Openly gay Thomas Roberts, an anchor for MSNBC, announced on October 17 that he will co-host the 2014 Miss Universe pageant in Russia despite the country’s anti-LGBT laws.
“Courage is contagious,” Roberts wrote on MSNBC. “I have felt that way since coming out publicly in 2006. I’ve never regretted it.”
He will be co-hosting the event with Singer Mel B of the Spice Girls and saw the gig as “a huge, visible opportunity for LGBT people.”
“I am not a special case. I am a good person, good spouse, good child, good sibling, good friend and hard worker. That is me,” he wrote. “I am just like millions of LGBT people around the world. We are good, regular, hard-working people who come from solid families. So when I heard there was a chance at this assignment I aggressively went after it. Lo and behold the Miss Universe team, NBC Entertainment and the Trump team agreed and offered it to me.”
Several LGBT advocates question Roberts’ decision to host the pageant.
“If Thomas Roberts thinks he can give gay Russians ‘hope,’ then I’d implore him to do far more while he’s there than simply host the Miss Universe pageant and assume that everyone knows he’s gay and married to a man,” AMERICAblog writer John Aravosis wrote on the website. “The benefits of such a trip are still unclear, the risks however are not.”
Roberts further defended himself in an interview with the Morning Joe Friday morning.
“I’m openly gay; I’m happily married and I don’t think anybody’s going to tell me that I’m less than,” Roberts said. “And so for that very reason that’s why I wanted to go and accept this assignment. I think it’s a wonderful assignment because this is going to be seen by a billion people in over 190 countries and if they happen to find out that I’m gay and married and my husband Patrick’s going to be there with me, fantastic.”
Andy Cohen was originally going to host the pageant but turned it down.
“Their discriminatory policies make it unsafe for the gays who live there”¨and gays coming to work or visit,” Cohen said in an interview with E! News.
“The law is that anyone under suspicion of homosexuality can be arrested. I didn’t feel right as a gay man stepping foot into Russia.”
Russia implemented several anti-LGBT laws in June including the ban on Pride parades, restricting foreign LGBT couples from adopting Russian children, and banning “homosexual propaganda.” The laws were enforced to protect the youth and instill Catholic Orthodox values.
The Miss Universe Organization condemned Russia’s anti-LGBT laws in August.
“The Miss Universe Organization believes in equality for all individuals and is deeply concerned by the laws recently enacted in Russia and currently in place in several other countries,” the organization stated. “Both the law, as well as the violence experienced by the LGBT community in Russia, are diametrically opposed to the core values of our company. Our organization has always embodied a spirit of inclusion and is a celebration of people from all countries and walks of life.”
In 2012 Roberts married his partner, Patrick Abner, in New York.