Thursday, April 08, 2010

The Soup Cans Interview: Thomas Roberts

Former CNN Headline News anchor Thomas Roberts is one of the most visible openly gay news anchors in the country. This week he spoke to me about the Catholic Church, being openly gay in the business and his newest gig with the Advocate. Read on:

You've been the host of "Advocate On-Air" since February. How did you become involved with the show?

I first starting talking with the folks over at The Advocate when I did a cover story with them on journalists who are openly gay or lesbian. This was in the summer of '08. They approached me at the end of '09 with the idea of The Advocate On-Air. I thought it sounded like a great project and I was glad to jump on board.

What do you hope the LGBT community gets from the show?

I hope the LGBT community gets informed, inspired and entertained from the stories featured. But more importantly - I hope ALL people get something from this show. These stories are for ALL people - our brothers, sisters, parents and friends. The more informed we ALL are the better. So my hope is that the link gets forwarded all the time to all people.

It's been almost four years since you publicly acknowledged that you were gay. Looking back, how do you think being an out newsman has affected your career since?

It has allowed me to have an honesty about my life and I find that invaluable. It wasn't easy...and sometimes being a pioneer means getting some arrows in the back. Great risk can come with great reward....and I am glad to have some of this hard work behind me.

If you had to do it all over again, would you change the time and/or place you publicly came out?

The funny thing is I never thought I was "in." Everyone at CNN knew my personal life as did other people in the broadcast industry. I attended an event for the National Lesbian and Gay Journalism Association. I was asked to be a panelist for a discussion and I agreed. It never dawned on me that bloggers there would cover it as "news" However, when it ended up on Perez Hilton I knew it was a big deal.

How do you feel about outing high profile gays and lesbians who are in the closet?

I am not a fan of outing people. But there are a few people I wish would "grow a pair" and come out already.

The rest of the interview with Roberts after the jump. Read what the sexual abuse survivor (in 2007, he revealed he was abused by his priest as a teen) has to say about the Catholic Church and his long-term partner.

You and your partner, Patrick, have been together since 1999 though I'm not sure how it all started. How did the two of you meet?

We actually met in 2000. Wikipedia has the year we met listed incorrectly. I was invited to a going away party for someone who was moving from North Carolina to Pennsylvania. I went and the party turned out to be for Patrick. We started dating shortly after that.

How does he feel about your highly visible television career?

Patrick is a very private person. But opposites attract and we do a good job of balancing each other out. He is always proud of my career and what I have accomplished.

You were recently included on a panel on the Larry King Show discussing the sex scandal in the Catholic Church. Bill Donohue, the president of the Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights, who was also present, said towards the end of the program that "The vast majority of the victims are post-pubescent. That’s not pedophilia...That’s homosexuality." What do you want to say to Donohue that you didn't have time to say on the show?

If you look back on the show Donohue prior to that said...

DONOHUE: "It's already gotten better. The time-line of the damage was the mid-'60s to the mid-'80s. But Ratzinger has taken a number of steps. It's harder for practicing homosexuals to get into the priesthood. That's a very good thing. Like father said before, we've only had six cases of allegations in the last year or so. "

And what he said wasn't originally challenged. I had to say that it is not a homosexual problem...

ROBERTS: "Bill is good. But you cannot link homosexuality to a pedophilia crisis in the Catholic church. "

I would like to ask Bill what he would say to all the little girls who have survived sexual abuse at the hands of priests. This is not a heterosexual problem or a homosexual problem...this is a criminal problem and a collar should protect no criminal.

How do you feel about, not just the Catholic Church, but religion in general?

I don't believe people should use religion to spew hate or intolerance.

You've been an east coaster for much of your life and moved to Los Angeles a couple of years ago. Your thoughts on the city?

LA takes some work...but the weather is always nice :)


Carl said...

Great to hear he's back.

budajsguy said...

Welcome back, Thomas. You've been missed.

Seth said...

I want to see Thomas and Anderson intertwined as one.

Anonymous said...

I couldn't help but wonder if Anderson was one he wished would grow a pair and come out.

Seth said...

I spotted handsome Thomas hosting a morning segment last Saturday on MSNBC!

Anonymous said...

This dude is awesome Patrick is a lucky guy