account from Grindr or blocked him on the app.
Thomas told The Cut that he got into drugs as a means to cope, and would tell people about his assault when he was high. He told his parents (his father is NBA star Isiah Thomas) when he was high on mushrooms and they helped him get treatment with a doctor and a therapist.
He's opening up about his sexual assault now to help other men, and gay men in particular, who have been sexually assaulted to feel less alone.
“No one ever talks about this,” Thomas told The Cut. “Especially men — gay men. It’s like, is it real, did it happen, is it believable?”
There's a stereotype among and about gay men that they're always interested in sex, and Grindr — the app where Thomas met his rapist — has a reputation as a hookup app, instead of a way for gay men to find relationships.
Thomas told The Cut that some of his straight friends said things like, “‘Oh, you guys are always down. You’re always having sex anyway," but even if that were true of all gay men, it doesn't make rape any less real.
Thomas has a few suggestions about how friends and family should really talk to someone who discloses a sexual assault. He filmed a PSA with the National Sexual Violence Resource Center, providing examples of phrases that might help.
"Thank you for telling me."
"It was not your fault."
"I am here for you."
See the rest of Thomas's advice on supporting survivors in the video below:
If you have experienced sexual violence and are in need of crisis support, please call the RAINN Sexual Assault Hotline at 1-800-656-HOPE (4673).