Zeke Smith is ready to forgive Jeff Varner for outing him as transgender
on Survivor: Game Changers
-- and he thinks others should forgive him too.
ET caught up with the two-time player backstage at the 28th Annual GLAAD Media Awards in New York City on Saturday night, where he reflected on the moment that changed his life, and why it's important to "turn adversaries into allies."
"Varner and I, we've spoken a couple of times," Smith revealed. "For me, anyone who has expressed sincere remorse, as he has, I think should be embraced, because that's how we encourage people to change and turn adversaries into allies."
Since the controversial episode
aired last month, the Brooklyn native said he's received "overwhelming" support.
"The reaction has been overwhelming positive -- not just from my family and friends who have rallied around me and showed me all kinds of love I never knew I had in my life, but also from the public at large," he shared. "I feel really grateful to have the response that I've had."
"Thousands of people have shared their stories about how that moment affected them, about how it opened up conversations within their own families. You know, I think it was a result of a great partnership between me and GLAAD, Survivor and CBS to turn a really dark moment into something positive," he added. "I'm really proud to have just been a part of it."