Tim Cook, the chief executive of electronics giant Apple, has declared he is “proud to be gay”.
Writing for Bloomsburg Businessweek, Cook opted to make a public announcement about his sexuality in which he states that “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.”
Cook stated that he has been open about his sexuality with many people, including colleagues at Apple, and that he is by nature a private man – but that he now felt the time is right to be public about his sexuality in order to help those struggling with their sexual identity. He explains: “I’ve had the good fortune to work at a company that loves creativity and knows it can only flourish when you embrace people’s differences. Not everyone is so lucky…there are laws in a majority of states that allow employers to fire people based solely on their sexual orientation…Countless people, particularly kids, face fear and abuse every day because of their sexual orientation… 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.”
Cook set out not only to announce his personal identity in his article, but also to strip away the stigma by explaining how his being gay has helped to make him a better and stronger person. “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.”
Cook, who joined Apple in 1998 and has served as its chief executive since 2011, admits to being inspired by Martin Luther King and has a picture of the civil rights leader on his wall. Cook explained that King’s observation that “life’s most persistent and urgent question is, ‘What are you doing for others?’” became something of a challenge to him, and that his announcement is partly a response to this. It is obvious that Cook’s article is with others in mind, rather than primarily being focused on himself. “I don’t pretend that writing this puts me in their league. All it does is allow me to look at those pictures and know that I’m doing my part, however small, to help others. We pave the sunlit path toward justice together, brick by brick. This is my brick.”