Now that all the talk about the Winter Olympics being held in homophobic Russia has died down, conversation about the Miss Universe pageant is starting to heat up.
This year’s Miss Universe will be chosen in Moscow with hosts former Spice Girl and current America’s Got Talent judge, Mel B, and openly gay news anchor for MSNBC Live, Thomas Roberts. The pageant takes place on Nov. 9 and will air on NBC.
Normally we don’t think that a journalist’s sexual orientation matters but in this case Roberts’ orientation is a key part of his hosting the pageant.
Anti-gay legislation that prohibits the distribution of “gay propaganda” took effect in Russia in June. The law makes it illegal to equate gay and straight relationships while it also bans the distribution of materials about gay rights to minors. The law imposes fines on individuals or media groups who disobey it, with special fines for foreigners. Roberts falls into two of those categories, leaving us to wonder just what atrocity Russia could inflict if it decided to do so.
While many people support a boycott of the 2014 Winter Olympics as well as the Miss Universe pageant, Roberts said the exact opposite in an open letter on MSNBC.com. The news anchor, who came out in 2006 at a national journalism convention, sees hosting the pageant as an opportunity for the LGBT community in a global sense and is in line with the Miss Universe Organization who have said that “Russian laws are ‘diametrically opposed to the core values’ of Miss Universe.”
In his letter titled “Why I’m going to Russia despite anti-gay laws,” Roberts said, “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.”
Pageant owner Donald Trump issued an invitation to Russian President Vladimir Putin, telling NBC that, “We have invited Vladimir Putin and I know for a fact that he wants very much to come,” according to The Nation.
To check availability of watching Miss Universe on Nov. 9 in your area via FilmOn, click here.
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