When the news initially broke in mid-March that former Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum had engaged in scandalous activity with drug paraphernalia, a male escort and had been photographed in the nude in a Miami Beach hotel, many Gillum supporters were shocked.
It is hard to believe that someone who was dominating the political atmosphere in 2018 as the first Black nominee from a major party to run for governor could be caught and viewed in such a distasteful light. But as of late, the story behind questioning Guillum’s sexual preferences and affiliations have finally reached the surface.
After years of hiding his truth, Gillum broke his silence in a Monday airing of the nationally syndicated “The Tamron Hall Show,” telling the host with his wife this side that he is bisexual. He specifically said, “I don’t identify as gay but I do identify as bisexual.”
As the interview progressed, Gillum exemplified transparency and raw emotion as he talked about his unraveling following a narrow loss to Ron DeSantis in the battle for Florida’s top job. Guillum said that he had been battling with deep depression and turned to drinking as his coping mechanism, even going as far as adding whiskey to his morning coffee.
Gillum admitted that he questioned whether he wanted to live anymore and had to check himself into a rehabilitation center.
The Black community has been scarily silent in support or condemnation of Gillum “fall from grace,” except for joking comments in the gossip blog, “The Shade Room.” All of which mock him and his actions but mostly focused on tearing down his alma mater, our beloved Florida A&M University.
I also have been silent, one part of me hoping it was untrue and this isn’t reality, and the other being ashamed for him, his family and for FAMU. I am proud that the LGBTQIA community is now being talked about around my friend groups and in general because we are pulling back the layers of not only Guillum and his story but of so many others; but I can’t help but feel sad because this topic is still so taboo in the Black community.
Black people as a community already struggle to climb the ladder of success in life in every endeavor and aspect, and this scene pushed us back down because unfortunately the odds are stacked against us to succeed in this systematic oppressive country in which we reside.
But there is one question that I believe is lingering in everyone’s mind: Is his political career over?
Hall, the interviewer, was asked what the future holds for Gillum? She then returned with, “That’s the question, will voters hear his explanation and accept it? I’m not sure if he wants to enter into the political world, but I do believe in some way he wants his voice to be heard.”
She summed up what I felt in my heart to be true. Yet, I believe his career as a leader will never be the same. I believe he can create a platform to be an advocate for the LGBTQIA community. Especially in the Black community.
I am absolutely certain that will come with push back from older generations of the Black community, but will certainly cultivate a sense of respect in our younger generations.
It is no secret that we are not awarded the same luxury as our non-Black counterparts of being knocked down and being able to get back up again. So the biggest thing that I wish for him is support in every avenue moving forward.