Openly gay MSNBC anchor Thomas Roberts is expressing dismay at the negative reaction he is getting for agreeing to co-host the Miss Universe pageant in Moscow next month.
Some believe that by participating, Roberts may be inadvertently be providing Russian president Vladimir Putin's anti-LGBT agenda with a supportive platform.
But Roberts sees an opportunity to also do reporting for MSNBC as well as for NBC which is broadcasting the 9 November pageant in the US.
He tells Advocate.com: 'I continue to have great drive about the purpose of why I'm going there, and why somebody like me can do a lot more than just host, cohost, Miss Universe. So I'm aligned with a cable network, a television network, and if people don't think that I'm going to do reporting from there, they're crazy.'
Russia, which is also hosting the 2014 Winter Olympics, has come under international scrutiny for its homophobic laws - particularly an anti-gay propaganda law which makes it illegal for anyone to show public support for homosexuality.
Says Roberts: 'While the homophobic laws are a major concern, there are unfortunately LGBT discriminatory laws that exist in other countries beyond Russia, and I thought this was a huge visible opportunity not only for ... our own country, for Russia as well, but for the 188 countries where this is going to be seen. So I thought this was a fantastic opportunity for people to learn about me being openly gay and marriage and my husband being with me, and send a strong message.'
Roberts came out publicly in 2006 while working for CNN and was married to husband Patrick Abner last year in New York City. He has regularly tackled LGBT topics during his weekday MSNBC show and feels he deserves more of the benefit of the doubt than he has been getting in recent days.
'I am a little dismayed at some of the reaction that people have had, that have wanted to try to attack my personal and professional belief for what I'm standing up for, but I respect their right to do that,' he says. 'But I wish they would have a little more faith in me.'
Roberts, 41, also addressed former co-host Andy Cohen, also gay, who announced he would not host for a third year because he did not feel safe in a country with such laws.
'He decided to boycott before he had the offer,' Roberts says. 'So, for me, this was something I thought was too great of an opportunity to miss out on. And I think Andy's great. I think he's done a great job before. But I appreciate that I know I can bring something else to this and be able to push the envelope a little bit further with being able to report for our networks.'