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Gay MSNBC Anchor Thomas Roberts to Host 'Miss Universe' in Moscow: 'Let People See I am No Different...'

MSNBC anchor Thomas Roberts is going to host the Miss Universe pageant in Moscow in November, and explains why he "aggressively went after" the job when it came up, in an op-ed on the MSNBC website: "because it is a huge, visible opportunity for LGBT people.  Everywhere."

Writes Roberts, in part: Roberts

Over the last several months Russian President Vladimir Putin has approved new homophobic laws for his country. Yes, laws that criminalize and stigmatize lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people and their allies in Russia.

These actions attracted worldwide news coverage with some critics labeling it: Russia’s dark chapter in the history of gay rights. World leaders have expressed their contempt for these discriminatory laws with President Barack Obama declaring that “nobody’s more offended than me.”

In August, the Miss Universe Organization issued its own statement that Russian laws are “diametrically opposed to the core values” of Miss Universe.

I too am diametrically opposed to these laws and share in the President’s outrage. I am unafraid to say I am proud of my husband and my family—I’m proud of their love for me. I’m proud of the incredible steps forward equality has taken this year.

I’m proud of our nation, which still aspires to live up to the promise of its founding fathers. I am unafraid to tell you how traditional my husband and I are. After thirteen years, we continue to foster and grow our life together, with highs and lows, the folly and the fights. The same things many long term couples experience. Simple things: Trash night, dog walks, the remote control. Tough things: Homophobia, job loss, death.

You can’t get more traditional than that and, above all, we love each other.

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.

Read Roberts' entire post HERE.


As Towleroad reported in August, Bravo executive and Watch What Happens Live! host Andy Cohen turned down the hosting gig because '[Russia's] discriminatory policies make it unsafe for the gays who live there and gays coming to work or visit...The law is that anyone under suspicion of homosexuality can be arrested'...adding that he 'didn't feel right as a gay man stepping foot into Russia.'"

It's unclear what kind of statement Roberts will make at the pageant to assert the statements he has made in his op-ed, though as a news anchor on MSNBC he has been an outspoken advocate for LGBT rights.

Elton John recently announced he would play two concerts in Russia  because, "As a gay man, I can't leave those people on their own without going over there and supporting them. I don't know what's going to happen, but I've got to go."

He later said that he would not speak out against the government from the stage but preferred to meet with Russian leaders.

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  1. It's just for the money. Russian audience of Miss Universe will never know he's gay and he will have some money for the old days when it will not be anymore a news-hunk.

    Posted by: lukebrux | Oct 17, 2013 4:01:38 PM

  2. He also works for NBC (proud as a peacock to be the home of the 2014 $ochi Olympic$), had bad luck with his last job, and doesn't want to rock the boat. NBC needs a gay, the gay needs a gig. Watch for Johnny Weir to sign on as Olympics color commentary in 5, 4, 3, 2,...

    Posted by: Ken | Oct 17, 2013 4:10:15 PM

  3. Yeah, unless he's going to begin "Welcome to the Miss Universe pageant, I'm gay" I fail to see how most Russians are gonna even hear that he's gay, considering that there's pretty much a ban on acknowledging anything positive as gay-- so who exactly in Russia is going to be running around saying "Thomas Roberts is gay, gee, what an inspiration!" without getting beat up or thrown in jail? And what's some poor Russian gay kid gonna think other than "Gosh, I wish I was a rich American?" since he'd pretty much forfeit his job, his safety, and maybe even his life if he started to emulate Roberts in the kid's own country?

    The boycott is a means of cutting off money-making opportunities for Russia-- the only language the thugs currently running things understand. You want the possibility of change? DON"T HAVE a freakin' Miss Universe pageant in Russia. The Russian government doesn't care that you're "no different than anybody else." Like a lot of other backwards nations, they're scapegoating gays to try and distract people from rising up against insane levels of corruption. The only way they change is if they start worrying they're gonna lose serious money because of it. Period.

    Posted by: bobbyjoe | Oct 17, 2013 4:17:58 PM

  4. Good for him. I hope he brings his husband.

    So proud of my fellow chc alum!

    Posted by: rick heid | Oct 17, 2013 4:18:55 PM

  5. @Bobby, agreed! He wont and cant say he is gay, so how is he going to show anyone how normal he is?

