Disgraced former Florida Democratic gubernatorial candidate Andrew Gillum has credited the coronavirus pandemic and therapy for helping to save his marriage, nearly a year after he was found passed out in a Miami hotel with a male escort.
On March 12, 2020, Gillum was pictured unconscious and naked alongside sex worker Travis Dyson in a $220 per-night hotel room in South Beach.
The married father-of-three was pictured laying in a pool of his own vomit, with plastic baggies of suspected crystal meth and prescription pill bottles scattered on the floor.
Gillum who narrowly missed out on becoming Florida’s first ever black governor, entered rehab for alcohol abuse shortly afterwards. He has denied ‘knowingly’ taking any drugs that night.
The 41-year-old former Tallahassee Mayor said he still believes he was ‘set up’, suggesting his drink may have been spiked.
Now, some 11 months on, Gillum opened up to GQ about the scandal in a joint interview with his wife, R. Jai.
The couple, who married in 2009, told the outlet that despite the ordeal, they are still very much in love but ‘nursing bruises’.
They credited the survival of their relationship to hours of tearful talks, couples therapy, and a new policy of ‘radical honesty’ – all of which occurred while they were confined at home amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
‘I think that the pandemic probably saved our marriage,’ R. Jai said.
Andrew added: ‘In the sense that we couldn’t go anywhere.’
Gillum also claims that he was called by former President Bill Clinton after the news broke who offered his support, telling him: ‘As you know, I’ve been there.’
Disgraced former Florida Democratic gubernatorial candidate Andrew Gillum (shown with wife R. Jai) has credited the coronavirus pandemic, couples therapy, and a policy of ‘radical honesty’ for helping to save his marriage
On March 12, 2020, Gillum was pictured unconscious and naked n a $220 per-night hotel in South Beach
The married father-of-three was pictured laying in a pool of his own vomit. There were plastic baggies of suspected crystal meth (above) and pill bottles scattered on the floor
The infamous March 12 incident was first disclosed publicly by conservative firebrand Candace Owens on Twitter, who leaked a police report about the incident the following day.
Gillum and R. Jai had been in Miami at the time for a friend’s wedding that Gillum was set to officiate.
The day before the ceremony, Gillum told GQ he had spent the day drinking heavily on the beach.
At some point in the evening he said he met up with Travis Dyson, a then 30-year-old nurse and sex worker, whom he claims to have met a few months prior.
The pair then left the beach and took an Uber to the Mondrian South Beach, and went up to room 1107.
‘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],’ Gillum said of Dyson. ‘The last memory I have is sitting up and drinking.’
Gillum said he was unsure whether he was drugged because he wasn’t tested for drug use until three days later. He told the outlet he didn’t knowingly take drugs that night.
‘I don’t know if there was something in my drink. But all I know is, I’m knocked out,’ he said. ‘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.’
A police report obtained by DailyMail.com at the time said that Gillum was reportedly ‘so incapacitated’ at the time officers arrived, he was unable to communicate.
Gillum and R. Jai (pictured together) had been in Miami at the time for a friend’s wedding that Gillum was set to officiate
Photos from inside the scene also showed beer bottles strewn across the room, and bed sheets covered in bodily fluid
A slew of drugs, both prescription and illegal, were found inside the $220-per-night hotel room, including three bags of what police believe was crystal meth
There was a small bottle of an injectable medicine containing alprostadil (left) which is typically used to treat erectile dysfunction and should never be mixed with alcohol. Pictured right is a toiletry bag inside the hotel room with prescription pills
Officers also found a substance in the room suspected to be crystal methamphetamine, in addition to white pills scattered across the floor, empty containers of the anti-anxiety drug citalopram, and abapentin, which helps combat seizures and nerve pain.
A small bottle of an injectable medicine containing alprostadil, typically used to treat erectile dysfunction was also found at the scene.
Photos from inside the scene also showed beer bottles strewn across the room, and bed sheets covered in bodily fluid.
Gillum was found inside the bathroom vomiting, police said. An image captured at the scene showed a naked Gillum passed out on his side with vomit next to his face.
Police were summoned to the hotel room by a third man, Aldo Mejias, 56, who told dispatchers Gillum and Dyson were under the influence of ‘an unknown substance’.
Gillum said he had never met Meijas, and told GQ he believes he was ‘set up’ by the two men.
‘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,’ he said. ‘So at this point I’m like, “This is a set up”.’
Regardless of his suspicions of foul play, Gillum said he knows he never should have gone back to the hotel 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,’ he told GQ. ‘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.’
He continued: ‘The [unfaithful] part was I put myself in a situation where anything could have happened, including something that could have betrayed or would have betrayed my vows. And that’s the part that I wanted to own outright. Because I knew that much. Given the state that I was in, I knew that much was possible.’
