MSNBC Anchor Defends Miss Universe Hosting Gig in Anti-Gay Russia: 'I Go to Prove There's Hope'

1:55 PM PST 10/17/2013 by Seth Abramovitch
Thomas Roberts is seen here marrying husband Patrick Abner in 2012.

Thomas Roberts, who's openly gay, sees the international beauty pageant as a platform to bring hope to LGBT youth around the world.

Thomas Roberts has said yes to hosting the upcoming Miss Universe pageant, a controversial gig as it is being held in Russia this year amid the controversy over that country's recently passed anti-gay legislation.

The openly gay MSNBC anchor, who came out in 2006 and is married, has penned an open letter explaining his thinking behind taking the job, which he campaigned for.

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Roberts calls the international beauty pageant "a huge visible opportunity" to offer positive LGBT messages to the youth of the world. 

"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,'" Roberts writes. "I go to prove there's hope."

Bravo's Andy Cohen, who co-hosted last year's contest alongside E!'s Giuliana Rancic, said last August that he was boycotting the telecast, citing both the discriminatory nature of the laws and concern for his own safety: One of the laws allows for the jailing of tourists perceived to be gay or sympathetic to LGBT causes.

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The 62nd Miss Universe pageant will be held Nov. 9 at the Crocus City Hall in Moscow, the first time Russia is hosting the event. Produced by the Donald Trump-owned Miss Universe Organization, the contest will air on NBC and Telemundo in the U.S.

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