Dan Gasby says he believes race plays a role in the backlash he received after revealing that he is in a relationship with another woman while caring for his ailing wife, model and restaurateur B. Smith, who has Alzheimer's disease.
Gasby, 64, who is African-American, revealed in December that he and Alex Lerner, 53, who is white, were in a romantic relationship, sparking an angry response from B. Smith fans. Gasby said he has even received death threats.
"The 800-pound gorilla in this situation is she's white,'' Gasby told Al Roker on TODAY Wednesday.
"In other words, if Alex were black, you don't think that..." Al said.
"Nah,'' Gasby said. "Not at all. I'm not supposed to be conscripted to somebody because of their race."
Gasby also responded to criticism about why he made his relationship with Lerner public rather than just keeping it private as he cares for his 69-year-old wife, who was diagnosed in 2013 with early-onset Alzheimer's disease.
"Because that's what Barbara asked me to do, to talk about it,'' he said. "It spun out of control to 'I'm having an affair. This woman, because of who she is, is taking B's money. We're abusing B. B wouldn't want this.' These people have never even talked to B."
Gasby and his wife - whose full name is Barbara Smith - spent the time after her diagnosis spreading awareness of the disease and speaking about the challenges of living with it. B. Smith is a former fashion model who had a nationally-syndicated television show, "B. Smith With Style," owned multiple restaurants, and frequently appeared as a guest on TODAY.