    Posted by: Fenrox | Oct 17, 2013 4:24:05 PM

  6. I gather the censors will be ready with their fingers on the "delete" button.

    Posted by: kennetho9322 | Oct 17, 2013 4:25:01 PM

  7. I totally LOVE this man. He'll do what he can, and I expect him to be surprising.

    Posted by: James in Toronto | Oct 17, 2013 4:29:40 PM

  8. Some people actually still watch MU? I didn't know there still chose MU.

    Posted by: Matt27 | Oct 17, 2013 4:32:48 PM

  9. Face palm: He going to host a sexist, misogynist event to promote gay equality.

    Posted by: Joesph Foster | Oct 17, 2013 4:35:14 PM

  10. I am pleased that Miss Universe invites one gay after another gay to host the pageant. They think any orientations, gay or straight, can do the job. Russians however, if they have their ways, they would not want any gays to be near the event. Should gays boycott? That is what they want. They don’t to be around gays. They want gays to stay home. So come to the event and say, “I am gay, I am here to live my life“

    Posted by: Andy Towlette | Oct 17, 2013 4:35:56 PM

  11. Thomas Roberts is a disgusting pig. Where are his values? The money must have been too good for this jerk.

    Posted by: Brian | Oct 17, 2013 4:53:47 PM

  12. SCUM BAG!!!!!!!!!!

    Posted by: patrick | Oct 17, 2013 4:56:24 PM

  13. It's pretty clear that Russian psyops agents are posting here, you can almost hear the accent.

    Posted by: Joesph Foster | Oct 17, 2013 4:58:27 PM

  14. I like this guy, but why discredit his position as a news "commentator" host with this cheesy Trump gig?

    Posted by: Jim | Oct 17, 2013 5:10:42 PM

  15. this might work, especially as an in your face to the russian apparatchiks. the only way NBC could make the party any gayer would be to have rachel maddow host it in a tuxedo.

    just how cut off from the world do you think middle class russians are, those of you that say no one will know? and if the internet and gay websites weren't enough, the russian orthodox church will go apeshit. the russian glbt community will have no doubts about why he is there. think twice before you shoot your mouth off with kneejerk condemnation.

    Posted by: bandanajack | Oct 17, 2013 5:15:12 PM

  16. "an anchor and a man who happens to be gay"

    Big deal. What will you SAY?

    Posted by: Randy | Oct 17, 2013 5:16:48 PM

  17. This one knocked the wind out of me. A gay man hosting that sexist, misogynistic, degrading nightmare in a country that just outlawed and criminalized his very existence. This is a bad joke, right?

    Posted by: Mastik8 | Oct 17, 2013 5:19:10 PM

  18. BobbyJoe states the case against Roberts beautifully. Only thing I'd add is that let us not forget this is a Trump production, which makes Roberts' decision even more appalling and careerist. BandanaJack, you're the one being naive here. Middle-class Russians are clueless about this. They think Pussy Riot is a band of witches, seriously.

    Posted by: James | Oct 17, 2013 5:43:27 PM

  19. Not great, Thomas, but I'll still f*ck ya, you big lug.

    Posted by: JWL | Oct 17, 2013 5:44:33 PM

  20. Look, people, I am actually a native Russian-speaker, who lives in the US, but keep in contact with people there as well as follow their news media. The approach of the Western LGBTs should be two-pronged: 1. make sure we are visible and we keep news up (so, when Andy declined to do it - it was great! it was all over Russian news. when Roberts said yes, I'm sure it will be in the news too, at least on the internet, accessible to higher and middle class - great again!) 2. we should go after the ability of Russian higher classes (oligarchs, politicians, etc.) to travel to the US and the West, buy and own property here. Every year there's a scandal in Russia, when yet another Russian anti-US/Europe/gay politician there is found to own undeclared property in the US. (They prefer Florida.)

    Posted by: Victor | Oct 17, 2013 5:47:48 PM

  21. Plus, the reality is that it's not only Russia that is participating in this - admittedly - misogynist piece of business. It's all the continents.

    Posted by: Victor | Oct 17, 2013 5:49:19 PM

  22. Thomas Roberts = media whore and sell-out.

    Also, why isn't Andy Towle criticizing him?

    Posted by: Brian | Oct 17, 2013 6:06:34 PM

  23. He talks like the whole world knows who he is. He's a blatant opportunist. He's doing it for the money. And Towleroad rips anything to do with Russia.. Have you SOLD OUT too? I hope the Russians throw him in prison. That would be a story.

    Posted by: Gee | Oct 17, 2013 6:19:08 PM

  24. Hey, what he SAYS sounds good, but it depends on what he DOES.

    It's long been known that visibility of gay people, "knowing" us, is the biggest factor behind a change of attitudes. But just being there, assuming that everyone knows your back-story, isn't enough. He has to speak out or he's just picking up a paycheck.

    We'll see.

    Posted by: Caliban | Oct 17, 2013 6:27:50 PM

  25. He's a spineless kiss as-. Does anyone have Putin's e-mail? Edward Snowden's would do. A gay guy hosting a straight beauty pageant?
    It must have been a pretty big check. This voids the Olympic boycott. Andy?? Oh, I'm sure you're friends. Forgive me...are you getting a cut?

    Posted by: VLAD | Oct 17, 2013 6:38:42 PM

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