Thomas Roberts has written a thoughtful, inspiring piece about why he, as an openly gay American journalist, has chosen to take an assignment in Russia, despite the pogrom that nation has begun against her gay citizens:
I’m proud of our nation, which still aspires to live up to the promise of its founding fathers. 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.
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.
All kids—Russian, American or otherwise—need hope. I am a happy, healthy, gainfully employed, educated and married man. And yes, I am gay. These new Russian laws won’t stop Russians from being born LGBT and growing up to identify as such. Russia’s treatment of its LGBT citizens is unacceptable, unrealistic and only promotes homophobia and intolerance for a community that does and will continue to exist.
One of the common themes we who are in this line of work are constantly running up against is this idea — whether it’s being promulgated by the American Religious right or by the Russian government — that if laws are passed to criminalize homosexuality, to take kids away from their gay parents, that somehow they will be able to “eliminate the scourge of homosexuality.” It’s an insane belief, but because they refuse to accept scientific reality about sexuality, it’s easy to see why they believe it.
But Thomas is right. No matter what laws the Russians pass, there will be LGBT Russian people. They will be born that way. The “scourge” isn’t going away, and there’s nothing they can do about it.
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.
Absolutely. Kudos to Thomas for taking this assignment so boldly and thoughtfully.