Former Democratic gubernatorial candidate Andrew Gillum said in a television interview broadcast Monday that he is bisexual as he continues to re-enter the public spotlight after a March incident in which he was found intoxicated in a Miami Beach hotel room.
“I don’t identify as gay,” Gillum said, “but I do identify as bisexual. And that is something I have never shared publicly before.”
Gillum sat down for an interview with Tamron Hall in which he discussed at length the incident in a Miami Beach hotel room where he was found, drunk and nude, in the same place where an acquaintance was being treated for a drug overdose.
That news, while largely overshadowed at the time by the burgeoning COVID-19 pandemic, appeared to derail the political future of one of the state’s rising Democratic stars. Gillum in 2018 surprised many long-time observers by securing the Democratic nomination in a crowded field and drew national attention as the first Black nominee for Florida Governor for a major party.
Even after he lost the election, some questioned if he was considering a run for President. But since entering rehab immediately after the Miami incident, he’s largely pulled back from public view.
Hall devoted the full hour of the season premiere of the “Tamron Hall Show” to the interview with Gillum and wife, R. Jai Gillum.
She did ask Gillum in the interview if he still envisioned running for office again.
“Would it be hard? Absolutely,” Gillum said. “But Donald Trump is President.” He suggested if many politicians hold office despite making scandalous assertions about their own sex lives while completely sober, he may yet come back from the Miami incident.
That evening at the Mondrian South Beach Hotel took up much of the interview with Hall, but Gillum also discussed turbulence in his life leading to that night.
In the hour, Gillum revealed that after his close loss to Ron DeSantis in the 2018 gubernatorial race, he began drinking heavily, including putting whiskey in his morning coffee.
He refused direction from R. Jai to seek counseling for depression, and he revealed he struggled with his family life at home.
“She barely can abide me, I barely can abide her,” Gillum said of his marriage at the time. “Everything the kids do irritates me.”
In March, he went to Miami ahead of his wife to attend a wedding where he was to officiate, but ended up with an acquaintance he had known a matter of months, he said. That friend was presumably Travis Dyson.
While Gillum described that person initially as a friend, he said he had only known the individual for a matter of months and had discussed his run for Governor. Media reports later identified Dyson as a male escort known in Miami.
Gillum said he was drinking before connecting with his friend and was drinking in the hotel room before blacking out for three hours. He said he still has no memory of most of the night and woke up to be surrounded by police and being told his friend overdosed.
Gillum had ignored about 50 phone calls from his wife at that time, R. Jai told Hall.
Gillum said he is fully aware of speculation he was in a sexual relationship with Dyson. But he said there was no romantic relationship with his friend.
“The reason why I went to that room is probably no different than how somebody might communicate with someone they are in a friendship, relationship, whatever with,” he said. “I understand very well what people assume about that.”
Gillum made clear he did not participate in a “sex orgy,” as suggested by conservative blogger Candace Owens when she published police reports about the incident on Twitter.
Addressing a photo published later that showed Gillum nude on the floor of the hotel, Gillum told Hall: “That was not anything more than a person being at their most vulnerable state, unconscious, having given no consent, and someone decided to use a moment where I was literally lying in my own vomit,” he said.
“Everyone believes the absolute worst about that day. At this stage, I don’t have anything else to have to conceal.”
Hall raised the topic of Gillum’s sexuality, but said she was remiss to ask the question because being gay would not disqualify a politician from office.
Gillum circled back to that however, and made clear he identifies as bisexual.
R. Jai revealed she knew of Gillum’s sexuality before they wed. She never felt it was a matter that should be discussed with the public. That’s in part because of a poor understanding of bisexuality.
“Many people just don’t understand bisexuality,” she said. “They think they can wrap their heads around gay, but bisexuality is something different.”
Gillum said police drove him from the scene and he initially thought he would be taken to the police station as a witness to a crime. Instead, he ended up at his own hotel, where R. Jai had arrived and was sleeping. He told her about some of the events of the evening, at least what he recalled at the time. R. Jai recalled calling him “reckless.”
The couple also disclosed that their marriage had been in trouble well before the incident, and Gillum said both “gave up on each other” in July. R. Jai recalled feeling the one bright side to her husband losing the Governor’s race was she would get her husband back in day-to-day life but that didn’t happen.
Gillum also discussed his family history with drinking; his father was an alcoholic. At low stages after the election, Gillum said he was drinking whiskey secretly with his morning coffee.