Thomas Roberts, an openly gay married man, will be hosting this year's Miss Universe Pageant in Moscow. This comes at a time when the Russian government has passed or is considering some stringent anti-LGBT laws. Roberts spoke with The Advocate about why he decided to accept this assignment.
You mentioned that you reached out and did your homework before accepting this assignment. What was the response of Russian LGBT activists that you reached out to?
I was told, don't boycott. I was told that this is too big of an opportunity and that voices like theirs need representation. So what they want is, while they don't feel safe, they want influential people to come in and speak out. Not only can I speak out ahead of time, before going, but I also have a great capacity to cover and storytell. So, that's why this assignment was so attractive to me.
In doing that research, did you consult with any other LGBT anchors, like Rachel Maddow, at MSNBC, about this decision?
No, I didn't. I consulted with the [Human Rights Campaign] and with GLAAD. I wanted to find out their take on what they thought about this decision by me. They are two organizations that I have done a great deal of work with and that have not only had my personal support but professional support. So a lot of counsel, a lot of advice, went into this. Certainly great LGBT activists, who are mentors of mine — I reached out to them as well.