In what appeared to be a highly coordinated media blitz, Andrew Gillum, the former Florida Democratic gubernatorial candidate, made headlines on Monday when he revealed in an interview that he identified as bisexual. Within hours, influential Democrats had weighed in with statements of support, many of which used the same phrasing or talking points to prop up the once-celebrated politician.
“To be very honest with you, when you didn’t ask the question,” Gillum told daytime talk show host Tamron Hall, “you put it out there as whether or not I identify as gay. And the answer is I don’t identify as gay, but I do identify as bisexual, and that is something that I have never shared publicly before,”
Former Florida governor candidate Andrew Gillum tells Tamron Hall he’s bisexual: “That is something I have never shared publicly before” pic.twitter.com/prUW7NPk1C
— The Recount (@therecount) September 14, 2020
The bombshell comes months after the former CNN contributor checked himself into a rehab center for alcohol and drug abuse stemming from a February incident where Gillum was found passed out in a Miami hotel along with a male escort.
Back in March, Miami Beach Police found Gillum in a highly intoxicated state at a Mondrian South Beach hotel. The Democrat was visibly impaired and unable to communicate with the responding officers, who were primarily focused on trying to help the other man present at the scene who allegedly overdosed on crystal methamphetamine.
That man was later revealed to be a gay porn-star and male escort, Travis Dyson.
Following the scandal, Gillum issued a statement, saying that he had been drinking but was unable to recall taking drugs. He would later apologize before stepping away from the political arena to receive treatment.
Gillum would resurface a short time later in July, detailing his overdose and issuing an update on his stint in rehab, but he avoided the subject of prostitution relating to his relationship with Dyson.
Today’s announcement is the latest chapter in a once-promising career for the former Tallahassee mayor. Gillum’s declaration naturally sent shockwaves across Florida’s political community, with both sides of the aisle weighing in on breaking news.
While Republicans pointed to Gillum’s political shortcomings and the decision by police to not pursue criminal charges against him, Democrats praised him for his “honesty,” orchestrating a coordinated, copy/paste PR campaign to sweep Gillum’s responsibility in the fiasco under the rug.
The public relations machinery of Florida Democrats was on full blast, with the phrase “his truth” becoming a recurring theme in publicly issued statements of support.
This interview is reason 2020 why @AndrewGillum is my brother and friend, and have been for over 18 years.
Brother, live your TRUTH, FREE yourself, and give others permission to do the same.
— Shevrin Jones (@ShevrinJones) September 14, 2020
— Rep. Carlos G Smith (@CarlosGSmith) September 14, 2020
So incredibly proud of @AndrewGillum. Everyone should always be allowed to be true to themselves and come out on their own terms. He didn’t have to come out as bisexual… he doesn’t owe us anything… but proud of him for living his truth. 💙 #FlaPol
— Joshua Hicks (@joshuarhicks) September 14, 2020
— Kayla vanWieringen (@kaylavanw) September 14, 2020
While Gillum’s emotional interview took courage to finally admit what many had whispered about in Tallahassee for years, he still has a lot of unanswered questions that he’ll have to deal with should he choose to return to public life.
Whatever Gillum’s “truth” is, it’ll need to be relatively close to the actual truth, which includes marital infidelity, an apparent addiction to drugs and possibly alcohol, and a penchant for dishonesty in the way he lived his life prior to today’s public disclosure. It will also require some facts relating to his work as mayor that resulted in an FBI investigation that snared a number of his associates, but, so far at least, not him. Accountability still matters, and many of Gillum’s well wishers today were willing to ignore Gillum’s reality in exchange for celebrating “his truth.”
Perhaps one day, we’ll have the objective truth, and not just Andrew Gillum’s carefully crafted, made-for-tv version of it.