TALLAHASSEE — For months after his messy brush with law enforcement in a Miami Beach hotel room, Andrew Gillum has been subjected to rumors about his sexuality.
In an interview with the talk show host Tamron Hall that aired Monday, his first since that early morning six months ago, the 2018 Democratic nominee for governor clarified that part of his private life.
“I don’t identify as gay but I do identify as bisexual,” Gillum said. “And that is something that I have never shared publicly before.”
Miami Beach police responded to a hotel room on March 13 where they reportedly found one man who had overdosed, a second man and an extremely inebriated Gillum. Police also found what they suspected to be crystal methamphetamine in the room.
Once the police report detailing the incident was publicized, rumors about what Gillum was doing in the room with those two men — one of whom, Travis Dyson, was listed under an alias on a website for male escorts — immediately began to swirl.
“I felt like the love that I have between my wife and I, my family, but most important, the authenticity that I try to lead with, was all into question at this point,” Gillum said. “And not even into question. Something else had been assumed by that.”
In the wide ranging and personal interview, Gillum denied that he was at the hotel room that night to have sex. He said he had too much to drink the night of the incident, and that he can’t recall a three-hour portion of the evening.
Gillum said that when he lost consciousness, it was only himself and one other man, presumably Dyson, in the hotel room. When he came to hours later, several police officers and another man were in the room, he said.
Although the police report from the night said Gillum was “unable to communicate with the officers due to his inebriated state,” Gillum recalled in the interview Monday that law enforcement officials asked him whether he’d taken drugs that night.
“I would say the reason why I went to that room is probably no different than how anybody might communicate with someone that they are in a friendship, relationship, whatever, with,” Gillum said.
R. Jai Gillum, Andrew’s wife, was in town with him that evening at a rental house, the couple told Hall.
The Gillums discussed at length a photo of Andrew Gillum that later surfaced online which appeared to show him naked and passed out near a pool of his own vomit. Although law enforcement officials did not verify photos of the scene when they first surfaced, the Gillums seemed to acknowledge on Monday that the person depicted was, in fact, the 2018 Democratic nominee for governor.
“It was hard to see. That’s my husband. The strongest man I know,” a visibly emotional R. Jai Gillum said.
After the incident, Andrew Gillum entered rehabilitation for alcohol abuse.
March’s incident was the nadir of a dizzying political ride for Gillum. In August 2018, the former mayor of Tallahassee scored an upset win in the Democratic primary for governor, which instantly vaulted him to national political prominence.
Even after he lost the hard-fought governor’s race to Ron DeSantis that November, Gillum retained a national platform as a political contributor to CNN.
But the national spotlight also renewed scrutiny into some of Gillum’s personal and political dealings. A federal grand jury subpoena demanded Gillum and others within his political network turn over records from as far back as 2015, including information about his campaign, a charity he worked for and a former employer.
It’s unclear what is at the center of the investigation — or if it’s connected to the federal investigation into Tallahassee’s government that damaged Gillum during the 2018 governor’s race. At any rate, his political committee has spent more than $1 million on legal expenses since the subpoena arrived last year.
Gillum said on Monday he still believes he could run for office again someday. After all, he said, there is precedent for political figures with checkered pasts rising to the highest offices in the country.
“Would it be hard? Absolutely,” Gillum said. “But Donald Trump is president.”