Speaking on the red carpet before hosting the Miss Universe pageant in Moscow, gay MSNBC host Thomas Roberts offered these words of support to Russia's LGBT population affected by the recent anti-"gay propaganda" laws:
“I know the law is very vague and still hard to interpret for many people. But it is discrimination and that’s definitive. And I don’t think that the LGBT population in Russia or anywhere should be marginalized to that degree. We are not asking for special protection. We’re just asking for equal respect."
For Roberts, creating a connection with the Russian people, in hopes of normalizing perceptions of LGBT people, is the most effective way of addressing popular support for homophobic legislation. His decision to host the Miss Universe was informed by speaking with Russian LGBT advocates, who advised him to report on the situation for LGBT people in Russia, which was largely underreported.
Roberts goal was "to offer…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."
Roberts quote from above was to state-owned Russian media. While it is unclear if his words will be heard by the Russian people or how they will be interpreted, establishing a dialogue is one important step in improving the position of LGBT people in Russia – which is what all pro-LGBT organizations and individuals support.