Thomas Roberts and Mel B will host the 2013 Miss Universe beauty pageant, NBC announced today. Both hosts hail from the Peacock family, as Roberts hosts "MSNBC Live" and Mel B serves as judge on NBC's "America's Got Talent."
This year's Miss Universe pageant will be held in Crocus City Hall in Moscow, and the location for the 2013 iteration of the venerable pageant franchise sparked controversy, as Russia had recently unveiled a slate of laws that banned "propaganda of nontraditional sexual relations around minors" and discouraged the public discussion of homosexuality.
Andy Cohen announced in August that he would not return to host the pageant due to these laws, noting that, as a gay man, he "didn't feel right stepping foot in Russia." He had previously hosted Miss Universe's 2011 and 2012 pageants.
Roberts, who is openly gay, took to MSNBC's website to pen a blog post about his decision to host the pageant in spite of Russia's anti-gay laws. In it, he writes:
"This November, I will co-host Miss Universe in Moscow partly because it is a huge, visible opportunity for LGBT people. Everywhere...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."
He continues, "I too am diametrically opposed to these laws and share in the president's outrage. I am unafraid to say I am proud of my husband and my family--I'm proud of their love for me. I'm proud of the incredible steps forward equality has taken this year...So people may wonder: "Thomas, how can you accept this assignment? Shouldn't you boycott Russia?" I am not going to boycott. 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."
The 62nd annual Miss Universe Pageant will be broadcast on Nov. 9 on NBC, with a Spanish simulcast on Telemundo.