As a part of AfterElton.com's Gay Newsmen series, we will be providing daily interviews with gay newsmen here on the blog.
By phone from the ABC News Baghdad bureau, ABC News Correspondent Miguel Marquez spoke to AE this past February during one of his many trips to Iraq. Marquez said the surroundings are so intense that “you become very close” with the fellow reporters there, the security company, even the Iraqi staff. Marquez had just installed an iced cappuccino machine in his quarters, and said, “I’ve become sort of the Starbucks of the bureau.” He also said he’d become “a Lost junkie”, watching all the old episodes of the ABC drama on DVD in the down time.
And he needs the down time. The first two stories Marquez covered in Iraq after arriving in February were the abduction and execution style killings of American soldiers, and the bombing of a girls’ school – where many of the young female students died.
Marquez who began his national news career as an anchor at CNN Headline News, joined ABC in 2005, and was sent to Iraq for the first time just a few months later. . “There’s no question but you’ve got to just step up and do the job,” Marquez told AE, explaining that at ABC the expectations for correspondents are high.
Throughout his career Marquez has occasionally done interviews like this one that identify him as an openly gay reporter. And he said these interviews are important “because people need to know that you can have a quote, unquote ‘normal life’ and be gay,” explained Marquez. “That you can do anything, you can engage in any industry at any level and be gay.”
And Marquez said that on the few occasions he has done interviews that mention his sexuality, “I’ve always been surprised at the response. That people from different industries from all over the country will say, ‘Oh My God, I thought you were great, and I can’t believe you’re gay! And it’s so great that you can admit that and be such a role model.’”.
Asked what the most challenging story he’s ever covered is – and he said it’s clearly Iraq. “I have never been so consumed,” Marquez told AE explaining that he’s constantly trying to understand more. “I read so much about it. It’s a fascinating story that has no end.”
Marquez is asked if his experiences in Iraq has changed him, and he responded, “Have I grown up?” Then he spoke about “how much death and destruction there is” in that country, and “how hard, just hard life has become for many, many Iraqis.” He said, “It’s frustrating to see these young Americans dying. It’s frustrating to see the way it destroys families in the States.” And he said the distrust, the hatred, and even the economic conditions have become so complicated – that there seem to be very few answers.
So has he changed? Marquez said, “I feel maybe a little more world-weary because of it, a little more serious, a little more sober. It’s hard to see this stuff and not feel it.”