NEW YORK — Thomas Roberts, an openly gay journalist and news anchor for MSNBC, announced Thursday he plans to host the upcoming Miss Universe pageant in Moscow, calling it a “huge, visible opportunity for LGBT people. Everywhere.”
Roberts said he “aggressively” pursued the hosting job after Bravo’s Andy Cohen declined to host the pageant, stating Russia’s “discriminatory policies make it unsafe for the gays who live there and gays coming to work or visit.”
Cohen, who is also gay, hosted the pageant the previous two years.
At issue is Russia’s anti-gay “propaganda” law, which prohibits distribution of any information with the “intention” of persuading minors that nontraditional sexual relationships are “attractive” or “interesting,” or even “socially equivalent to traditional relationships.”
Roberts said that while the laws criminalize and stigmatize LGBT people and their allies in Russia, “boycotting and vilifying” Russia from afar “is too easy.”
So people may wonder: “Thomas, how can you accept this assignment? Shouldn’t you boycott Russia?” I am not going to boycott. Boycotting and vilifying from the outside is too easy. Rather, I choose to offer my support of the LGBT community in Russia by going to Moscow and hosting this event as a journalist, an anchor and a man who happens to be gay. Let people see I am no different than anyone else.
All kids — Russian, American or otherwise — need hope. I am a happy, healthy, gainfully employed, educated and married man. And yes, I am gay. These new Russian laws won’t stop Russians from being born LGBT and growing up to identify as such. Russia’s treatment of its LGBT citizens is unacceptable, unrealistic and only promotes homophobia and intolerance for a community that does and will continue to exist.
Roberts, who came out publicly in 2006 and says he’s “never regretted it,” adds that kids and people everywhere need LGBT role models.
“We do them no favors by turning away now. We must be visible, we must show up, and, as Harvey Milk said, we must ‘give them hope,'” he wrote. “I go to prove there’s hope.”