Although he couldn’t make London Pride due to a hospice fundraiser in his constituency, he is keen to attend another Pride event this summer and suddenly tells his researcher to check his diary and Google the date of the Manchester festival.
Unlike some, he thinks Pride remains important. “I know some people say it’s outdated. I don’t think so.” Later, he says: “It is a demonstration by doing it – that there are still people out there who don’t see that it’s right. And my message to them is [that] it is necessary to come out and it is necessary to go on demonstrations because people like that think that it is not necessary.”
Times for gay people have changed hugely since his youth. He says he’s heard some “horrific speeches” in the House of Commons in his years – from both sides – but says there’s now “zero tolerance” on homophobia from all parties, especially when it comes to cracking down on errant local councillors.
It’s sad that it took him this long to come out but he doesn’t seem to dwell on it, at least not in this interview.
“I am incredibly happy about being gay,” he says, smiling. “If I could press a button and make myself not gay, I would not do it.”