Andrew Gillum calls hotel incident a ‘set-up’ but admits he made poor choices
Gillum and his wife R. Jai are in therapy following the scandal that derailed the career of the former Florida gubernatorial candidate
Andrew Gillum and his wife R. Jai Gillum have come to a place of honesty in their marriage in the aftermath of the politician being found half-naked, drunk, and unresponsive in a hotel room with another man.
The former mayor of Tallahassee and his wife spoke to GQ in a feature that was published Thursday. It has been almost a year since he was found in a Miami hotel with sex worker Travis Dyson. Andrew later entered rehab and then revealed that he was bisexual during an appearance on The Tamron Hall Show.
Andrew told the outlet that his unsuccessful bid to become Florida governor in 2018 led to a drinking problem. He lost to now Gov. Ron DeSantis by just 32,000 votes and for the first time in 16 years, he was not an elected official. By that point, they say, the marriage had become “mechanical.”
He was looking for an “escape,” which ultimately led him to seek it in others.
“He offers me something to drink.… I’m not really sure, like, what it is and what’s in it because I’m already kind of [drunk].… The last memory that I have is sitting up drinking,” Andrew told GQ about the events of March 12 at the Mondrian South Beach Hotel.
“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.”
R. Jai told Lowery that she had a lot of questions following the incident and what it meant for her marriage. She wed Andrew in 2009 and the couple has three children. She’s been at his side as his profile rose in the Democratic party locally and nationally and knew before the couple married that he was bisexual.
“Once we got past all that, nothing has changed [from] the Andrew that I’ve dated on and off for about six years, Andrew that I’ve known as a friend for even longer,” she said. “So now I’m like, ‘We’re just a couple dealing with the same things that other people deal with.’ There is nothing different.”
The incident became public fodder after conservative firebrand Candace Owens posted the police reports of the incident on Twitter. His brother altered Andrew that he was trending.
“What I’m reading in this report is some tryst, some three people, this, that, and the third, and all of these are things that I have no recollection of. I never even met this third person,” Andrew said. “So at this point, I’m like, ‘This is set up.’ ”
However, he acknowledged that he was at fault for being in the hotel room in the first place.
“Me being and putting myself in this situation to even communicate with another adult at that level was a mistake on my part,” Andrew said. “I’m an adult, and I know that you don’t put yourself in certain situations. And I still made choices to put myself in that.”
R. Jai contemplated divorce while he was in rehab and even started moving money into a separate account. She also rented an Airbnb apartment.
“Neither one of us ended up going, because as soon as he came back, I just realized… I don’t want to scare my kids,” she said. “Their dad has been gone for 40-something days, and I can’t just leave. And then it just became ‘We can be civil and be friends and figure this out.’ And then it became a ‘For now, I want to fight for my marriage and so does he, so let’s just do that.’ ”
The couple is now focused on therapy, individually and as a couple.
“I think for us, deep and intimate conversations that probably would have once been extremely painful and hard to do,” R. Jai said. “We bought these relationship cards where we just ask each other questions, and it’s been kind of cool to talk in a way that I think is just different.”
When contacted by GQ, Dyson denied setting Andrew up and claimed to have only taken pics of him in an inebriated state to show him later what happened.
“Andrew passed out after taking ‘G’,” Dyson claimed of a drug that enhances the sexual experience.
He also alleged that the two men had met “multiple times for paid sexual encounters.”
Lowery reached out to the Gillums for their response to Dyson’s claims. However, they declined to respond on the record about Dyson’s version of events and cancelled scheduled follow-up interviews.
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