On March 13, 2020, the pandemic temporarily closed most businesses and is the general start date of quarantine, however, that wasn’t the only eventful thing that happened on that Friday morning.
The news broke of former politician Andrew Gillum being inebriated in a South Beach hotel room with suspected drugs and two other men. It was completely uncertain what happened and what the truth was, but one thing was crystal clear–– conservatives were having a ball with this news.
Conservative commentator Candace Owens released photos that were mysteriously acquired by a right-wing blog. This influenced several topics for discussion including Gillum’s sexuality, the distraction from the Democratic presidential candidates in Florida and alleged infidelity with Gillum’s wife, R. Jai Gillum. Following the scandal, Gillum made a statement in March to address the wild night.
“While I had too much to drink, I want to be clear that I have never used methamphetamines,” Gillum said. “I apologize to the people of Florida for the distraction this has caused our movement.”
In September, the former Tallahassee mayor came out as bisexual during an interview on “The Tamron Hall” show. Many, including myself, completely forgot about this entire scandal, until last Thursday. Wesley Lowery, a journalist and author, published a nearly 5,000-word piece for GQ detailing the events of last March and how it affected Gillum’s marriage.
According to the Gillums, their relationship was spiraling downward prior to the widely-discussed night. After Andrew’s loss in the 2018 Florida governor race, he relapsed into old drinking habits. All of these hidden red flags were unbeknown to the public, therefore, the events in March were shocking. This lengthy article shares two narratives told by Gillum and male escort Travis Dyson.
While the Gillums were in Miami for a wedding, Andrew says that he spent the day drinking and “at some point in the early evening, he decided to meet up with Travis Dyson.”
What happened after this is where the lines began to become blurred. Andrew recalls waking up unclothed in a hotel room surrounded by several police officers and Dyson, who accidentally overdosed.
“The last memory that I have is sitting up drinking,” Andrew said. “Because I didn’t take a drug test until two or three days later, I don’t know if there was something in my drink. But all I know is, I’m knocked out. At the point that I come back present, it’s like 11 at night and I’m in the bathroom. I don’t have any clothes on. I have no idea why. And I’m there with like five, six police officers.”
Contrary to Gillum’s statement, Dyson told Lowery that him and Gillum met many weeks prior to the wedding via the gay-dating app Grindr and “had met up multiple times for paid sexual encounters.”
Dyson told GQ that following the scandal in March he has broken off his engagement, dropped out of nursing school and solely relies on OnlyFans for an income.
Throughout this entire article, Lowery showed an impressive example of objectivity. After Andrew and R. Jai were aware that he would also be interviewing Dyson, they declined for a follow-up interview. This sentence was one of the moments that I had to pause to reread what was written.
Similar to this tweet by The New York Times reporter Astead W. Herndon, it seems as if Gillum expected to be the sole voice for the article. I received a bit of second hand embarrassment for him when it was revealed that he wouldn’t be doing a follow-up interview.
Either way, I believe that Andrew’s bisexuality is his business alone, since Black male bisexuality is overly stigmatized. Also, I am glad that him and R. Jai were able to reconcile amid the scandal. It was a nice touch to read the heartwarming backstory of their love life, which mentioned their introduction at Florida A&M University and back-and-forth romance throughout their 20s.
Hopefully, Andrew and R. Jai will find peace of mind, since they are now civilians.