By Sunnivie Brydum
Originally published on Advocate.com August 24 2014 12:44 PM ET
In the two months since CNN anchor Richard Quest confirmed to viewers that he is gay, his work as a business reporter has improved, Quest told a group of LGBT media professionals Thursday at the annual National Gay and Lesbian Journalist's Association gathering in Chicago.
"I decided it was time to come out," Quest told the crowd of the moment in late June when he announced he is gay while reporting on a story about the impact of being out at work.
Quest said his worst fears — that he would lose credibility with viewers or the respect of his colleagues — "never materialized," according to Gay Star News. In fact, Quest said the quality of his work has improved since coming out because he's honest about who he is.
"I believe you leave opinions and views with your hat and coat at the door," Quest told the gathering on Thursday. "But I also know that in this new [media] environment, you can no longer say, 'That's private, that's not for discussion.'"
Quest became well-acquainted with private information becoming public when he was arrested in 2008 in New York City's Central Park after-hours, in possession of methamphetamine and reportedly with a rope around his neck tied to his genitals.
Quest told the NLGJA attendees that story had "absolutely no impact on [his] decision to come out," though he did address the incident on Thursday. According to Gay Star News, he admitted to having meth on his person, jokingly asking the audience how many people were waiting for such confirmation.
"It was a terrible incident in my life which required a total appraisal of my life and huge support from my family," Quest said. "If the ship is sinking, you need help getting off that ship."
The 52-year-old anchor says he is now quite confident as an openly gay newsman, but he acknowledged that wasn't always the case — especially when he began working for the BBC in his 20s.
"I was terrified about people knowing I was gay," he said, according to Gay Star News. He worried that producers and cameramen might refuse to share a hotel room with an openly gay colleague: "I'd cringe inside at the idea that they'd be talking behind my back," he said.
Now that he's out, however, Quest told his fellow reporters that his sexuality is a non-issue that won't stop him from covering stories in places with vicious antigay laws.
"If I have to go to Nigeria, if I have to go to Uganda, I've made clear that I will continue to go to those places," he said. "It's my job."
Watch a clip from an interview Quest did with fellow CNN anchor Erin Burnett just hours after coming out on air in June, where he discusses many of the same points he made at Thursday's NLGJA event in Chicago.