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04/19/2007


Johnny Weir Retiring from Skating, Working as Analyst for NBC at Sochi Olympics: VIDEO

Weir

Out gay figure skater Johnny Weir announced on the Today show this morning that he's retiring from the sport and taking a job for NBC as an Olympic correspondent at the Sochi Games.

Said Weir about going to anti-gay Russia: “While this law is a terrible thing that you can’t be gay publicly in Russia, I plan to be there in full support of our brothers and sisters there and not be afraid. If I get arrested, I get arrested. If not, not, great, but our presence is needed. For all the Olympians that worked so hard, a boycott is the worst thing you can do to these young people.”

Watch, AFTER THE JUMP...

Weir  has described himself as a "true patriot and spokesman for their country" in past interviews and in September wore a Russian military outfit to an interview with Keith Olbermann in which he argued against Russian boycotts.

NbcsochiNBC has been facing heat since July over the anti-gay laws in Russia and the upcoming Olympics broadcast. They have said that they will wait to address the issue until the Games arrive.

"We'll address it at the time because it's still unfolding," said Lazarus, adding that the IOC has taken up the issue with the Russian government.  "The IOC has addressed it with the Russian government and has assured athletes, fans and media that there won't be any issues," he added. "Governments across the world have different laws. I don't know now it's going to [affect] us. If it is still their law and it is impacting any part of the Olympic Games we will make sure we are acknowledging it and recognizing it."

NBC also assured its gay employees of their safety in Sochi in a memo sent out in August.

MSNBC anchor Thomas Roberts was blasted with criticism last week for accepting a job in Russia as host of the Miss Universe pageant, a job that Bravo exec and host Andy Cohen turned down because of the country's anti-gay laws.

Roberts continues to be lambasted. Wrote Andrew Miller in the Huffington Post:

Thomas Roberts has become the next in a forming line of self-involved celebrities traveling to Russia to show Vladimir Putin how out and proud they are, or how supportive they are of their out-and-proud friends and relatives. Elton John, who will be concertizing in Moscow in December "to support Russian gays," is at the head of that queue. (Figure skater Johnny Weir, who was ready to get arrested at the Olympics in August, got, uh, cold feet in September and is staying home.)

Miller wrote his piece before Weir's announcement today.

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.

The real and unknown question remains — will any of these openly gay figures step up and make a difference (either with a major political statement or one that has a financial impact on LGBT members of society oppressed by the Putin regime) while they are in Russia, because it is really the only way any of them can justify making the trip.

Watch Weir's announcement, AFTER THE JUMP...

Continue reading "Johnny Weir Retiring from Skating, Working as Analyst for NBC at Sochi Olympics: VIDEO" »


Thomas Roberts Says He Understands 'Tremendous Hypocrisy' of His Trip to Moscow: VIDEO

T_roberts

Thomas Roberts appeared on Morning Joe this morning to elaborate on a statement he made yesterday on MSNBC explaining why he is going to Moscow to host the Miss Universe pageant despite calls for a boycott of the country over Russia's anti-gay laws.

Says Roberts:

"Patrick (his husband) and I have discussed this. We understand that we go on a different privilege than a lot of other people are that live in Russia right now. We live here in the s ates under a different set of privileges. Right now marriage equality is still a big battle. ENDA continues to be a battle in Washington DC. We understand what the home turf is like. I want to go and educate myself on what Russia's turf is like. I want to be able to carve out how I can cover and do stories for our network that way and show first hand what it's like to be there. But I know that I'm going to be treated completely differently. So there is a bit of hypocrisy that goes along with that - a tremendous amount of hypocrisy that goes along with that - so I hope to shine a bright light on that."

No doubt many will be watching to see what form that light takes.

Roberts also responds to some of the reactions he has received. Roberts also tweeted that he'll address it on his show this morning and Donald Trump, who sponsors the pageant, will appear, along with his co-host Melanie Brown.

Watch, AFTER THE JUMP...

Continue reading "Thomas Roberts Says He Understands 'Tremendous Hypocrisy' of His Trip to Moscow: VIDEO" »


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.

ADDENDUM:

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.


MSNBC's Thomas Roberts Grills RNC Chair Reince Priebus About Shutdown, Obamacare: VIDEO

Priebus

Thomas Roberts got into it today with RNC Chair Reince Priebus over the shutdown and House GOP demands on Obamacare.

“Have you been watching the news?” he said, referencing glitches consumers have experienced in trying to access online exchanges. “At the very least, at this very moment, Obamacare’s not ready for prime time.”

When asked by host Thomas Roberts to explain House Republicans’ unwillingness to pass a clean continuing resolution bill without ties to delays in Obamacare, Priebus blamed the president for refusing to negotiate, before turning the crosshairs on his interviewer.

“It sounds like I’m debating the chair of the DNC,” Priebus said to Roberts. Priebus also advised Roberts to watch Schoolhouse Rock for lessons on how a bill becomes law.

“So we have to capitulate to whatever the president wants?” asked Priebus.

“No, you have to govern,” said Roberts.

Asks Roberts, later: "Is this really what the Tea Party conservatives have wanted all along is to demonstrate the power that they have on being able to 'choke out' the American people?"

Watch, AFTER THE JUMP...

Continue reading "MSNBC's Thomas Roberts Grills RNC Chair Reince Priebus About Shutdown, Obamacare: VIDEO" »


RNC Leaders Congratulated Thomas Roberts On His Marriage: VIDEO

Thom

Out MSNBC anchor Thomas Roberts joined Joe Scarborough oh his "Morning Joe" talk-show today. Amidst discussion of the Republican National Committee's continued opposition to same-sex marriage in the party platform, Roberts discussed his own personal experience with the Republican leadership that seemed to him at odds with their publicly stated political beliefs:

"Reince Priebus, when I got engaged, congratulated me at the White House Correspondents' weekend. Last year, Sean Spicer congratulated me on getting married to my husband. Yet they incorporate into the platform of the RNC their stance against marriage equality," Roberts said.

"It's odd, because why congratulate me? I didn't bring it up, I didn't say give me a congratulations, but they offered it," Roberts said. "So it's odd, because then they'll go out and drumbeat that they're against marriage equality. It's weird."

In an email to Politico RNC Communications Director Sean Spicer clarified his position:

"Believing marriage is between one man and one woman and being polite, courteous and respectful are not mutually exclusive."

Watch the video AFTER THE JUMP...

Continue reading "RNC Leaders Congratulated Thomas Roberts On His Marriage: VIDEO" »


Thomas Roberts Interviews PA Mayor John Fetterman, Who Married Gay Couple This Week: VIDEO

Fetterman

MSNBC's Thomas Roberts spoke with Braddock, Pennsylvania Mayor John Fetterman, who this week defied the state's ban on same-sex marriage and married his constituents John Kandray and Bill Gray:

“It’s an act of civil disobedience,” said Fetterman on MSNBC Thursday. The message to Republican Gov. Tom Corbett, he said, referencing President Reagan’s iconic challenge to Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev, is:  “Mr. Corbett, tear down this law.”

...

“The legality of it really doesn’t concern me,” said Fetterman, in reference to the fact that neither the state, nor the federal government currently recognizes the marriage he performed on Monday. “I think it’s the message that it sends. And I think Pennsylvania is at a place now where we need to remove this from our constitution.”

Watch, AFTER THE JUMP...

Continue reading "Thomas Roberts Interviews PA Mayor John Fetterman, Who Married Gay Couple This Week: VIDEO" »


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