Travis Dyson, a then 30-year-old nurse and sex worker, was found unconscious in the room with Gillum. He said he met the politician on the gay dating app Grindr weeks earlier
The 41-year-old former Tallahassee Mayor said he still believes he was ‘set up’ (pictured: Andrew Gillum takes questions from the media while his wife and children look on after casting their ballots at the Good Shepherd Catholic Church Precinct in Tallahassee on November 6, 2018)
Gillum also claims that he was called by former President Bill Clinton (left with Gillum) after the news broke who offered his support, telling him: ‘As you know, I’ve been there’
Dyson also spoke to the publication to share his version of events for what happened that night.
The escort said he first met Gillum a few weeks earlier on the gay dating app Grindr, and had since met up with him multiple times for paid sexual encounters.
He claimed that Gillum passed out after taking an ecstasy pill known as ‘G’, typically used by gay men to enhance their sex drives.
Dyson added that on that night, in addition to others, both he and Gillum had taken G and other drugs.
He also pushed back against Gillum’s claims that he was set up, though admitted to taking photos of him while he was unconscious and sending them to friends.
He further added that he took care of Gillum for several hours before accidentally overdosing himself.
It was sometime after he passed out that Meijas turned up at the hotel and called 911, he said.
Dyson affirmed that Meijas and Gillum had never met, but said he was another client and had showed up for a separate appointment.
‘Everything I did was trying to help Andrew,’ Dyson told GQ of March 12, adding that his own life has since been derailed after being forced to leave his nursing graduate program and resorting to selling nudes on OnlyFans for financial income.
As reported by GQ, Gillum and R. Jai reportedly cancelled a scheduled follow up interview with the outlet, after learning that they’d spoken to Dyson.
Dyson said his own life has since been derailed after being forced to leave his nursing graduate program and turning to OnlyFans for financial income
He claimed that Gillum passed out after taking an ecstasy pill known as ‘G’, typically used by gay men to enhance their sex drives
In their initial interview, R. Jai said she had been frantically calling Gillum across March 12 trying to track him down after growing worried of his whereabouts.
‘I am thinking that Andrew is somewhere drunk, and I am scared that he has either been arrested for a DUI or that he’s had a bad accident,’ she said on reflection.
She said she eventually sent him a furious text and went to bed, only to awake the next morning to find him frantically pacing in the front yard of their rental property.
‘He’s like, “I need to tell you something.”’ R. Jai recalled. ‘I am so confused because it just sounds like something out of a Lifetime movie. Police, O.D.? It just doesn’t make any sense.’
Within hours, Candace Owens had posted the police report to Twitter and Gillum became headline news.
While conservative commentators reveled in his embarrassment, Gillum said a number of Democrats and friends rallied around him to privately offer their support.
Among them was former President Bill Clinton, who reportedly told him: ‘As you know, I’ve been there. I know what it means to feel at your lowest and make decisions at your lowest that you don’t recognize yourself in.’
R. Jai, meanwhile, reportedly adopted a far firmer tone, warning him he needed to get help immediately ‘if you want a fighting chance at your family.’
Days later, Gillum went to rehab to be treated for alcohol abuse for more than a month and a half.
During that time, R. Jai said she considered divorcing Gillum and even hired an AirBnb apartment for either one of them to move into once he got out of treatment.
‘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 told GQ.
‘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 say they then enrolled in therapy both individually and together, which they credit for helping them save their relationship.
In their initial interview, R. Jai said she had been frantically calling Gillum across March 12 trying to track him down after growing worried of his whereabouts
In two years building up to March 12, the couple said their relationship was already on the rocks, describing it as mechanical.
After winning the Florida gubernatorial primary, Gillum said he asked R. Jai to quit her full-time job at the Florida Dental Association and join him in trail full time but she declined.
‘I kind of packed it away. Like, I said it was okay. And it probably wasn’t,’ Gillum said.
He then went on to lose the 2018 election to Ron DeSantis by 32,000 votes. Gillum said his frustration over the lost quickly turned into resentment.
‘You go through the process of all the things you could have done differently, and sinking deeper into a depression,’ he said.
After his loss, Gillum was not an elected official for the first time in 16 years. Instead of taking time to process his defeat, he said he attempted to distract himself by keeping busy, spending the first three months of 2019 on the road.
However, in February the same year his father died, which is when Gillum said his drinking habit intensified.
He said he first started pouring whiskey into his morning coffee, before finding himself drinking clear spirits throughout much of the day.
R. Jai said at the time she asked her husband to come to therapy but he declined.
‘I was done asking you to come to therapy with me. I had given up on you; you had given up on me,’ she told GQ.
‘I think I had convinced myself “He needs help, I cannot help him, and he refuses to go get help. I’m out.” And what does that look like…? How do we make this amicable for our children? Because this is not working for me.’
Gillum first came out as bisexual during an interview last September. He said at the time that R. Jai had known of his sexual orientation for years, a claim the couple reiterated during their latest interview.
He said he had previously considered disclosing that he was bisexual during his 2014 mayoral run, but was advised against it by R. Jai and one of his political advisers.
For the moment, Gillum said he’s not considering a return to politics but he has inched his way back into public life in recent months, having launched a podcast and recently anchored election coverage for BET Digital.
On the subject of attempting to resuscitate his political career, Gillum said: ‘No, and that’s not to say not ever.… It doesn’t tug at me in that way.’