Everyone knows that Apple CEO Tim Cook is gay, but he hasn't come out... until now. Writing in a personal essay for Bloomberg Businessweek, he definitively said, "While I have never denied my sexuality, I haven’t publicly acknowledged it either, until now. So let me be clear: I’m proud to be gay, and I consider being gay among the greatest gifts God has given me."
He explained further that he's "I’ve tried to maintain a basic level of privacy" throughout his life but also "believe[s] deeply in the words of Dr. Martin Luther King, who said: “Life’s most persistent and urgent question is, ‘What are you doing for others?’ ” I often challenge myself with that question, and I’ve come to realize that my desire for personal privacy has been holding me back from doing something more important. That’s what has led me to today."
Being gay has given me a deeper understanding of what it means to be in the minority and provided a window into the challenges that people in other minority groups deal with every day. It’s made me more empathetic, which has led to a richer life. It’s been tough and uncomfortable at times, but it has given me the confidence to be myself, to follow my own path, and to rise above adversity and bigotry. It’s also given me the skin of a rhinoceros, which comes in handy when you’re the CEO of Apple.Bloomberg Businessweek editor Josh Tyrangiel was on Bloomberg TV (of course) to discuss the news, "There has never been in my searching a CEO who has voluntarily stepped out as a Fortune 500 CEO and said 'I'm gay.' And it's not just the CEO of any company; it's the CEO of the most closely watched company in the world... The fact that he is the CEO of Apple makes this both easier and harder. Easier in the sense that Apple is a company that has long valued creativity, innovation and equality. He told me that he spoke to the board and the board gave him complete and utter support. Full support. At the same time, Apple does business in a lot of places. It could be slightly complicated. I think that one thing about leading Apple is desire and desire for their products tends to trump prejudice."
The world has changed so much since I was a kid. America is moving toward marriage equality, and the public figures who have bravely come out have helped change perceptions and made our culture more tolerant. Still, there are laws on the books in a majority of states that allow employers to fire people based solely on their sexual orientation. There are many places where landlords can evict tenants for being gay, or where we can be barred from visiting sick partners and sharing in their legacies. Countless people, particularly kids, face fear and abuse every day because of their sexual orientation.
I don’t consider myself an activist, but I realize how much I’ve benefited from the sacrifice of others. So if hearing that the CEO of Apple is gay can help someone struggling to come to terms with who he or she is, or bring comfort to anyone who feels alone, or inspire people to insist on their equality, then it’s worth the trade-off with my own privacy.
It will also make things a little awkward for talking heads.