Thomas Roberts will be the next host of Miss Universe, a joint Donald Trump-NBC venture. Roberts, an MSNBC anchor, says he campaigned “aggressively” for the opportunity after Andy Cohen, who had hosted the previous two years, announced he would not go to Russia because of Vladimir Putin‘s anti-gay laws.
“Courage is contagious,” Roberts proclaimed, in a post at MSNBC yesterday. “I have felt that way since coming out publicly in 2006. I’ve never regretted it.”
Roberts, who turned 41 this month and last year married his partner of 12 years, Patrick Abner, writes that he made the decision to go “partly because it is a huge, visible opportunity for LGBT people. Everywhere.”
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. 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 & the Trump team agreed and offered it to me.
He also says he wants to go because all children, “Russian, American or otherwise—need hope.”
We do them no favors by turning away now. We must be visible, we must show up, and, as Harvey Milk said, we must “give them hope.”
I go to prove there’s hope.
Roberts, who is a Roman Catholic, also explains that he and his husband are, when it comes to many things in life, like most Americans, “traditional.”
I am unafraid to tell you how traditional my husband and I are. After 13 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.
Acknowledging that there’s a “tremendous amount of hypocrisy” that goes with his work on equality and trip to Russia, Roberts explained his thinking this morning on MSNBC’s Morning Joe:
Veteran LGBT journalist Karen Ocamb notes that “Roberts is not going as a journalist covering the pageant, where, like Anderson Cooper, he can insert himself into the story. And he’s no flamboyant Elton John or Liberace where someone looking at near-naked women is going to look over and say, ‘Hey, he’s gay!’ No one’s going to know or suspect or care because Roberts easily passes as straight. And I doubt Trump is going to let him shout his not-so-secret love from the highest hills, get arrested and become a celebrity test case for the anti-gay ‘propaganda’ law.”
She cautions that “Roberts must do a lot of pre-pageant publicity to let those LGBT people know he’s coming. And maybe then Trump will loosen the contract strings and let him appear on Moscow TV and talk about being a good gay with a good job and a loving husband. He does appear to be a good guy, after all. But Miss Universe is still a money-making venture—not a platform for LGBT or human rights. He might find juggling Trump harder to deal with than his Russian minders.”
Blogger John Aravosis, who has been one of the leading journalists reporting on the anti-gay hate in Russia, put it bluntly.
It’s not enough just to show up.
Clarence Thomas shows up.
So does Alan Keyes.
And Allen West.
Yet, the Republican party has not become any more concerned about African-Americans. The GOP does, however, have a few more token faces to wave at Independent voters to convince Indies of how welcoming the Republican party is to minorities.
One would also be at pains to argue that the presence of Ann Coulter, or Phyllis Schlafly, in the Republican party has done anything to temper the GOP’s war on women. If anything, they’ve made it worse.
That’s not to argue that Thomas Roberts is the gay equivalent of Clarence Thomas or Ann Coulter, he most thankfully is not. But bigots love an exception to a rule, and are perfectly capable of loving you as an anomaly, while continuing to hate your brethren. It’s why people fawned over Liberace half a decade ago, clueless – or careless – that the gayest man on the planet was queerer than a three dollar bill.
Any gay person who travels to Russia in an official capacity risks becoming homophobia’s beard.
There are many LGBT people and supporters of the LGBT community who believe any association with Russia, anything Russian, and anything perceived to be Russian, is a traitorous. There are others, perhaps like Roberts, who believe change comes by working from within.
What do you think about Roberts hosting Miss Universe in Russia?
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