Parties at the British embassy “can be pretty stuffy,” allows its deputy head of mission, Patrick Davies.
Not so Friday night, when Davies hosted the Human Rights Campaign and other gay advocates for a countdown to the U.K.’s first gay marriages, which took place over the weekend.
Queen Victoria didn’t think there was such a thing as lesbianism, cracked one openly gay embassy staffer mulling making her partnership legal.
The “unstuffiness” was clear from the email invites, which advised “glamourous/business” attire.
There was gold lame, and at least one rainbow neck tie which matched the rainbow cake, sitting among the usual embassy tea sandwiches and delicate canapés.
Cocktails were named after famous gay Britons ( “The Oscar Wilde, “The Elton John”).
The ambassadorial residence’s main parlor was aglow in a riot of colors while a deejay churned out hits.
The Gay Men’s Chorus of Washington, .D.C., serenaded guests on arrival.
“Britain has come a long way,” said Davies, who was filling in for Ambassador Peter Westmacott. “Fifty years ago it was a crime to be gay in the U.K.”
Prime Minister David Cameron has had his own evolution of sorts on the issue, but today is a proud endorser of gay rights, even apologizing for Thatcher-era opposition and rhetoric.
Writing in PinkNews, the gay and lesbian website, the prime minister said allowing gay marriage upholds Britain’s “proud traditions of respect, tolerance and equal worth.”
Congratulations to the gay couples who have already been married – and my best wishes to those about to be on this historic day.
— David Cameron (@David_Cameron) March 29, 2014
Some have suggested his support will cost him and the Tories votes at the next election.
That concern was far from minds Friday night when the crowd cheered and toasted at exactly 8 p.m. local time, the hour the first ceremonies could take place across the pond.
“It’s a sign of the diversity of the human spirit and the compassion of the human heart,” Davies said.
Another sign of Britain letting her hair down: the embassy announced it will have a float in this summer’s gay pride parade in Washington.