Off the release of his new track “Dealin’ With It”, singer/DJ Zeke Thomas sits down with Billboard.com to share his favorite LGBTQ pop culture moments throughout his life time.
Just in case you don’t know DJ Zeke’s tumultuous story, just 2 months ago he sat down with ABC’s Robin Roberts to publicly talk about being sexually assaulted as a young boy and then as an adult. Zeke spoke on his troubled past because he is an ambassador for the National Sexual Violence Resource Center and member of the LGBTQ community.
Son of NBA legend Isiah Thomas, Zeke says that people like RuPaul, Big Freedia, Alex Newell, Madonna, Freddie Mercury, Billy Strayhorn, Frank Ocean, and more stand in his lineup of memorable moments in pop culture history.
- “Supermodel (You Better Work)” by RuPaul
This song made No. 2 on the Hot Dance Club songs, and No. 45 on the Hot 100.
Zeke: “To have RuPaul be at that level…that was when Michael Jackson’s Dangerous was coming out and Nirvana’s Nevermind just came out,” Thomas says. “And you had Ru up there, killing it.”
“…it was a big moment culturally. You had Ru coming out, as a drag queen, as a black drag queen, and being visible,” he says. “Even Kurt Cobain said it was one of his favorite records of the year.”
- Alex Newell on Glee as a transgender
Back in 2011, Alex Newell was a contestant on The Glee Project oxygen reality show. Coming in at second place, he still got the opportunity to appear on the show, as a transgender student named Unique Adams.
Zeke: “Glee was the first real show that I had seen that connected with me,” Thomas says. “They put it out there, but they [normally] put it out there in a Disney, cookie-cutter way — but when Alex came on as Unique, that wasn’t cookie-cutter….that’s a moment, it’s powerful.” “I really commend him for that, and I commend Glee for allowing us to have this moment,” he says.
- “Vogue” by Madonna
Madonna’s single “Vogue” was Billboard’s Hot 100 top mainstream song in 1990. Voguing is extremely rooted in the black LGBTQ community.
Zeke: “Vogue is an iconic song,” he says. “It’s one of the greatest pop songs ever written, it’s there for all of time, and it came from gay black culture.”
Zeke say some people condemned Madonna for “stealing” from this culture but he appreciated her for being the iconic artist to popularize the dance.
“At that time, she was at the top of her game. It’s hard to get mad at somebody for being great just based on what they look like,” he says. “She popularized something that’s dope — let her make it dope.”
- Beyoncé’s “Formation” video featuring Big Freedia
Without the New Orleans based bounce star, Big Freedia setting the note of the song with her distinctive voice the song wouldn’t be the same!
Thomas commends Beyoncé for paying homage to the genre that is bounce music.
Zeke: “Beyoncé gave the nod and said, ‘Come here, I’m going to put you on the record because I’m coming into your neck of the woods to do this album, and I want this album to feel like that grit,’” he says. “And that was dope.” “I can’t even picture what ‘Formation’ would be like without Freedia,” he says.
Big Freedia even made a guest appearance at the New Orleans stop on the “Formation World Tour”.
Zeke Thomas single, “Dealin’ With It”
To watch more of Zeke’s favorite pop culture moments click here.