In what one disgruntled UK newspaper is calling a “drunken-uncle routine,” Britain’s House of Commons Speaker John Bercow used a speech yesterday marking Queen Elizabeth’s Diamond Jubilee to boldly praise gay rights advances made during her long reign.
Said Bercow at London’s Westminster Hall, as Her Majesty looked on with a royal but unmistakable “Gurl, are you seriously going there?” reaction:
This is a different Britain from 1952, but not one detached from then. We are in so many ways a much bigger, brighter and better United Kingdom.
This is a land where men and women today are equal under the law and where your people are respected, regardless of how they live, how they look or how they love.
This is a nation of many races, faiths and customs, beginning now to be reflected in Parliament.
All of this progress has occurred during your reign. You have become, to many of us, a kaleidoscope Queen of a kaleidoscope country in a kaleidoscope Commonwealth.
The kaleidoscope reference baffled many Brits. “Did he mean she should be shaken?” asked The Daily Mail. “Or toyed with?”
British gays recognized it as a shout-out to global LGBTI rights group The Kaleidoscope Trust, of which Bercow is the president — and indeed, whose website today proudly touts Bercow’s “Kaleidoscope Queen” speech.
“We congratulate the Speaker on his words,” said Lance Price, the Trust’s executive director, “and on behalf of the millions of LGBT people throughout the Commonwealth, whether free to express their sexuality without danger or not, we offer our own tribute to the kaleidoscope Queen.”
Meanwhile, Bercow’s Conservative Party colleagues were none too pleased by his oration. One Tory pegged it “completely inappropriate for Bercow to be lecturing the Queen on gay rights at any time, let alone when we are celebrating her Diamond Jubilee.”
Photo via Office of John Bercow