Former Tallahassee Mayor and Florida gubernatorial candidate Andrew Gillum resurfaced on Monday in a video message to his supporters uploaded to his official Instagram account.
The message follows Gillum's admittance into rehab for alcohol addiction following the March 13 scandal at the Mondrian South Beach Hotel in Miami where he reportedly suffered from an overdose.
According to numerous media outlets, including The Daily Mail, Gillum, a married dad-of-three who narrowly missed out on becoming Florida's first black governor, was too 'inebriated' to tell cops what went down when they arrived at Miami's Mondrian Hotel.
He was inside room 1107 with two more men, one of them a hunky 30-year-old male escort named Travis Dyson, who was found naked and in the throes of a drug overdose.
A police report says the third man, Aldo Mejias, 56, dialed 911 when Dyson began vomiting and collapsed.
He later told officers from the Miami Beach Police Department that he had walked in to find Gillum and Dyson 'under the influence of an unknown substance' and Gillum, 40, vomiting in the bathroom.
In a normal year, this would mark the end of a political career, but 2020 is not a normal year and Gillum appears to be testing public opinion in preparation for his second act.
In the nearly 12 minute video, Gillum appears to speak from his heart about his struggles with alcohol addiction, the shame that engulfed him after the scandal became public and the impact of losing the Florida Gubernatorial race on his mental health.
“I’d totally underestimated the impact that losing the race for Governor had on my life," said Gillum in the video.
“It was a constant reminder of failure and my own personal failures. It was a reminder that I’d let so many people down. It was a chorus of this voice that I tried for so long to quiet, which said that I wasn’t enough, that I wasn’t good enough.”
So Gillum says he turned to alcohol to numb the pain after the public loss and pretended to "live his best life" while he was drowning inside.
“I knew that if I had not dealt first with issues of addiction and the numbing that I chose with alcohol, there was no way I could start to pull back the layers and talk about what was truly happening underneath," said Gillum.
One sensitive subject that Gillum failed to address, at least in his first message, are the swirling questions regarding his sexual orientation after he was found naked in the Miami hotel room with a known openly gay escort. It's the huge elephant in the room, which Gillum never addresses directly, but he does speak about his desire to be an authentic and whole person.
"This very deep down desire to want to be a whole and complete and indivisible person. Not having to be one thing in one place and one thing in another…and a different person when I’m in this environment and this setting," said Gillum.
Openly LGBTQ supporters of Gillum who remembers the constraints and societal challenges of being closeted will undoubtedly be able to relate to this specific quote.
Gillum credits his wife R Jai, whom he calls "the epitome of grace" for never faltering in her support of him throughout his public embarrassment. Gillum goes on to say that his wife is "a woman who knows everything that I am and everything that I am not, and she chooses to love me anyhow."
R. Jai Gillum was one of many loved ones and politicos to show support for Gillum in the comment section on Instagram.
You may also recall that an open letter to Gillum, Black Men and the Media penned by Preston Mitchum and Michael Seaberry, and signed by hundreds of Black men was an early sign of support for the troubled political figure.
While acknowledging that Gillum’s incident was newsworthy because he is a public figure, the letter argued that coverage should not be done in such a “salacious way and the terrorizing of Black life must not be the primary entrée. Sharing photos of Mayor Gillum’s naked body, especially in such a vulnerable state, is inexcusable and triggering to a community that has seen our own bodies fetishized and/or slain across the nation, from the lynching tree to Main Street."
Gillum says he would rather be doing what he does best—contributing to his community and the nation in a meaningful way, but he is aware that he must prioritize his own issues before he attempts to return to public service. But according to R Jai Gillum, "The best is yet to come."