Westminster’s first openly gay Lord Mayor has handed on the chains and robes of the ceremonial office, but gained a new responsibility as the council’s LGBT lead.
Councillor Ian Adams has been appointed to the role after a year as Lord Mayor, having passed the chains to fellow Conservative councillor Lindsey Hall last Wednesday night.
Adams and his partner, Italian architect Christopher Colisimo, were one of the first couples to convert their civil partnership when same-sex marriage became legal.
Throughout his tenure as Lord Mayor, Christopher accompanied Cllr Adams as consort on numerous official engagements.
Speaking last week, Cllr Adams recalled a British social attitude survey in the mid-80s recording that around 80 per cent of the population as believing same-sex relationships were mostly or always wrong.
Now that's flipped - a similar proportion now supports same-sex relationships and, today, Cllr Adams is out and proud in the corridors of power, welcomed, with his husband, into some of Britain’s traditionally most staid institutions.
Last year he was the first Lord Mayor to lead London Pride, wearing the traditional, old-world regalia amid a sea of rainbow flags.
“There’s me leading the Pride of London last year in my mayoral gown and chain - not wearing a huge amount of clothes underneath because it was a terribly hot July day,” Cllr Adams recalled. “That’s a great juxtaposition in its own right.”
However, a homophobia controversy tainted Cllr Adams’ own party’s local election campaign just weeks ago.
Conservative candidate Hillary Su had been roundly condemned for a tweet in which she was accused of implying that a gay lifestyle was “immoral”.
Following the publicity, she lost the party a seat.
Asked about the incident, Cllr Adams said he and his former colleague had crossed paths at an event in Chinatown recently.
He said: “I think in all truth, based on the conversation she and I had a few weeks ago, she has been on a personal journey over the last several months since that tweet in May 2017.
“So people do change, and I think that’s the key point that I would make; the fact that you’re seeing people like myself alongside Christopher in a whole range of settings sends a really positive signal out to people.”
He acknowledged the “soft power” of championing same-sex relationships as a weapon against discriminaton.
Cllr Adams said his private secretary told him his office was receiving constant feedback from people pleased to see him carrying out public duties with his husband by his side.
As Lord Mayor, he raised over £100,000 for his chosen charities - Age UK Westminster’s befriending services for the elderly, and for the Social Mobility Foundation which helps teens from disadvantaged backgrounds into university.
He also worked with Opening Doors London, which provides LGBT-friendly befriending services.
The couple’s visibility was important, he says, noting that they had been welcomed everywhere they went.
“It’s particularly important having Christopher alongside me, as my husband in all sorts of settings,” he said.
Cllr Adams has been elected to an executive role in the council’s cabinet, taking on public protection and licensing in a world tourism, theatre and nightlife hotspot – which he pointed out is also home for many.
He said: “We have to maintain the balance of looking after the needs of people who live there alongside those who work and visit.”