Former Florida gubernatorial candidate Andrew Gillum publicly opened up about his sexuality this week for the first time.
“I don’t identify as gay, but I do identify as bisexual,” Gillum, 41, said in an interview on “The Tamron Hall Show” that aired Monday. “And that is something that I’ve never shared publicly before.”
The former mayor of Tallahassee appeared on the show alongside his wife, R. Jai, who said her husband of 11 years has been upfront with her about his sexuality.
“Many people just don’t understand bisexuality,” she said. “They think they can wrap their heads around ‘gay,’ but bisexuality is something different. … All I care about is what’s between us and what agreement we make.”
Gillum, who ran for Florida governor in 2018, had been dogged by speculation surrounding his private life for months.
The father of three was found intoxicated in a Miami Beach hotel room with two men March 12. According to police reports, officers arrived on the scene in response to a possible drug overdose involving one of the men, Travis Dyson
Police said they impounded three small plastic bags “containing suspected crystal meth” from the hotel room. Dyson, 30, reputedly worked as a male escort. The third man, 56-year-old Aldo Mejias, told The New York Times he and Dyson were longtime friends, but that he did not know Gillum personally.
At the time, Gillum ― who was Florida’s first Black gubernatorial nominee before losing to Ron DeSantis (R) by about 32,000 votes ― said he was visiting Miami for a wedding, and denied using crystal meth.
Days later, he released a statement calling the incident “a wake-up call,” and said he was voluntarily checking himself into a rehab facility to “seek help [and] guidance.”
“Since my race for governor ended, I fell into a depression that has led to alcohol abuse,” he said. “I witnessed my father suffer from alcoholism and I know the damaging effects it can have when untreated. I also know that alcoholism is often a symptom of deeper struggles.”
In his Monday interview, Gillum steered clear of specifics regarding the hotel incident and did not clarify his relationship with Dyson or Mejias, stating only, “I understand very well what people assume about that.” Still, he emphasized that his bisexuality should not be linked with any presumed acts of infidelity.
“There are men who are in marriages with women who just because they’re married to a woman doesn’t mean they’re not attracted to other women, and at any point can slip up, make a mistake, do something, and that is what it is,” he said. “The same thing in bisexual relationships.”
Among those to applaud Gillum’s decision to come out as bisexual was the National Black Justice Coalition’s executive director, David Johns.
“Gillum’s reflections demonstrate that there must be space in our country for people to be themselves without shame and fear,” Johns said in an email statement sent to HuffPost. “When we are forced by harmful societal expectations to operate in black and white, with no room to express the many gray areas of ourselves that make us who we are, we get hurt.”
He added, “These conversations and the healing they may provide for so many members of our community are required for all Black people to be free ― healthy, happy, and whole.”