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:

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.


  1. lukebrux says

    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.

  2. Ken says

    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,…

  3. bobbyjoe says

    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.

  4. says

    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“

  5. bandanajack says

    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.

  6. Mastik8 says

    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?

  7. James says

    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.

  8. Victor says

    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.)

  9. Victor says

    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.

  10. Gee says

    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.

  11. says

    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.

  12. VLAD says

    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?

  13. SoulToDevil says

    Being a narcissistic asshol- must be contagious too. I think you caught it from your reflection. Why not tell us how much money you are making? That would be good faith. Show us your benevolence, oh savior.

  14. Kyle Michel Sullivan says

    Unlike many of the bitter queens bitching on this thread, I’m withholding judgement until I see what Roberts does. If he keeps it on the down low, then I’ll go after him about hypocrisy. But if he does something to shine a light on the homophobia in that disgraceful country, then he’s the man. Until then, all else is just guesswork and back-biting.

  15. Victor says

    Dear Vlad,

    And who is so far boycotting the Olympics? Has anyone who is leading in any sport said they won’t go? Has any sponsor pulled the funding back? Cher said she won’t sing there – I am grateful to her. But someone else will (and as far as it is in our financial power, the singer should lose their pro-equality/pro-freedom-of-speech fans and fans’ money).

    I think we need to make sure that our boycotts have actual achievable goals, not just lofty hopes.

  16. Randal Oulton says

    It’s the same debate the Commonwealth went through with South Africa: boycott or engage and instruct. In the end, I’m not sure we (the Commonwealth) still have figured out what was the right answer.

  17. GB says

    Bitter Russians are a bit worse. Of course cautious queens withhold judgement. What do you think he will do? It’s not a forum for him to speak. He won’t say a word about anything gay. It’s just a glam job for him. We know that gay married males are the best judges of female beauty. You sound like an old lady MIss Sully. Our boycotts will be useless. But we do cut slack for Mr. Roberts career — and his amazing gift to act NORMAL.

  18. gr8guyca says

    I’d like to step back and say that I don’t care if he is gay or straight, the idea of a news anchor hosting an entertainment show is a bad idea. If he wants to be taken seriously as a newsman, then he should not be performing as a entertainer/celebrity.

    At one point in his career, Anderson Cooper hosted a TV show called, “The Mole.” I thought this was beneath him. And Cooper certainly doesn’t need the money. (See also, Vanderbilt.) I also thought his talk show did the same thing.

    If someone wants to be respected as a news person, then they should maintain the respect of their viewers. Would Edward R. Murrow or Walter Cronkite host the Miss Universe Pageant? Nope.

  19. Richard says

    Thomas Roberts is an outstanding advocate and role model, and the insults being hurled at him are undeserved. I trust that his intentions are good, but I wonder what he could possibly say during a scripted show to inform the world audience that he’s a gay man who supports the Russian LGBT community.

  20. BG says

    He’s an egomaniac queen from Baltimore. News anchors that I’ve known are very insecure. I’ve met Walter Cronkite but he was not in that category. Roberts strikes me like David Bromstad syndrome.

  21. Icebloo says

    Yet other self absorbed airhead who is full of his own self importance. He doesn’t have the balls to speak out on stage and he actually believes Russian officials will meet with him to discuss the issue ? Is this guy on crack ?

    I can only presume living such an easy and privileged lifestyle has damage his brain and allowed him to become detached from reality.

    The only way to hit back at Russia is a TOTAL BOYCOTT of all contact with them. They don’t care if a gay presenter to an event. They don’t care if gay supporting athletes come to the Olympics but they DO care if NO ONE comes to the Olympics – then it’s a major embarrassment.

    This loser should be ashamed. He is using the horrific treatment of Russian gays to increase his own public profile and to make more money – even though he probably earns a few million per year anyway. Thomas Roberts is as evil and selfish as Putin.

  22. UFFDA says

    Mr. Roberts is a high placed, handsome, “normal”, happily married gay man – count on it: only the under-achiever, ugly and unwanted fruitcake fairies are complaining. Go to hell, the lot of you.

  23. UFFDA says

    Mr. Roberts is a high placed, handsome, “normal”, happily married gay man – count on it: only the under-achiever, ugly and unwanted fruitcake fairies are complaining. Go to hell, the lot of you.

  24. Perry says

    What a self-absorbed jakass. Unless he declares his sexuality on screen, i highly doubt the vast majority of viewers will know who the hell he is. He is clearly doing it for the money and his press release is justify his decision (he doesn’t need to justify his decision to anyone but himself)

  25. MIke says

    LOL at the worry over his “newsman” career. He’s basically exiled to Siberian hours on MSNBC. With the famous “it’s not me” but you know it’s him Manhunt ass, balls, and cock pics it’s not like he’s going to be seated next to Brian Williams in the future.

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