Andrew Gillum, the first Black nominee for Florida governor, came out as bisexual on the Tamron Hall Show on Monday.
“I don’t identify as gay,” Gillum said, “but I do identify as bisexual. And that is something I have never shared publicly before.”
In the interview with Hall, Gillum also addressed a high-profile incident last March, in which Gillum was found nude and drunk while an associate, Travis Dyson, was being treated for an apparent drug overdose at a hotel in Miami Beach.
Gillum's wife, R. Jai Gillum, joined the interview and confirmed that she has always been aware of her husband's sexual identity.
She did say that she has long believed his sexuality should not be part of the public conversation, in part because of pervasive misconceptions about bisexuality.
“Many people just don’t understand bisexuality,” she said. “They think they can wrap their heads around gay, but bisexuality is something different.”
The matter became a source of wide speculation, however, after the Miami incident, in which conservative blogger Candace Owens first suggested that Gillum had been in an orgy with other men. A photograph later emerged showing Gillum nude in the hotel room unconscious on the floor.
Gillum denied he went to hotel room as part of any romantic relationship and said was not involved in an “orgy” or anything like it. Of the photo that was leaked, he said, “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 also said he had never used crystal meth; the police had confiscated a substance suspected to be crystal meth at the site. He did check himself into rehab for alcohol abuse shortly after the incident.
Gillum, a Democrat, lost the Florida governor's race to Republican Ron DeSantis in 2018. The race was marked by racist dog whistles on DeSantis's part; at one point, referring to Florida's economy, he said Gillum would "monkey this up." DeSantis denied that the comment referred to race.
Gillum is a former mayor of Tallahassee, the capital city of Florida. He is a longtime supporter of LGBTQ+ equality.
Several civil rights organizations praised Gillum for coming out. “As R. Jai beautifully explained in the interview with Tamron Hall, no one should have the pressure of explaining or defending their relationship, the private covenant made between them and their partner(s), to people who are unable or unwilling to understand," David Johns, executive director of the National Black Justice Coalition, said in a press release.
“As the United States continues with our long overdue racial reckoning, it’s imperative that we also address the deep-seated homophobia, biphobia, bierasure, and transphobia that permeates our everyday lives, forcing countless people to hide essential parts of themselves at a great cost to themselves — and to our cultural consciousness at large. I am proud of my brother Andrew for blazing new trails by inviting the world into the fact that he is bisexual. He’s creating space for us to talk about a segment of our community that experiences erasure, stigma, and discrimination from both within and outside the LGBTQIA+ community. It is my hope that the conversation does not end with today’s interview, but is continued without stigma, and with a whole lot of grace."
Alphonso David, president of the Human Rights Campaign, tweeted the following:
Watch a clip from the Tamron Hall interview below.