By Jim Saunders, The News Service of Florida
TALLAHASSEE — Former Democratic gubernatorial candidate Andrew Gillum said in a television interview aired 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.
Gillum said on the “Tamron Hall Show” that he doesn’t “identify as gay, but I do identify as bisexual. And that is something that I have never shared publicly before.”
The statement came after a tumultuous six-month period for Gillum, a former Tallahassee mayor who narrowly lost the 2018 gubernatorial race to Republican Ron DeSantis and had been widely viewed as a rising star in the Democratic Party. He would have been the state’s first Black governor if elected.
In a March 12 incident, Gillum was found inebriated in a South Beach hotel room where suspected crystal meth was discovered and another man had reportedly overdosed, according to police. Gillum announced after the incident that he was going to a rehabilitation facility for alcohol abuse.
Gillum, 41, emerged from political exile in July with an 11-minute video posted on social media that addressed depression and alcoholism. Gillum spoke in the video about the impact of losing the governor’s race, which was decided by fewer than 33,000 votes.
“I had totally underestimated the impact that losing the race for governor had had on my life, and on the way that those impacts started to show up in every aspect of my life,” said Gillum, who has long been married to his wife, R. Jai, and is the father of three children. “It was a constant reminder of failure and my own personal failures. … It was a reminder that I had let so many people down.”
Gillum, who worked as a political analyst for CNN after the election loss, also praised his wife in the video, calling her “a woman who knows everything that I am, and everything that I am not, and she chooses to love me.”
The statement Monday on the Tamron Hall talk show about being bisexual immediately drew heavy attention, with the snippet posted on social media. Gillum quickly drew support from groups such as the Human Rights Campaign and the National Black Justice Coalition, which advocates for Black LGBTQ people.
“Gillum’s reflections demonstrate that there must be space in our country for people to be themselves without shame and fear,” David Johns, executive director of the coalition, said in a prepared statement. “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.”