Former Tallahassee mayor and 2018 candidate for Florida governor Andrew Gillum came out as bisexual on on Monday, the first time he has publicly acknowledged his sexual orientation.
Mr Gillum addressed the topic in his first public interview since reports surfaced earlier this year of police finding him passed out from drunkenness in a Miami hotel room with a male escort who had allegedly overdosed on crystal meth.
“I don’t identify as gay, but I do identify as bisexual,” the Florida Democrat, a rising star in his party as recently as two years ago, said in an interview with Tamron Hall that aired on Monday.
“That is something I’ve never shared publicly before,” he said, flanked by his wife.
Mr Gillum checked into a rehab facility to help treat alcoholism and depression in March after the initial story from the hotel incident broke.
He said in his interview with Ms Hall that he had felt deep shame when a British tabloid published the photo of him passed out in the hotel room.
“When that photo came out, I didn’t recognize the person on the floor,” Mr Gillum 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 said.
Mr Gillum lost the 2018 Florida governor’s race to Republican Ron DeSantis by less than 33,000 votes out of more than 8.1m cast, a margin of less than half a percentage point.
That close margin triggered an automatic machine recount, which confirmed Mr DeSantis had won. Mr Gillum conceded 11 days after Election Night.
The former Tallahassee mayor’s wife, R. Jai, told Ms Hall she had known about her husbands’s sexuality before they got married.
“So many people just don’t understand bisexuality,” R. Jai said.
“Bisexuality is just something different. I just believe that love and sexuality exist on a spectrum. All I care about is what’s between us and what agreement we make.”
Mr Gillum urged viewers of the segment with Ms Hall not to automatically associate bisexuality with infidelity.
“Bisexuality in and of itself doesn’t lead to unfaithfulness,” he said. “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. The same thing in bisexual relationships.”
He continued: “You can be attracted to both, you got a bigger terrain out there that you have to contend with, but you can still choose to be physically with one person.”